The beef industry has a wide array of issues that we are constantly battling. We are vulnerable to wild market swings, unpredictable weather patterns, rising input costs, regulatory pressures, environmental and animal rights activist attacks, and biased media reports, just to name a few.
While we may not have the solutions for all of these problems just yet, I do believe one simple change could dramatically increase beef demand and ultimately help sell our product to our domestic consumers.
Simply stated — we need the government to dramatically alter its Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA).
This pendulum change would not only benefit the beef industry, but it would alter the course of human health, which in the last 40 years has moved in the wrong direction.
Perhaps the DGA recommendations work for some, at least in the short term. But ultimately, a low-fat, high carbohydrate diet mixed with aerobic activity often leads to cravings, expanded waistlines, frustration, yo-yo dieting, diabetes, heart disease, cancer and worse.
What many are now realizing is that to reclaim a person's health and vibrancy, they should follow a diet rich in animal fats and proteins, mixed with high intensity workouts and lifting heavy weights to build and retain muscle.
In a recent op-ed for The Hill, Ben Greenfield, founder and owner of Kion, a company that offers fitness and nutrition services to help people reach their physical and mental performance goals, urges Congress to stop the government from dishing out bad dietary advice based on poor science and personal biases.
In his column, Greenfield writes, “From the beginning, the DGA have reinforced a notion that fats in our diet were the root cause of these diseases. In the original 1977 recommendations, we were encouraged to decrease foods “high in total fat and animal fat” as well as eggs and butter fat, and increase consumption of whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
“These strategies have clearly not worked. In my experience, when it comes to better health, weight management and good cardiovascular outcomes, a far superior approach has always been a diet low in carbohydrates like sugar, high in healthy fats, and moderate in protein combined with weight training and high intensity interval training. Research continues on this approach, and in fact a new database of research on the low carb approach shows how a total of 6,786 people who have participated in 76 studies have had success.
“I’ve also spoken with leading doctors, scientists, and researchers on the frontlines of combating obesity, type 2 diabetes, and other nutrition-related conditions. Time and again, I’ve heard stories of people being cured of type 2 diabetes, obesity and other chronic diseases simply by doing the very opposite of what the DGA tell them.”
The sad thing is, I’ve talked to many ranchers in recent years, who have spent their lifetimes raising beef — one of the healthiest foods one could ever consume — and they still feel guilty eating a burger or steak because it’s been ingrained in our brains for so long that meat is bad and carbohydrates are good. It’s sad, really, because beef has such an excellent nutritional profile, and if the DGA reflected that information, promoting beef to our consumers would be a slam dunk.
We must urge Congress to change the DGA. I know I beat this drum quite often, but it impacts so many people — from students eating school lunch programs to SNAP recipients to patients in heart hospitals to people suffering from diabetes to the elderly in nursing homes. And the sad truth is, this poor dietary advice is hurting our nation by reducing our quality of life, increasing our medical costs and ultimately shortening the time we have with our loved ones.
We’ve got plenty of champions outside of the beef industry on our side — folks like Nina Teicholz and Gary Taubes are tirelessly pushing the truth that less sugar and more meat is the secret cocktail for optimal health. Let’s support these individuals in their crusade, and as an industry, let’s be confident in beef as a health food — not only for its zinc, iron and protein, but for its saturated fats, too.
The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Farm Progress.