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  • Writer's pictureGary Moller

Why Fatty Meat is Good for Your Brain!

Updated: Apr 6


I'm at that age where cognitive decline (dementia) is an issue for many people.


Family feeding pigs

I received the following email today from Ifan Lloyd, a veterinary surgeon (edited for brevity):


"Hi Gary,


I’ve been invited to do a 20-30-minute presentation to a group of small pig producers on “why meat is good for you”. This is to support the case for making meat an important part of people’s diet.


They’re aware I’m not an expert on or enjoy any qualification relating to food, diet, or nutrition (except for animals!). The reason for the talk is to help them market their products as an essential part of a healthy, wholefood diet to support good health.

Don’t put yourself out but would welcome any straplines or messages and/or slides you could share with me to include in the presentation.


Thanks.

Kind regards,"


Gary:

Ifan, the UK-based author of this email is a veterinary surgeon who specialises in farm animal preventative medicine ( including nutrition) in grass-based cattle and sheep enterprises. He has taken an interest in health for running through my sister, Lorraine's, Lydiard Foundation coaching course modules on nutrition and metabolic health. This led to a major reset of his personal diet toward whole foods, in particular, animal-based protein and fats. This has been adopted as an integral component of his training programme to prepare for endurance races at the elite level as a senior master in the over-60-year-old category. It can be modestly said that Ifan is one of the fastest and most enduring master runners in the world!!


When it comes to Understanding Human Nutrition, who better to consult than a Rural Vet?

It has been said that rural veterinarians are a great source of knowledge regarding nutrition and health, so Ifan's advice and information have been invaluable to me. The animal health sciences have much to teach us about human health since we are all mammals.


So, to return the favour, what is a good angle or theme to present to a group of small-scale pig farmers?


Malnutrition and Dementia: The Little Understood Connection:

The Developed World is being swamped by a Tsunami of cognitive decline (dementia, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's etc) within their ageing populations. Two drivers of this epidemic threaten to overwhelm families and health services: These are medication side effects and malnutrition.


Let's deal with malnutrition and think about how boutique pig farmers can be part of the solution.


Please read this:


Your Brain is Fat!

As we age, the amount of fat and oil in our diets decreases, even though the brain is composed of about 60% of these nutrients. In many cases, healthy unprocessed fats are scarce, and apart from some synthetic margarine and processed vegetable oil, they are hardly available. This is a recipe for brain disaster!


Why are Essential Fatty Acids Essential for Brain Health?

Essential fatty acids (EFAs) keep our brains in top shape, playing a huge role in how well we think and remember things. Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, especially DHA and EPA are the building blocks of brain cells. They help keep the structure of neurons, making it easier for brain cells to talk to each other and keeping our whole brain working smoothly.


These fats are tied to better learning, memory, and even keeping our moods in check. Since our bodies can't make these fats by themselves, they are called EFAs. Fatty meat, eggs, full cream milk, oily fish, coconut, flaxseeds, walnuts, and certain oils are key to keeping our brains in top form. If they are not in our diet, as a rich supply of EFAs, how is it possible to maintain a healthy brain?


No Healthy Fats Means No Fat-Soluble Vitamins!

Fat-soluble vitamins are defenders of the brain, safeguarding its health and functionality in various ways. Vitamins A, D, E, and K, being fat-soluble, play essential roles in maintaining brain health.


  • Vitamin A aids in the formation of protective tissues around the brain, acting as an antioxidant that shields brain cells from damage caused by harmful molecules called free radicals.

  • Vitamin D supports cognitive function and regulates neurotransmitters, and it has inflammation-regulating properties, thus contributing to overall brain health.

  • Vitamin E, known for its antioxidant properties, protects cell membranes in the brain from oxidative stress, thereby preserving cognitive abilities.

  • Vitamin K plays a role in brain cell survival and supports healthy brain ageing.

Their solubility in fats allows these vitamins to permeate the blood-brain barrier, ensuring their vital contributions to brain protection and function. Incorporating a balanced diet rich in these fat-soluble vitamins is crucial for fortifying the brain's defences against various threats and maintaining optimal cognitive performance.


But here's the kicker: If there are no healthy fats and oils in the diet then there won't be any or much in the way of fat-soluble vitamins.


But What about Fat and Heart disease?

