New "Meat Guidelines" are All-Sizzle-And-No-Steak
Every once and a while a study comes out that is so exciting it seems to good to be true. Well, this is one of those times… and as it turns out it is. It’s a great example of why it’s important to read past the headlines and not get swept away in the hype of ‘the latest study’.
Recently a self-appointed group of scientist decided to make their own red and processed meat “guidelines”, and this was a big problem for several reasons.
Jumped the Gun
The panel of scientist in this review went a bit too far. Normally when a scientist finds weak evidence from something they call for more research on the topic, they don’t set guidelines. In this case they have gone too far and actually suggested that we keep on eating high amounts of red and processed meats even though they feel the science isn’t there yet to understand what is happening. This is definitely putting the cart before the horse in a dangerous way.
History of trouble
The lead scientist on this panel came under fire in 2016 when he published a paper recommending that people don’t worry about how much sugar they eat. This study was funded by the food industry, specifically companies that sell high sugar foods.
Low quality science
These scientist (of which only 2 of the 14 panelist were in the field of nutrition) completed 5 reviews of the scientific literature around red and processed meats. Unfortunately, they actually excluded some high quality research, like the Lyon Diet study, because they felt the results were too positive. They also used the wrong type of evaluation tool, choosing one that is normally used for drug trials, to decided on how strong the research studies were. Food is not the same as drugs, and the way we study food is not the same as the way we study drugs. With that in mind you can’t use the same tool to evaluate them both.
The Reality is
We don’t have to look far for high quality research on this topic that guides us in the right direction. For example, look at the Portfolio Diet and all of its proven benefits on heart health and cholesterol. Check out Dr. David Jenkins work here! (click here to read more about the Portfolio Diet)
In a nutshell (yes pun intended there!) the Portfolio Diet recommends daily intake of nuts (45 grams daily from things like almonds, walnuts, or if you are allergic seeds), plant proteins (50 grams daily from things like chickpeas, beans, lentils), soluble fibre (20 grams daily from things like oats, apples, beans, peas) , and plant sterols (2 gram daily from things like supplements, soy proteins, chickpeas)