On Your Health

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The Risks of a Manly Man Diet

Manly Man- to be manly, manful, mannish or having the traits or qualities that a culture regards as especially characteristic of or appropriate to adult men.”

Today we’re focusing on manly men and their diets. Let’s face it, most guys automatically feel extra manly when doing things like hunting, fishing, working in the garage or ordering a large juicy steak at dinner. Actually, relating masculinity to red meat has been ingrained into western society over time, stemming all the way back to the cavemen. But that doesn’t mean you’re obligated as a man to consume large amounts of red meat, especially if it can negatively affect your health.

Diverticulitis

Recent studies have shown a correlation between a diet high in red meats and an increased risk of diverticulitis. Diverticulosis is a condition that occurs when small pouches or sacs form and push outward through weak spots in the wall of your colon. Diverticulitis happens when the pouches in the wall of your colon become inflamed and, if left untreated, can lead to serious complications that may require surgery.

Why does red meat cause diverticulitis?

According to recent reports, red meat has been linked to increased levels of C-reactive protein, ferritin, which is an inflammatory chemical. Also, red meat consumption could influence the gut bacteria called microbiome, potentially affecting the lining and the immune responses of the gastrointestinal tract. Lastly, cooking techniques that use high temperatures to cook cuts of unprocessed red meat could be a factor in the development of diverticulitis. Theories are still being tested and many other factors must also be considered, such as what kind of “red meat” is being tested, is the meat unprocessed or processed, and all levels of fat content.

Sausages on Shelf

The health benefits of red meat

Pam Patty, a registered dietitian at INTEGRIS, says it’s important to first look at the nutritional contribution of red meat. “Iron is needed by the body to help red blood cells carry oxygen, and to help with brain health/function such as cognition, learning, memory and reasoning,” Patty says. “Red meat provides the zinc that is needed to build the body’s muscles and heal wounds, maintain the immune system and reinforce brain health. Also, B12 is a vitamin that is very important to red blood cell production and the nervous system, as well as being part of DNA synthesis. B12 is found in animal sources only, and red meat is an excellent source.”

Should you limit your red meat intake?

In a recent article in Today’s Dietitian, the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee identified a healthful dietary pattern as being lower in red and processed meat.

You don’t have to give up your grill master status completely. ”You first need to determine if red meat is being over-consumed in the first place, and if that answer is yes, then cut back,” Patty says. “It’s important to remember that not all red meat has the same amount of saturated fat. There are actually 19 cuts of beef that meet the government’s labeling guidelines for lean.” Sirloin is often a great lean choice and is easily found at most restaurants and grocery stores.

Recommended weekly intake

“According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the recommended weekly intake of red meat for men is 26 ounces from all animal sources including meat, poultry and eggs,” Patty explains. One serving of meat is 2-3 ounces cooked. Try using the palm of your hand for quick and easy measuring. That’s about the size you want after your meat is cooked.

Man eating a hamburger in a restaurant 

Protein substitutes to keep manly men full

There are plenty of other sources of protein to keep you full. “Beans, peas, lentils, whole grains like barley, steel cut oats, quinoa, millet and brown rice, in combination with a variety of plant and animal proteins, can help the body meet its nutrient needs and provide that satiety that keeps men feeling like they ate a real meal,” Patty says.

Even though protein reigns supreme in the manly man diet, it’s important to include vegetables, fruits and nutritious fats.

“Vegetables and fruits – in their whole forms, this includes their peels or skins– can be great sources of fiber and nutrition,” Patty says. “Think fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, and that all-important aspect of what ultimately overrides a man’s food choice: taste."

Key takeaways:

  • Moderation is important. Follow recommended intake guidelines (26 ounces weekly) and swap higher fatty meats for lean cuts.
  • Include a variety of proteins in your diet. This includes low-fat dairy products, beans, whole grains and nuts.
  • Limit your processed meats. This includes bacon, sausage and other modified meats.
  • Make sure your diet includes a healthy balance of protein, fruits, vegetables and fat-soluble vitamins.

In honor of Men's Health Week, we all want to work together to help men of all ages achieve their personal health goals by providing relevant and responsible dietary recommendations. Manly men rejoice! You can still enjoy steaks at dinner without losing an ounce of your manliness. However, keep in mind that red meat needs to be eaten in moderation and accompanied by a well-balanced, healthy diet.

Read more about teenagers and protein and healthy fats for more information.

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