NEWS:

By Clive Lindley-Jones | April 4, 2012 11:25 am

Meat: To Eat or Not?
What is a person to do, if unlike me, you like meat, eat it fairly regularly and have always believed what your mummy told you, that meat was central to a healthy diet?
Then every now and again some fancy body, this time, The Harvard School of Public Health, in the USA, of all places, comes out last month with another report on two enormous studies which gets reported like this;
 "Long-term data from two large studies might have more people considering a switch to vegetarianism, with investigators reporting results showing that processed and unprocessed meat consumption is associated with a significantly increased risk of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality, as well as increased risk of death from cancer. After adjustment for multiple risk factors, eating one additional serving of meat daily was associated with a 16% increase in the risk of cardiovascular mortality and a 10% increased risk of death from cancer."
Dr. An Pan and noted plant-based diet advocate, cardiologist  Dr Dean Ornish, (Preventive Medicine Research Institute, Sausalito, CA), encourage the overall message:
that the veggie guys have it, after all!
How do you make sense of it all?  I should, from the start, come clean and say I never eat meat, for the simple reason that I hate it. The only time in my life I have eaten it was when forced to at school, back in the dark ages. However I am not an evangelical vegetarian, and do understand I am unusual/weird. I think eating meat in moderation is normal and fine.  It is perfectly obvious that humans have adapted well to eating a very wide range of foods, including meat and all sorts of things you may think are delicious, nutritious or down right disgusting.
What we may be less well adapted to is eating a brand new diet, never before seen by anthropologists. It constitutes large amounts of selected parts of animals fed in feed lots on antibiotics, hormones and sometimes ground up other animals, plus soy cake rather than their traditional ruminant diet of fresh clover rich, grasses. These meats, often without their organ meats, are consumed whole or ground up and reconstituted in clever ways. Wrapped up in the overall diet in large amounts of sugar, refined carbohydrates, dangerous hydrogenated  fats, soaked  with strange chemicals and all consumed in vast quantities.This kind of meat eating leaves little room for the levels of plants that we know we need.
This new diet, the SAD or SUK diet ( standard American Diet, or Standard UK diet)  fills you up, messes with your insulin and makes enormous amounts of money for someone. It leaves little room for many plants, of any kind and does seem to play its roll in killing us very effectively.
These longitudinal studies, while they are not perfect and are inevitably open to some criticism, are at the present time the best evidence we can get and they suggest that we should reduce our meat consumption and for processed meats we should definitely try to avoid or eliminate these from the diet, says  lead investigator Dr An Pan (Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA). Dr Pan goes on to say;
"For unprocessed red meat, most people should reduce the amount consumed to less than three servings per week and to replace these servings with fish, poultry, and healthy whole grains. The problem with the US diet is that a lot of people eat more than one and sometimes more than two servings of red meat per day. That's a lot."
Perhaps what has gone wrong with our western diet is both the method of producing these red meats as well as the quantities. The rise of demand for meat world-wide is linked to a growing affluence. When people get richer, unlike me, they seem to want to eat more meat.  Perhaps the best way to see meat is less as the central part of most meals, but rather as an addition to some meals which gives protein, iron and flavour but does not crowd out the space for all those other essential parts that the emerging consensus suggests, constitutes a healthy diet.
Little to no red meat, more good carbohydrates such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, and soy and fewer simple and refined carbohydrates, and more healthy fatty acids. In other words, "more quality, less quantity,” as Dr. Dean Ornish puts it. This comes close to the famous 'Mediterranean Diet' that has long been seen as the kind of balance to aim for, if we want better health. As commentators said last month such a diet would go a long way toward treating the health crisis in the west, as well as reducing global warming and energy consumption.

"At a time when 20% of people in the US go to bed hungry each night and almost 50% of the world’s population is malnourished, choosing to eat more plant-based foods and less red meat is better for all of us — ourselves, our loved ones, and our planet," writes Dr. Ornish. (Click here for a link to my October 2011 Health and Wellness Blog to read more about Dr. Ornish's plant- based diet )

So for those who love their meat, this is not the end of the line, but rather a warning to mix their meat with more plants. For some with problems with grains we may see a pulling back from such consistent advocacy of whole grains in the future, and a shift to favour meat as part of a more Palaeolithic diet. In other words, the more we eat what humans have eaten for the great majority of our time on earth before agriculture let alone agribusiness, the closer we will be getting to a diet that keeps us alive and healthy for longer. For those who like it, meat will always have a place in this.

