Exactly Why The Quality Of Meat You Eat Matters + Where To Buy It
In functional medicine, food is foundational. The food we put on our plate can either feed disease or fuel health. This is the principle that I follow in my own life and in the lives of my patients in my clinic. It is also the principle that pushed me to write Ketotarian – my mostly plant-based keto plan to burn fat, boost your energy, crush your cravings, and calm inflammation.
While Ketotarian is plant-based and designed to help everyone, we also must consider the fact that everyone’s biochemistry is different and people’s tastes and preferences differ as well. The main pitfall of a conventional ketogenic diet is not necessarily that it is just high in meat and dairy, but specifically the conventionally processed meat and dairy sources that make up the majority of people’s diets.
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Animal protein is actually full of important nutrients – particularly wild-caught fish, beef, and organ meats. However, the conventional meat you typically find in the grocery store are from animals fed grains and pumped with hormones which decrease the availability of these naturally-occurring nutrients and can perpetuate a lot of people’s health problems rather than helping overcome them.
Grass-fed and other organ meats contain some of the highest levels of these essential nutrients necessary for optimal health. Two of the most important and abundantly available are B vitamins and Vitamin A.
B vitamins are abundant in grass-fed beef and are essential for healthy methylation pathways. Methylation is a biochemical process that happens more than a billion times each second in your body and controls your body’s hormone, detoxification, brain, and inflammation pathways – making it essential to have properly functioning methylation if you are wanting to optimize your health. B vitamins – B12 in particular – are the fuel behind methylation and grass-fed meat is a very bioavailable source of this nutrient.
There are many different types of B vitamins including:
- B1 (Thiamine)
- B2 (Riboflavin)
- B3 (Niacin)
- B5 (Pantothenic acid)
- B6 (Pyridoxine)
- B7 (Biotin)
- B9 (Folate)
- B12 (Cobalamin)
All of these various forms of B vitamins support different but important areas of the body. Biotin for example, is important for healthy hair, skin, and nails. Just 3 ounces of beef liver provides the 30 mg daily recommend requirement of biotin. B vitamins also help to:
- Boost metabolism (1)
- Optimize brain function and protect from brain issues (2)
- Make neurotransmitters
- Produce powerful antioxidants (3)
- Maintain a balanced stress response and brain-adrenal axis (4)
- Support heart health (5)
- Accelerate injury healing (6)
- Decrease arterial plaque (7)
- Improve mitochondrial health (8)
- Lower pro-inflammatory bad guys like interleukin-6 and TNF-α (9)
Vitamin A comes in two forms; retinol and beta-carotene. The active form of Vitamin A, retinol, is found in organ meat and other animal protein and is broken down quickly by your body for the most bioavailability. While beta-carotene can be found in various vegetables like sweet potatoes, it first has to be broken down and changed, making vegetables a less effective source of this essential vitamin. In fact, research estimates that only 3 percent of beta-carotene is converted in a healthy adult. (10)
Vitamin A is important for maintaining a healthy immune system. Research concludes it has to do with our body’s dendritic cells that act as an alarm for our immune system and signals whether to stimulate or calm the immune system – and vitamin A is necessary for these cells to function optimally.
If you are choosing to add more animal protein into your life, ensuring you get the highest-quality meat is vital. Even though you can go to almost any health food store and find grass-fed and organic meats, there can still a level of unknown and trust that goes into purchasing from your local grocer that the company actually practices what they preach on their label.
That’s why I personally get and recommend Grass Roots Farmers’ Cooperative. I am confident that not only will you be getting the highest quality meat for your nutritional needs, you are also supporting local farmers, and contributing to a healthy environment and happy animals.
Grass Roots has strict guidelines to farmers for animal’s health and well-being including medical treatment, housing and shelter when not on pasture, food and water, pasture and forage requirements, protection from predators, along with transport and handling to ensure the animal is healthy, happy, and safe at all times. Animals are also raised in small groups which makes for a healthier animal and allows for farmers to keep an eye on them at all times.
From an environmental perspective, Grass Roots only works with farmers who use small-batch, regenerative farming that is both beneficial for the animal as well as the soil to promote a sustainable environment.
