Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Tuesday 23 January 2018

Meat sensationalism is bad for our health

A sign at the roadside on the way in to Clifden promoting cycling for health.
A sign at the roadside on the way in to Clifden promoting cycling for health.
Joe Barry

Joe Barry

If we are to believe what we are told through the media, eating meat has the potential to kill us. Funny one that. I seem to recall also being told some time back how dairy products were lethal.

Then at some point, I heard that we were risking our lives if we ate eggs. Breakfast cereals were also named as deadly assassins because of the amounts of sugar and salt they contained.

So let's just eat porridge which is acknowledged as one of the healthiest meals available to start the day.

Shock headlines are the lifeblood of newspapers and some clever people have made fortunes writing books on how avoiding some food or other can prolong our lives.

They also love telling us about what they call 'superfoods' such as lettuce and carrots.

Carrots are said to be great for our eyesight and yes, OK, I have never seen a rabbit wearing glasses but is that going to make me throw away the specs and munch carrots daily? Somehow I think not.

How Carrots Helped Win World War II is the title of a book about the way propaganda was used to confuse the enemy and how the British, having discovered radar that could allow their gunners and pilots to operate in the dark, put out the myth that it was due to their eating lots of carrots.

They didn't want the Germans to learn it was in fact due to their new invention and there are apocryphal tales that the Luftwaffe started feeding their own pilots carrots, as they thought there was some truth in it.

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Carrots are of course delicious and do contain lots of vitamin A which is good for vision but that is just one example of how stories about foods can begin as fiction and then slowly gain credibility when the media become involved.

My GP is a knowledgeable and ­sensible man with many years' experience.

He maintains that one of the main problems with diet today is the proliferation of processed foods.

He has a simple recipe for a healthy life. Take lots of exercise daily and avoid eating anything in a packet or a tin.

Consume only natural produce and take some good quality Omega 3 fish oil regularly for a healthy heart.

I love one of his slogans which goes: "Butter won't make you fat, it's what you put it on that does the damage".

In other words, if you love your carbohydrates in the form of spuds and bread, and eat large quantities of both smothered in butter, they will of course make you fat. But it's the carbohydrates that put on the pounds, not the dairy produce.

Low fat

He also advocates avoiding any food that has the word 'low' written on it because it is often no longer a natural product but owes much of its content to chemical inputs and manufacturing.

I heard a man from the World Health Organisation on the radio suggesting that 34,000 people die from eating meat each year.

What a load of rubbish. Even if meat was genuinely harmful, how could they possibly know so precisely and put a figure like that on it?

He added that a million die annually from smoking.

That I could well believe as only a complete idiot would argue that smoking doesn't cause premature death.

But again, it's that number of a million which is just plucked out of the air without any reference to how it was arrived at.

This is sensationalism at its worst and it gives all such reports a bad name.

Unless you have some specific allergy or complaint, unprocessed beef, lamb and pork are good for us, as is chicken and of course fish along with fresh fruit and vegetables, not containing preservatives and additives but produced as nature intended.

We are natural hunter gatherers and our ancestors thrived on a diet of meat, nuts, leafy greens, grains, berries and fish.

All sorts of strange things are added to our food these days, mostly to extend its shelf life and I for one do not want to eat them.

Get proper, Irish meat from your local butcher and veg from your own garden or from a local organic grower and you cannot go wrong.

Enjoy real butter, lots of eggs, fresh Irish chickens that are not stuffed with brine and avoid anything processed. It's that simple.

Remember also that wine (in moderation) is actually good for us. What a wise and sensible statement. Sláinte!

We must not blindly follow drug firms

If told something often enough, we tend to end up believing it and it is difficult to watch TV without seeing some advertisement advising us how we must reduce cholesterol.

A worldwide industry has been built on convincing us we need to lower our blood cholesterol levels but is this true?

Again I refer back to my GP who maintains that we all have different levels of cholesterol and in general, the level we ourselves have is the right one for us.

He maintains that statins, which are prescribed widely to lower cholesterol, can be bad for us. I had been prescribed them elsewhere some years ago, yet since he told me to stop taking them, I have never felt better.

Clearly, I am not qualified to state what medicines other people should or should not take and I am sure there are some who may genuinely need such medication. I remain sceptical however, as do many doctors worldwide.

We need to always question what the drug companies advise us to take.

Staying healthy is, in general, all about eating sensibly, taking regular exercise and laughing a lot.

Especially the latter.

Indo Farming