Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Red meat can tell great health story

Red meat has a great story to tell the aging population about combating muscle loss with protein intake and regular exercise, according to Professor David Cameron-Smith.

The deputy director of the Liggins Institute and the chairman of nutrition at Auckland University, Cameron-Smith strongly endorsed red meat consumption for a number of positive health benefits while disputing any links to increased risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease.

The aging population tends to eat less meat at a time of their lives when protein is important for a number of attributes like muscular strength, cognition, weight control and satiety.

Older people tend to give up meat-eating because of perceived health risks but wouldn’t do the same with wine, he said.

“The red-meat industry seems to be in a position where it has to mitigate some of the myths.” 

Recommended daily intakes of protein are adequate for the body’s needs but do not address the benefits for aging physiology.

“We also lose muscle mass and function as we age, to the point of frailty in the elderly.

“Protein intake will maintain muscle mass but it must be combined with exercise for an additive response.”

Cameron-Smith said the timely ingestion of protein around the time of exercise is also beneficial.

“The red-meat industry seems to be in a position where it has to mitigate some of the myths.” 

Professor David Cameron-Smith

Body builders have used whey protein isolate from the dairy industry but that is an expensive source.

Leucine amino acid is essential and cannot be synthesised by animals as well as being the only dietary amino acid (from soy, dairy and meat) which stimulates muscle protein synthesis.

“When you exercise you should also have a fast-acting protein rich in leucine which helps your muscles in anabolic rebuilding,” he said.

Although red meat has always been characterised as slow in digestion, Auckland research has shown amino acids rise quickly in the bloodstream after a meal of steak.

“In red meat you have the highest source of protein but it is not being sold on the basis of the benefits of that protein to the consumer.

“Vegetable proteins have the high moral ground simply because the research has not been done.”

Cameron-Smith suggested the red meat storyline and marketing opportunity could be related to the aging experiences of aches and pains, losing muscle mass and gaining weight.

Those messages could also be linked to the greater concentrations of beneficial fatty acids in beef from grass-fed cattle compared with grain-fed, especially in Asian export markets.

In 2030 the median age of the Chinese population will be 40 and it will be higher than the median age in the United States.

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