The Benefits of Meat: The Centre of Our Primal Diet
Primal diet fans and those who are interested in trying the carnivore diet, this article is for you. Get the braai/barbeque ready or book your table at a steakhouse, because today, we are celebrating the gift to mankind that is meat. In this article, we are talking about the benefits of eating meat regularly for your overall health.
A few years ago, when my husband and I first moved in together, I thought I was quite clever and decided that, in an attempt to save money (as Jonathan can eat quite a lot of food in a day), I would cut out meat and switch to a flexitarian diet. This basically meant that I would try to eat a plant-based diet 90% of the time, and only have meat once or twice a week when eating dinner with family or friends.
This did not go well. After just three days after not eating meat, I started to feel more anxious and even depressed, which I never really feel. I ignored it for a few more days, but could no longer take it after a week. I threw my plan of going mostly plant-based out the window and finally ate some meat. And that is how I decided that I would not try to part ways, even temporarily, with meat ever again.
For the sake of my mental health, I now try to eat meat at least once a day and I also consume eggs quite often. As an experiment and as an elimination diet, we did the carnivore diet for a month in September last year. We only ate meat, salt, and water for an entire month. It was a lot of fun to do actually.
In South Africa, we have really good meat available, and a lot of people eat a lot of meat in a meal, often eating around four or five portions of meat. And compared to some places in the world, it is not too expensive. To prep our meat, we did braai (barbeque) often, and could cook enough meat to last us for a few days at least.
The carnivore diet went much better than my attempt at a plant-based diet. We felt great and developed an even deeper appreciation of meat. We do not follow the carnivore diet currently, but we do prefer to follow a primal diet, and meat is still a big focus point in our house.
Primal eating is about eating the way our ancestors did. With a primal way of eating, you consume natural foods like meat, eggs, and vegetables, and eliminate others like processed foods and grains.
The Benefits of Eating Meat Regularly as Part of a Primal Diet
For years, people have been encouraged to eat less meat, especially red meat, because of the saturated fat content, but research has shown that saturated fat is not as evil as once thought, and actually helps with various processes in the body, such as hormone production.
Meat is very satiating, and it is also the most nutrient-dense type of food you can add to your primal eating plan. In fact, eating organ meats, such as liver, is similar to taking a vitamin and mineral supplement. Beef liver contains high levels of:
Meat has quite a few other benefits for your health, especially as part of a natural, primal diet:
Meat is generally high in minerals, such as zinc, iron, selenium, and magnesium.
It is high in protein, which builds muscle and helps repair tissue.
Beef is high in L-Carnitine, which aids fat metabolism, and helps transport fat to your mitochondria to be burned for energy. Fish, chicken, and pork are also great primal sources.
It contains glutathione, which is the most powerful antioxidant. It also helps lower inflammation and oxidative stress.
Red meat consumption can help relieve anxiety and depression, partly due to the vitamin B12 content. A deficiency in this vitamin can lower mood significantly. I believe that this was the reason why I started feeling depressed within a week of trying to mostly give up meat to save money.
Meat contains essential B vitamins, which are essential for energy, hormone balancing, and mood regulation.
If you eat the correct portions, very little residue gets to the colon, and it, therefore, gives your large intestine a break if you only eat meat during a meal like on the carnivore diet.
Meat, unlike some other foods like lentils, beans, and those containing gluten does not contain anti-nutrients that interfere with the absorption of other nutrients.
We recommend that you consider going primal, and if you do not eat enough meat on a daily basis, perhaps consider adding more meat or even eggs to your diet. Cheese is a good option if you can digest some dairy, but the more mature the cheese is, the better, because the bacteria pre-digest a lot of the lactose in dairy.
I do not recommend that people go on a plant-based diet. Although, I suppose if your ancestors did follow a mostly plant-based diet, it might not be such a bad thing, but I believe that humans should eat meat if they want to be as healthy as possible. I am not talking about processed meat, but high-quality meat that is hopefully not grain-fed.
You may disagree, and that is perfectly okay, but based on my own experience with trying a plant-based diet and doing research, I say: steak is medicine.