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A study of Kenyan children consuming just 2 ounces of beef over a two year period showed dramatic improvements in cognitive development, muscle strength, test scores, social skills and more.
February 5, 2019
Yesterday, we registered our son, Thorne, for 3-year-old preschool that will start in the fall. As a mom, it’s exciting to see my babies taking these big steps in life, albeit somewhat bittersweet. However, despite my protests that they never grow up, it’s also really rewarding to see them learn new skills, expand their vocabulary and grow stronger and more agile in their activities.
I recently read an article on the Happy You Happy Family blog post titled, “Want to raise smart, kind kids? Science says to do this every day,” which suggests parents read to their children every day.
This is great advice for parents of young children. In our house, reading to our kids is part of our nightly bedtime routine.
To supplement this advice, I feel like I should write a blog post titled, “Want to raise smart, healthy and strong kids? Science says to feed your kids beef every day."
In light of the EAT-Lancet dietary recommendations that suggest we limit our beef intake to just a few ounces per week, I think it’s critical that we talk about the benefits that nutrient-rich beef provides to young children in their critical developmental years.
Beef is truly a superfood, offering 10 essential nutrients with every serving. Beef is rich in iron to help our body use oxygen; choline to support nervous system development; protein to help preserve and build muscle; selenium to protect cells from damage; zinc to maintain a healthy immune system, Vitamins B6 and B12 to help maintain brain function, phosphorous to help build strong bones and teeth; niacin to support energy production and metabolism and riboflavin to help convert food into fuel.
What’s more, the heart-healthy fats found in beef provide satiety while fueling our brains, and numerous studies show the importance of animal fats and proteins in the diet for optimal health, wellness and physical/mental performance.
An article titled, “Children on meat-free diets suffer impaired growth” has resurfaced on Facebook 14 years after its publication date.
While the report may be dated, the information provided is as valid and current as ever and underscores how vital meat is to young children during their first few years of life.
The article details an African study that involved 544 children in Kenya (average age of 7 years old) whose diets consisted largely of starchy corn and bean staples. Over a period of two years, one group of kids were given a supplemental 2 ounces of meat.
Two other groups received either a cup of milk a day or an oil supplement containing the same amount of energy. The diet of a fourth group was left unaltered.
According to the article, “The changes seen in the children given the meat, and to a lesser extent the milk or oil, were dramatic.”
In fact, according to the study results, “It was found that compared with controls that had no intervention, the meat group had 80% more increase in muscle mass over the two years of the study, and the milk and energy group had 40% more increase in muscle mass.
"In terms of cognitive function, the group that received the meat supplement showed the biggest improvement in fluid intelligence over the two years, and those who had either milk or energy supplements were better than the controls.
"The group that received the meat supplements were more active in the playground, more talkative and playful, and showed more leadership skills.
“Test scores for mental skills improved by 35 points for the meat group, 14 for the milk, and remained unchanged for the children who received no supplements.
“Adding either meat or milk to the diets also almost completely eliminated the very high rates of vitamin B12 deficiency previously seen in the children.”
It may be popular rhetoric to focus on plant-based diets. However, it’s hard to ignore and deny the facts — beef is rich in nutrients that fuel active minds and bodies. To eliminate meat from the diet in young children is completely dangerous and goes against overwhelming evidence that proves the efficacy of animal fats and proteins in the diet.
The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Farm Progress.
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