Perhaps where the difficulty arises is in the great change that comes from eating a wild animal, whose flesh is nutritious and full of the right kind of essential fatty acids and other nutrients to keep us healthy. Going from this to eating an animal who’s life has been short and controlled; whose food supply has been manipulated. These battery fed creatures of today  will undoubtedly be different to the venison, buffalo, or seals of old. Whether you choose to eat some red meat or not, the evidence seems to be to try and keep it as part of a more mixed diet avoiding the cancerous risks from lots of processed and grilled meats where changes in the meat can result in damaging carcinogenic outcomes. Mix this in with plenty of plant-based foods high in phytochemicals, bioflavonoids, and other protective substances, and you should end up living longer.

Boy are they going to love this science down on the ranch in Texas!

The Big Smoke
What do 1  billion do that will lead to 1 billion deaths this century?

According to a recent article in the Economist read the article here.:“Thanks to taxes, education and smoke-free policies, consumption in Western Europe dropped by 26% between 1990 and 2009. But this decline has been more than offset by a jump elsewhere, according to the newest Tobacco Atlas  from the American Cancer Society and the World Lung Foundation. From 1990 to 2009, for example, consumption jumped by 57% in the Middle East and Africa. In emerging markets, men are leading the trend. About 800m men smoke cigarettes, compared with fewer than 200m women."

This led me to have a brief look at the Tobacco Atlas on line. What a fascinating and depressing account of how so many of us are still in thrall to the weed, particularly men in the giant communist and post communist countries of China and Russia.

We, or at least the non-smokers amongst us, look benignly, and even enthusiastically  on, as the government increases the tax on tobacco and slowly the ratchet is tightened on the use and sale of tobacco in the UK,  where deaths from tobacco  account for 22.2% for men and 20.3% for women. But in the wider world over the last decade world tobacco production has increased by 16.5%. that is over a billion more cigarettes produced each year. Over the last decade, according to the Atlas, 50 million additional people have been killed as a result of using tobacco. However that number is dwarfed by the fore-casted one billion deaths from tobacco for the twenty first century.

Tobacco is the only risk factor that is shared by all four of the leading non-communicable diseases of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and chronic respiratory disease. Interesting but, somehow, not enough to make most people stop the habit.

Film of the Month

A Dangerous Method

For those social science nerds like me who spent part of their youth enthusiastically reading about Freud and Jung and the start of modern psychology and psychotherapy this is a rewarding film.

AS Philip French says in his review in the Observer. Cronenberg has produced an;“..engrossing, admirably acted new film, A Dangerous Method, takes an objective, historical look at the early days of psychoanalysis and the people, notably Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung involved". 

The dense and satisfying screenplay adapted by  Christopher Hampton from his own play still has the discursive quality of a good play. So, no car chases here. The most exciting it gets, beyond some rather doubtful spanking sex scenes,  is a sedate boat trip on the lake near Jung’s home in Zurich. What it does have is the power to recreate some of those famous scenes when these two titans meet and talk and visit each others homes and later travel to America together to a conference, Freud analysing Jung’s dreams but reluctant to allow his brilliant and ambitious younger colleague to do the same for him.

If you have an interest in these people and their ideas and the way these ideas changed the current of twentieth century thought and our understanding of ourselves, it is engrossing to see the film-makers art recreate some of the famous encounters, even down to a subtle enactment of a notable and well known photo of Freud hand on hip in his study, that is recreated within the film; blink and you will miss it.

Set between 1905-15 the film spans the mid life Freud and the younger man Jung’s friendship and intellectual professional encounter and falling out. Jung’s early efforts in using the new talking cure and his, in today’s terms, un-forgiveable breach of professional ethics, in having an affair with a former patient and junior colleague.

Even if you don’t know these stories and have only a passing interest in this stuff, the film can still engage and inform, although some felt it finished too abruptly with Jung’s for- boding of the coming first world war. His breakdown that became a breakthrough and lead to most of his life’s enormous body of work, is only really hinted at towards the end of the film. Focused as it is, on the encounters between Freud and his heir apparent Jung and their eventual falling out, inevitably the ending of the film leaves much unanswered. It is easier if you know something of the outcome of these turbulent early years of psychological, and particularly Jungian thought, but this flawed film still satisfies and rewards attention.

Not a perfect film, but a well put together one, of interest to those fascinated by ideas and the birth of these men’s profound, caring and culturally revolutionary  insights.

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