Last week, we , Abiti Joyce Befu, Sheikh Jean-Philippe LePoisson, Mzee Native Authority Mandela, and I, the Mohashoi, urged the Malawian public to heed the warning WHO scientists and medical doctors made linking processed meats and red meat to possible cancer in human beings that consume the said products in excess of 50g or two slices of bacon per day. Well this week, we adapt an article from the Conversation, which cites scientists who believe otherwise.
The increase in the world’s population has led to challenges in maintaining a balanced diet in both the developed and the developing world. More than two billion people worldwide suffer from “hidden hunger” or micronutrient deficiency.
The inadequate intake of essential micro-nutrients is detrimental to the mental and physical development of children and reduces the productivity and work capacity of adults.
Over the last two decades, there has been a significant reduction in food insecurity with the number of hungry or undernourished people decreasing from 18.7 percent to 11.3 percent. But, globally, food insecurity continues to be a daunting challenge. The prevalence and severity of food insecurity varies at regional, national and household levels. At least two-thirds of the world’s food-insecure households are found in developing countries.
The current food security threats go beyond insufficient food quality. Nutritional value, safety and the distribution of the available foods all have an impact. In addition, outbreaks of food-borne illnesses and mass food contamination have been frequently reported as threats to food safety – a consequence of the rising pressure to rapidly increase food production.
Good quality meat has the potential to reduce food insecurity and poverty. It should be considered a tool to eliminate “hidden hunger”. This would require making sure it is evenly distributed across the world.
But there are several limitations that may contribute to the slow progress of using meat to conquer food insecurity worldwide.
Science has shown that lean meat is good for you. This is because it contains properties that positively moderate lipid profiles in the body. This in turn has a positive impact on long-term health by producing polyunsaturated fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA).
Some polyunsaturated fatty acids can help reduce bad cholesterol levels in the blood and can lower the risk of heart disease, stroke and breast cancer. Linoleic acid contains fat fighting, insulin lowering properties which suppress the development of cancer in different areas of the body. This is the case even at relatively low dietary levels.
This is true of lean, unprocessed meat. Processed meat is a different story. A recent report by the World Health Organisation classifies processed meat as a carcinogen in the same category as plutonium and alcohol. It cautions that eating 50g of processed meat a day, which is the equivalent of up to two slices of bacon, increases the chance of developing colorectal cancer by 18%.
The same report acknowledges that meat is a rich source of nutrients and that eating meat and meat products also has health benefits. The moderation of meat consumption rather than eliminating it from one’s diet remains the most reasonable recommendation.
It is important for consumers to pay attention to the quality and quantity of the meat they consume – and how they prepare it. Setting personal health goals, such as consuming just enough to meet the average nutrient requirements, is key.
Chicken as a meat source can be viewed as a short term stepping stone. Chicken consumption has increased dramatically over the years, mostly due to its health qualities and lower cost.
Misconceptions about meat and its affect on health need to be tackled head on. Human beings were born omnivores. Meat has been part of their diet through the ages. This is one of the reasons it should be considered as part of any diet, as well as part of the solution to food insecurity.
For more visit, http://theconversation.com/why-meat-is-important-in-the-global-battle-against-food-insecurity-49176