Won't a diet high in animal fat cause an increase in heart disease? Is fat really that bad, or is there something else at work here that we should be aware of?


Fat-Soluble Vitamins to the Rescue!

Fat-soluble vitamins stand as guardians against heart disease through several mechanisms, notably by thwarting the oxidation of fats and oils within the body. This prevention of fat and oil from turning rancid is pivotal in mitigating potential damage, as rancid fats are particularly detrimental to heart health.


When fats oxidise, they generate harmful compounds that can wreak havoc on blood vessels, leading to inflammation and contributing to the development of cardiovascular issues.


Vitamins A, D, E, and K, being fat-soluble, play crucial roles in protecting against this oxidation process, thereby preserving the integrity of fats and oils in our system. By shielding these essential dietary fats from becoming rancid, these vitamins serve as a shield, safeguarding the heart while still allowing the body to benefit from essential fatty acids crucial for overall health.


This action of preventing fats from going rancid underscores the importance of these fat-soluble vitamins in maintaining cardiovascular well-being.


Pork: A Super-Food for the Brain!

As a general rule, I seldom eat pork products unless it is free-range. I'm not keen on large industrial-scale animal production, such as that commonly associated with the pork industry. Many consumers will agree with me and are prepared to pay a premium for free-range produce.


So, in this case, assuming these animals are cared for and get to roam, instead of being caged, there is a marketing opportunity, associating pork with brain health. After all, pork has a high-fat content as compared to most other meats, the extreme in leanness being venison and rabbit.


As they say: "You are what you eat", so the brain health properties of the pork will depend on what the animal is fed. If fed in such a way that the produce is subsequently rich in fat-soluble vitamins and EFAs, then it can be claimed to be good for the brain.



Let there be Sunlight!

Upon reviewing the article titled "The importance of fat-soluble vitamins" one will discern the necessity for animals to spend time outdoors, basking in sunlight exposure on their oily fur, hair and skin to enable the conversion of exposed cholesterol into cholecalciferol (Vitamin D) by irradiation of ultraviolet light. This explains the behaviour of a cat lounging in the sun and subsequently grooming its fur, as well as the principle behind horses not requiring covers unless weather conditions are exceedingly severe. Similarly, pigs require sunlight exposure to accumulate adequate levels of vitamin D within their bodies.


Test the Produce!

It may be possible to make certain health claims for pork, so long as care is taken to how it is produced, and the claims are validated by testing to confirm that the nutrients such as the fat-soluble vitamins and EFAs do exist in ample amounts. So, the final element in this exercise is to test the produce for these nutrients.


Conclusion:

Boutique-produced pork holds the potential to be marketed as brain-healthy given it meets the conditions outlined in this article.


Further Information:

Dr John Campbell recently posted an interview on his YouTube channel. It’s with Professor David Anderson a retired medical consultant from the UK who is the co-author of a book on Vitamin D and the pandemic. He offers a deep dive into Vitamin D before offering his expertise on reasoning why strengthening your natural immunity is preferable to vaccination for infections such as COVID-19.


This is not anti-vaccination, but calling for a more holistic approach to maintaining a healthy immune system. Vitamin A and zinc feature in the interview. It’s just over an hour long but it’s further testimony of a distinguished academic who is a clear expert in this area getting a voice, although this is unlikely to percolate into mainstream media. It’s about time actuaries representing insurance companies cottoned on to this.






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3 Comments


anayasmiley
Nov 16, 2023

You don’t sound very convinced or convincing Gary 🤩 If we are indeed what we eat I’d much rather be broccoli 🥦 than a pig 🐷

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Kiwi Cam
Kiwi Cam
Nov 15, 2023

Animal fats are a magnet for toxins like heavy metals, so we want to make sure the animals are given a clean environment with minimal toxic interventions and foods. Pork doesn't have the greatest reputation in many circles, but I won't make any specific claims here as I'll go down another rabbit hole I don't have time for.

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Gary Moller
Gary Moller
Nov 15, 2023
Replying to

You are correct, Cam, that toxins trend to accumulate in organs like the liver, kidneys, fat and bone, including the brain (fat). So, it is helpful to know how an animal was raised and fed. Older animals tend to be more toxic which is why it is not wise to eat old liver or kidneys.


The issue of toxins also applies to plants. Exposure to glyphosate for example.

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