Should I eat meat? 1/2 The big health dilemma.
- Mosley, Michael.
About this work
Michael Mosley presents one of two programmes about the health issues around eating meat. Mosley is an enthusiastic meat eater; but is meat good for us? Mosley puts himself on a high meat diet. He visits a meat wholesaler. Marie Murphy, a nutrition scientist from the British Nutrition Foundation, explains the benefits of eating meat - for example as a source of protein. Dr Ali Khavandi, an Interventional Cardiologist, Royal United Hospital Bath, concurs as does Victoria Taylor from the British Heart Foundation. A million people have been studied to get a sense of the health issues. Chicken is not included as there is no evidence that this is bad for you. Mosley embarks on a diet of twice what is recommended - 130 grams of meat. Mosley goes to the Food and Nutritional Science Department at Reading University for an initial health check to get a base-line figure for his current state of health. In South California, Mosley visits an unusual family; the Huxleys who are Seventh Day Adventists who follow a specific dietary regime. They experience significant longevity and they are vegetarian. Dr Gary Fraser from Loma Lima University is carrying out a study compared vegetarians to meat eaters in this cohort. Meat eating could mean a loss of 5 years to longevity. What is in meat that could be causing harm? Mosley looks at five different meats then focuses on bacon, pork sausages and beef mince. Orla Kennedy from Reading University compares the nutritional benefits. Meat provides a complete set of proteins, especially micronutrients such as B12. In a comparison cheese has more saturated fat than the meat; the vegetarian equivalents have none. Saturated fat seemed to be the culprit and has been the received view for decades. In the US, Dr Ronald Krauss has been researching saturated fat. He found that low fat diets were not successful and in fact worse. He revisited 22 studies and found the link inconclusive. It is suggested that another micronutrient, L-Carnitine, reacts to a substance in our gut to produce TMAO which reduces cholesterol. Mosley goes to Harvard, School of Public Health, to find out about another study ran by Walter C. Willett, the 'godfather' of nutritional epidemiology who studied 120,000 people. He discovered processed meat was the worst for mortality from cancer or heart attack. However the headline conclusion that red meat is bad for you disagreed with a similar longitudinal study carried out in Europe. St Thomas' Hospital treats patients with colon cancer which is linked with meat consumption. Jeremy performs colonoscopies and he shows a video of a healthy and an unhealthy bowel. Mosley then learns how meat is processed. A significant amount of salt has to be added. Sodium nitrate is added too as a preservative agent. They are suspected to be associated with cancers as is the gases used in the smoking process. A statistician from Cambridge University demystifies the risks. Being male and smoking adds considerably to your mortality. A bacon sandwich every day would mean a loss of 1 hour per day lost from life. Returning to Reading University, Mosley looks at the impact of his meat eating on his health. The news isn't good - 3 kilograms of visceral fat, higher cholesterol and higher blood pressure.