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Total Body Wellness: The Meat You Eat

Total Body Wellness: The Meat You Eat
Everyone’s talking about free-range this and grass-fed that. Read on to find out if it’s worth the purchase and how it will affect your health.


If you picked up this month’s Cincinnati Magazine, you saw a delicious burger on the front cover. I love that this burger from Wildflower Café is the No. 1 burger in Cincinnati for a number of reasons, including the fact that I love the concept behind Wildflower, a mostly locally sourced, organic place to eat that helps our local food economy and provides a wonderful place for people in the community to eat. But I also love it because of the good-for-you, grass-fed meat they use. 061410VALLEYVIEW.GIF

 

It’s really important for all of us to think about what the food that we’re eating, eats. You can apply it to plants and animals, but today we’re going to focus on animals. In the same way that food you eat affects your body chemistry. Cows, chickens, pigs, fish and whatever else you’re eating follows the same principle.

 

Over the last 30 years the landscape of commercial meat production has changed dramatically. In order to have genuinely sustainable livestock farming, animals must be raised on a pasture-based system. That means that they are out in the fields roaming around with plenty of room. Cows are made to eat grass. Pigs can digest grass, corn, grains, soy and other plants and chickens and turkeys can eat plants as well as bugs and worms found on the pasture.

 

They eat what they’ve been designed to eat, grass and other plants. Animals raised on this healthy, natural diet have a highly functioning pH of approximately seven, which allows for the essential fermentation bacteria in their stomachs that in turn creates high levels of nutrients like: Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA-a fat burning type of fatty acid), omega 3 fats, branch-chain amino acids, vitamins, minerals and digestive enzymes. 

 

Grass fed beef or bison typically contains an extremely healthy omega 6 to omega 3 ratio, between 2:1 to 4:1. If that ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 gets out of whack, it causes big issues, like inflammation in the body.

 

The issues with grain fed animals are lengthy. According to the Journal of Animal Science, grain fed beef has an omega 6 to omega 3 ratio higher than 20:1. That means there is a huge chemical difference inside the body of a grass fed cow and a grain fed one.

 

In the cattle on a grain diet, a healthy pH of seven suddenly drops to a highly acidic pH of four. Increases in acidity are always bad, and this acidity even goes so far as to stop the production of healthy fats like omega 3’s and CLA, and increases the level of the omega 6’s.


The main ingredients in a grain diet are genetically modified grain and soy. And if the meat corporation wants to cut some costs, the feed may also contain “by-product feedstuff.” That’s a pretty fancy term for municipal garbage, stale pastry, chicken feathers, gum and candy. 0110Fence_INSTORY.gif

 

Milk from pasture-fed cows has as much as five times the CLA as milk from grain-fed cows according to SustainableTable.org. Meat from pasture-fed cows has from 200 to 500 percent more CLA as a proportion of total fatty acids than meat from cows that eat a primarily grain-based diet.

 

Free-range chickens have 21 percent less total fat, 30 percent less saturated fat and 28 percent fewer calories than their factory-farmed counterparts. Eggs from poultry raised on pasture have 10 percent less fat, 40 percent more vitamin A and 400 percent more omega 3's.

 

Conventionally raised animals are given antibiotics regularly to compensate for unhealthy conditions. Their poor diets cause them to be sicker and unhealthier in general and they literally must have antibiotics to survive in their cramped, unsanitary living conditions. Often times these antibiotics are also used to fatten up the livestock, one of their side effects. These huge livestock operations produce over one billion tons of concentrated animal waste annually that is full of antibiotics and antibiotic resistant bacteria.

 

Does it even matter if there are antibiotics in our water? The National Academy of Sciences determined that increased health care costs associated with antibiotic-resistant bacteria exceed $4 billion each year in the United States. That’s billion with a capital B.

 

We’ve talked quite a bit this week about the good and bad of different types of livestock farming. Check back next week when we’ll go over a plan of action that we can take to change ourselves and better our community.

 

 

Ashley Berlin -

Ashley Berlin is the health and fitness columnist for Cincy Chic and the owner of BEAT Personal Training in West Chester. Want more information about something you read here? Send her an e-mail at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .Read More >>


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