Red meat is one of the most popular protein sources for bodybuilders and other lifters, and many eat it regularly. But is it possible that red meat could make you sick by promoting inflammation in your body?
One of the “breakthroughs” in medicine over the last couple of decades is bringing the idea of inflammation as a cause of all sorts of disease to the mainstream. It’s now generally accepted that we should strive to avoid inflammation as much as possible.
So does Meat Cause Inflammation and Disease?
What Science Says
Scientists have been studying the link between red meat and disease for many years, and much of that focus has turned toward inflammation in the last decade or so.
In 2007, researchers from Australia supervised 60 subjects during an eight-week study involving increased red meat intake. The scientists noted no increase in the markers of inflammation during that time and concluded that lean, unprocessed red meat poses no special inflammation threat for most people.
But in 2014, scientists from Harvard studied the results of a much larger earlier experiment involving more than 3600 women. In this case, the scientists did find an initial link between red meat consumption, but they attributed much of that to body-mass considerations. In particular, subjects with higher body-mass indexes may have also been the ones eating more red meat, and carrying more fat, in itself, is a potential source of inflammation.
Finally, a 2015 study from the University of California at San Diego found that N-glycolylneuraminic acid, a glycan derived from red meat, can indeed cause inflammation in the human body.
What It Means to You
So, there is some evidence that red meat can cause inflammation, and maybe even disease. Does that mean you should avoid it completely?
While you may not want to eat it at every meal, red meat is a good source of complete protein AND it also contains creatine, as well as iron.
For most people, eating red meat on occasion is probably fine, but you should always take caution, and keep your eyes open for new research.
Talk to your doctor about whether red meat is OK for you, and get a complete physical. Some people will need to avoid it due to specific health conditions, and your doctor can help you decide if it’s right for you.