That my personal favorite protein choice is cold water fish-especially salmon-is no surprise. However, many of my patients and readers ask me about eating meat. Beef, pork, lamb and veal are all excellent protein sources. As we know, protein is essential to life itself; if we do not eat adequate protein our bodies enter into an accelerated aging mode. This is because our muscles, organs, bones, cartilage, skin and the antibodies that guard us from disease are made of protein. In fact, the very enzymes that facilitate critical chemical reactions in our body (from digestion to the building and re-building of cells) are made up of protein. As protein is digested, it is broken down into building blocks of amino acids, which are then utilized by the cells to repair themselves. Like fish and poultry, meat contains all the amino acids necessary for cellular repair.
There is a negative aspect to the consumption of red meats, and that is that they can be high in saturated fats (so can poultry-that’s why we recommend that it be lean and skinless). As we have learned, too much saturated fat is inflammatory. Another negative aspect (and this includes poultry as well) is that they may also be given antibiotics, hormones and other substances potentially harmful to humans. A European Union scientific panel has confirmed that eating beef from cattle raised on growth hormones is a potential health risk. Since 1988 the EU has had a ban on the use of such hormones and a prohibition of imported beef treated with hormones, which has led to a long running trade disagreement with the United States and Canada. The North Americans dispute Europe’s scientific evidence and allow widespread fattening of cattle with growth hormones.
If you want to eat meat, follow these safety guidelines. First, try to buy only organic meat, raised from animals that are free of antibiotics and hormones, whose feed is free of potentially dangerous chemicals-ideally the animals (including poultry) will be free-range-that is, not raised in feed lots but out in a pasture.
Another option is to consider some of the “new” types of meat being offered in the marketplace, such as bison (buffalo) and ostrich. Both have all the flavor and versatility of the red meats but present a much healthier profile.