Red Meat for Mental Health?

A just-published study from Australia found that women consuming less than the “recommended” amount of red meat were twice as likely to have a diagnosed depressive or anxiety disorder.

How is this possible? Read on.

A couple of weeks ago I reported on the now-famous (or infamous) study out of Harvard which was widely reported in the media as “proving” that red meat causes early death.

The executive summary of that article was this:

  • It was an observational study, not a clinical one.
  • It showed an association, not a causal relationship.
  • The data was based on notoriously unreliable food questionnaires.
  • And the association- which was kind of weak to begin with—could have been due to countless factors– for example, sodium/nitrates in processed meat, high heat cooking (known to create carcinogenic toxins), or extraneous variables (those in the study who reported eating the most meat also smoked more, weighed more and exercised less).

I also pointed out that there has never been a study- ever– that compared health outcomes of those eating grass-fed meat (a whole different animal, if you’ll pardon the pun) with those eating pink-slime-filled meat of the kind you get at fast food restaurants, or sodium and nitrate-drenched processed meat like you get at deli counters.

And I maintained that if such a study were ever to be done, it would probably show health benefits for meat eating as opposed to health risks. (Those benefits would probably be even more dramatic for those who make grass-fed meat a part of a wholesome diet that includes plenty of vegetables and fruits, and excluded  sugar, grains, trans fats and processed foods.)

The new study seems to back up my hypothesis.

Not surprisingly, you haven’t heard a thing about it in the mainstream media.

Researchers from Deakin University in Australia studied 1000 Australian women and uncovered the statistically significant link between low consumption of red meat and lamb and higher levels of depression and anxiety.

“Even when we took into account the overall healthiness of the women’s diets, as well as other factors such as their socioeconomic status, physical activity levels, smoking, weight and age, the relationship between low red meat intake and mental health remained”, said lead researcher Professor Felice Jacka in an interview with England’s The Telegraph.

Wait—did Dr. Jonny just say “recommended amount of meat”?

Yes. He did. The Australian government recommends eating 65-100 grams (roughly 2 ½ to 4 ounces) three to four times a week.

Surprised by the results? Don’t be. In Australia, nearly all beef and lamb is pasture raised (grass-fed). That means the meat is high in omega-3’s, relatively low in inflammatory omega-6’s, and virtually absent of the hormones, antibiotics and steroids routinely given to factory farmed meat in America.

Meat in Australia is a health food. Meat in America? Not so much.

“We had originally thought that red meat might not be good for mental health but it turns out that it actually may be quite important”, said Professor Jacka.

Interestingly, the benefit wasn’t just from eating protein, since there was exactly zero relationship between mental health benefits and chicken, pork, plant-based proteins or even, surprisingly, fish.

“We know that red meat in Australia is a healthy product as it contains high levels of nutrients, including the Omega-3 fatty acids that are important to mental and physical health”, commented Jacka.

The “meat-scare” article I wrote about a couple of issues ago is a perfect example of “confirmation bias”—that is, seeing what you expect to see. The general belief in this country- even among researchers—is that meat is “bad”. So when an association like the one found in the Harvard study shows up, no one questions it too closely.

But that’s exactly what we should be doing.

In my article on “The Red Meat Scare”, I wrote that until someone shows me a causal relationship between grass-fed meat and any negative health outcome, I’m going to continue the diet that’s kept me strong, healthy and prescription-medicine free for sixty-some years: Wild salmon, grass-fed meat, tons of berries, nuts, coconut, vegetables, fruits and omega-3’s.

The Australian study confirms my own belief that a diet rich in grass-fed meat is anything but a health risk. And such a diet may well turn out to have substantial health benefits beyond even those unearthed by the Australian study.

I’m betting my health on it.

And it’s a bet I plan to win.



1 Comment

  1. Carole

    Its so discouraging that the media bastardizes a healthy diet to protect the fake food industries. They have brainwashed people into believing that an old fashioned balanced diet of fresh real foods tastes bad, is too hard, and is actually bad for you. Amazing.

    When I go into the office and talk about what we had for dinner, everyone drools. When I tell them that it only takes 10-15 minutes, they can’t believe it.

    We need more people who are willing to step up and show how to do it. Cooking is a lost art – and its really sad. There are so many good foods that people are missing out on because they rely on boxes. Lets bring back good food!