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Steak May Be Good for Your Brain

Recent studies suggest that red meat does not increase the risk of stroke.

The goal is to do what we can to prevent dementia. Many things may contribute to that, but clearly, we don't want to have brain damage from a stroke. And there may be actions you can take to reduce the risk of a stroke.

It's high time that we stop making generalizations that are too broad and neglect the truth that every one of us has a unique genetic fingerprint, and that we are all subject to the passage of time. Time means wear-and-tear, on the inside and out. Dealing with our own, personal wear-and-tear matters.

So what about diet? Doesn't the right diet make us immortal and invincible? Isn't the "wrong" food somehow toxic, to everyone? Maybe not.

Last month, a study published in the British Medical Journal (September 4, 2019) reviewed dietary data on 48,000 people over 18 years. The results indicated that vegans had a 20% higher rate of strokes.

Earlier this month, a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine (October 1, 2019), compiled all the previously published studies on diet and cardiovascular risk. There was a combined total of over four million people studied. The conclusion: There was not a strong correlation between red meat consumption and the risk of having a stroke.

So, maybe meat isn't toxic after all — or at least not toxic to everyone. Maybe cardiometabolics matter. Cardiometabolics is our current way of understanding that if we are not genetically prepared to metabolize the calories we eat, then we store them. Excess calorie storage can lead to weight gain, elevated blood sugar, cholesterol, and insulin resistance — all things that accelerate the aging of our arteries (and that's a problem).

Instead of assuming we have all the right answers, perhaps it is better to have the right questions. What is the health of my heart? What is the health of my arteries? What are my heart's rate and rhythm? How do I know? Is it time to do something, or do something different? What am I doing to prevent a stroke and protect my brain?

Humans are not strict carnivores. I deliberately ignored cancer risks, gut issues, and the social, economic and environmental impact of an animal-based diet. Eat your vegetables, but then ask: What am I doing to prevent a stroke?


More from Joshua S. Yamamoto M.D.
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