Grass Roots knows just how important transparency is to their customer so you can be comfortable knowing exactly where your meat comes from and can follow along every step of the way – from the pasture to your plate. You can also be confident in knowing that your purchase also helps provide a living wage for the farmers who are taking such great care of the animals.
Another one of the great things about Grass Roots is that you get to build your own box – whether you love organ meats, want all grass-fed beef, or a mixture of beef and chicken. It’s up to you and it’s delivered directly to your house. Convenience, sustainability, and nutrition in one easy shipment!
Special offer for my readers: Get $30 off a purchase of $150 or more when you use the code WCOLE (first time customers only). Click here to learn more.
If you want to learn more about your own health case please check out our free health evaluation. We offer webcam as well as in-person consultations for people across the country and around the world.
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- Guilland JC. Vitamine B1 (thiamine) [Vitamin B1 (thiamine)]. Rev Prat. 2013 Oct;63(8):1074-5, 1077-8. French. PMID: 24298824.
- Reynolds E. Vitamin B12, folic acid, and the nervous system. Lancet Neurol. 2006 Nov;5(11):949-60. doi: 10.1016/S1474-4422(06)70598-1. PMID: 17052662.
- Chawla J, Kvarnberg D. Hydrosoluble vitamins. Handb Clin Neurol. 2014;120:891-914. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-7020-4087-0.00059-0. PMID: 24365359.
- Kelly GS. Nutritional and botanical interventions to assist with the adaptation to stress. Altern Med Rev. 1999 Aug;4(4):249-65. PMID: 10468649.
- Ahmed M, Azizi-Namini P, Yan AT, Keith M. Thiamin deficiency and heart failure: the current knowledge and gaps in literature. Heart Fail Rev. 2015 Jan;20(1):1-11. doi: 10.1007/s10741-014-9432-0. PMID: 24811895.
- M Aprahamian, A Dentinger, C Stock-Damgé, J C Kouassi, J F Grenier, Effects of supplemental pantothenic acid on wound healing: experimental study in rabbit, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 41, Issue 3, March 1985, Pages 578–589, https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/41.3.578
- Lipszyc PS, Cremaschi GA, Zorrilla-Zubilete M, Bertolino ML, Capani F, Genaro AM, Wald MR. Niacin Modulates Pro-inflammatory Cytokine Secretion. A Potential Mechanism Involved in its Anti-atherosclerotic Effect. Open Cardiovasc Med J. 2013 Sep 20;7:90-8. doi: 10.2174/1874192401307010090. PMID: 24155799; PMCID: PMC3805984.
- Jhala SS, Wang D, Hazell AS. Thiamine deficiency results in release of soluble factors that disrupt mitochondrial membrane potential and downregulate the glutamate transporter splice-variant GLT-1b in cultured astrocytes. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2014 Jun 6;448(3):335-41. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2014.04.017. Epub 2014 Apr 13. PMID: 24735535.
- Si Y, Zhang Y, Zhao J, Guo S, Zhai L, Yao S, Sang H, Yang N, Song G, Gu J, Qin S. Niacin inhibits vascular inflammation via downregulating nuclear transcription factor-κB signaling pathway. Mediators Inflamm. 2014;2014:263786. doi: 10.1155/2014/263786. Epub 2014 May 27. PMID: 24991087; PMCID: PMC4058495.
- Hedrén E, Diaz V, Svanberg U. Estimation of carotenoid accessibility from carrots determined by an in vitro digestion method. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2002 May;56(5):425-30. doi: 10.1038/sj.ejcn.1601329. PMID: 12001013.
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BY DR. WILL COLE
Dr. Will Cole, IFMCP, DNM, DC, leading functional medicine expert, consults people around the world via webcam and locally in Pittsburgh. He received his doctorate from Southern California University of Health Sciences and post doctorate education and training in functional medicine and clinical nutrition. He specializes in clinically researching underlying factors of chronic disease and customizing a functional medicine approach for thyroid issues, autoimmune conditions, hormonal imbalances, digestive disorders, and brain problems. Dr. Cole was named one of the top 50 functional medicine and integrative doctors in the nation and is the best selling author of Ketotarian and The Inflammation Spectrum.