When making the transition into the Primal way of life, a lot of people get tripped up on the question of grass-fed beef. Is it necessary? (No.) Is there really that big a difference between conventional beef and grass-fed beef? (Kinda.) What does grass-fed actually mean? How do conventional cows live and what do they eat – and does that matter enough to me to make the effort to incorporate true grass-fed beef into my diet?
Hopefully, the following article will shed a bit of light on the subject, making it easier for you to make an informed decision based on your preferences, your needs, your budget, your personal ethics, and the objective information provided.
Diabetes is that rare brand of nasty disease that fails to strike real, visceral fear. It doesn’t carry the weight of a cancer or an AIDS or a heart disease. It’s something you get, like a gut, a long list of prescriptions, and a walker, as you grow older. People just live with it – millions upon millions across the world – and are rarely shocked or surprised to hear that others have it. Their ranks are ever growing, with, if a recent study on the effects of gestational diabetes on the fetus has anything to say about it, much of the conscription taking place in the womb. It’s called intergenerational diabetes, and it means that pregnant women with diabetes or even just poor maternal glucose tolerance could be turning their little ones into future type 2 diabetics. This is fetal diabetes without a genetic component; this is epigenetic owing to environmental (womb) input. The authors speculate that pregnant mothers with type 2 diabetes (diet and lifestyle induced, remember) could engender irreversible alterations to both the unborn kid’s hypothalamic neural network (where leptin, the satiety hormone, does its thing), pancreatic function, and muscle and liver insulin signaling. The idea is that they pop out with type 2 diabetes right off the bat. It’s diet-induced, sure, but not how we normally think of it. No baby bottle full of Coke required here. Of course, I still see this sort of condition as being reversible with diet and exercise…it’s just that it will require a LOT more adherence and starting at an earlier age. Moving on…
A new grass-fed meat study (PDF) has just been brought to my attention, thanks to Aaron Blaisdell. It’s pretty fascinating. Researchers wanted to see two things: whether eating grass-finished animals instead of grain-finished animals would provide a significant influx of dietary omega-3s and whether the potential influx would actually make a difference in lab numbers. They took two groups of people, regular Irish folks, and provided weekly portions of beef and lamb, either grass-finished or grain-finished. The animals were “finished” for a minimum of six weeks. Both groups were told to avoid fatty fish and omega-3-rich oils for the duration of the study. All told, both groups ate roughly 469 grams of red meat a week for four weeks. Oh, and these were all healthy subjects with good cholesterol and blood pressure numbers and without prescriptions to any medications.
We’re long overdue for a good, solid post on whey protein. I include it in my Primal Fuel shake mix, a number of readers asked about it after last week’s dairy post, and it’s one of the more commonly used nutritional supplements around, so it’s a no-brainer of a post.
Whey is a byproduct of cheese production. It’s that pseudo-clear liquid remaining after milk has been curdled and strained that used to be tossed aside as waste material. Today, we know that it houses an impressive array of proteins: beta-lactoglobulin, alpha-lactalbumin, and serum albumin. These are complete proteins, comprised of the essential amino acids central to protein synthesis and increased muscular hypertrophy. Our bodies can produce non-essential amino acids from lesser amino acids, but we cannot produce the essentials ourselves; we must eat quality protein sources. Whey is a naturally occurring, essential protein that satisfies the body’s protein requirements – hence its popularity.
I knew going in this was going to be a tricky one, because dairy, especially raw and/or fermented full-fat dairy, resides in a Primal gray area. The literature, the evolutionary reasoning, and the anecdotal reports all unanimously point to sugar, cereal grains and legumes, processed foods, and industrial vegetable oils as being net negatives on the human metabolic spectrum, but dairy is somewhat different. The other Neolithic foodstuffs we can rule out because the science condemning them is fairly concrete and they weren’t on the menu 20,000 years ago. Heck, they weren’t just off the menu; they were basically unrecognizable as food in the raw state. Dairy, on the other hand, is a relatively recent food chronologically, but it is most assuredly and obviously a viable nutritive source in its raw form. It’s full of highly bioavailable saturated fat, protein, and carbs – in equal portions. You could conceivably survive on milk alone (I wouldn’t recommend it, but you could technically do it; try doing the same with honey or raw millet). Milk is baby fuel. It’s literally meant to spur growth and enable a growing body. Our bodies definitely recognize dairy as food, even foreign bovine dairy. But is it good nutrition?
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