A few weeks ago (March 30) the New York Times Had an Op-Ed entitled "Red Meat Is Not the Enemy." I discussed the problem with red meat on YOU: The Owner's Manual Radio Show the following weekend.
Show me red meat that has no carnitine, lecithin, or choline -- the inflammation-causing proteins that constitute it -- and I will agree with you.
The bacteria of your intestinal microbiome metabolize these proteins to trimethylamine (TMA) or butyl betaine. These compounds are processed by you and your liver such that they elevate levels of trimethylamine oxide (TMAO) in your blood, a compound that has unambiguously been shown to portend increased kidney dysfunction, increased inflammation, and increased cardiovascular events like strokes, heart attacks, episodes of impotence and memory dysfunction.
And, if those events are ones you laugh at while eating your burger, it also is associated with higher all-cause death rates, independent of traditional risk factors.
While Americans may be eating less meat as the NY Times Op-Ed said, it is not sufficiently less to cause the "huge decrease in obesity rates or deaths from cardiovascular disease" that op-ed author, Aaron E. Carroll, expects. More than four (4) ounces of red meat in a week causes the accumulation of TMAO levels into the danger zone, so it should come as no surprise that the average American consuming 3.5 ounces of red meat per day is not seeing improvements in health.
Data from the Nurses' Health Study and several large-scale prospective studies in the last five years share a common motif: red meat is associated with increased incidence of type-2 diabetes, prostate cancer, colon cancer, and all-cause mortality.
Thanks for reading,
Mike Roizen MD, FACP (AKA The Enforcer)