October 12, 2011 Maybe you have heard about the value of grass-fed beef. Beef that comes from grass-fed or pastured animals is chock full of health benefits. 100% grass-fed beef is fed on grasses, sometimes hay and alfalfa, and what is called “forage”, or the wild plant life that you would find out in a pastured field. This means that all the nutrients and minerals found in the soil and in pastured land gets consumed by the cattle and end up in the meat that you eventually eat. Recently, Body Ecology had the opportunity to speak to Dr. Lowell Novy of Novy Ranches and Jordan Rubin from Beyond Organic. Both Dr. Novy and Jordan Rubin are experts in the field of raising premium, 100% grass-fed beef. They explained to us exactly why grass-fed is so valuable: because it’s better for the environment, it’s better for the body, and it’s better for your family and friends. You Are What You Eat This means that what you put into your body becomes the building material for new cells and the energy to fuel this process. When we eat foods that make sense to our bodies, everything runs smoothly. While there are many theories floating around about exactly which foods are best for optimal health, looking toward traditional food and traditional food preparation is a good place to begin. Traditional foods have nourished the human body for generations, long before the advent of modern food processing. Modern disease is just that: a product of modern times. Food additives, preservatives, flavorings, coloring, and other taste gimmicks all add up in the body. Many current, widespread degenerative diseases, autoimmune conditions, and learning disorders can all be traced back to the food that we eat. Are you eating grass-fed beef? Grass-fed beef is rich in omega-3 fatty acids to fight inflammation and reduce the risk of type II diabetes, thyroid disorders, and obesity. Cattle too are what they eat. If cattle eat a diet that they are not meant to consume, they become unhealthy. If you’re willing to buy beef from an animal that has been fed chemically treated corn because you think it’s the same stuff that comes from 100% pasture-raised cattle, think again. These two products are drastically different. After eating grass-fed beef, you can literally feel the difference in your own body. One of the most remarkable benefits of grass-fed beef is its high omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acid profile. While many of us have heard that cold-water fish are an especially good source of healthy omega-3 fatty acids, few of us know that when raised naturally and on pastured land, beef has its own healthy fats to boast about. These are: A healthy ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids. A special fat called conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). Almost everyone needs that extra omega-3 boost because too many of us consume hidden omega-6 fats, which, in excess, are pro-inflammatory. Since inflammation plays a significant role in many degenerative diseases, this is certainly something you would want to avoid! Excessive dietary omega-6 fatty acids have been shown to: Contribute to inflammation. (1) Contribute to type II diabetes. (2) Lead to insulin resistance. (3) Interfere with thyroid function. (4) Program “obese genes” that persist over four generations. (5) Contrary to what we know about omega-6 fatty acids, most food sold in markets, even organic food, contains vegetable and seed oils that are high in omega-6 fatty acids. Grain-fed beef has a high pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acid profile. And 100% grass-fed beef? Its healthy omega-3 fatty acid profile rivals that of some fish. In order to get these fats, however, you need cuts of meat that have an exterior layer of fat. You can also find omega-3 fats in other nutrient-dense parts of the animal, such as the liver and bone marrow. Another important fatty acid that is found abundantly in grass-fed beef is conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). CLA is unique and sought-after because it is a nutrient that can tone up and slim down the waistline. You read that right: CLA is a fat that helps you lose fat! Some studies even show that CLA can suppress tumor growth. (6) Grass-fed beef also has other nutrients like the fat-soluble antioxidant vitamin E and the amino acids L-carnitine and carnosine. You may have already heard about the antioxidant value of vitamin E. But why are antioxidants important? Antioxidants are known for their ability to protect the body against free radical damage, or what is otherwise known as oxidative stress. Oxidative stress leads to the degeneration of tissue, aging, and the inflammatory response. A little oxidative stress is normal. A lot of oxidative stress can become a burden and wear the body down. Like vitamin E, carnosine has antioxidant value. It also is an amino acid. It turns out that carnosine inhibits proteins from cross-linking up to sugars. This cross-linking action actually accelerates the aging process, both within and without! For example, this can show up in the skin as wrinkles or in the veins as brittle vasculature. For this reason, carnosine is particularly popular among those interested in anti-aging therapies. Because carnosine is concentrated in brain and muscle tissue, the best place to find it is in meat. Carnosine is especially abundant in grass-fed meat. L-carnitine is another amino acid that even as an isolated dietary supplement is popular for its ability to keep the body youthful. L-carnitine encourages the body to breakdown fat as an energy source. This means that it can have a slimming effect if used correctly in whole food form. Like carnosine, L-carnitine has a significant antioxidant effect in the body. Rather than protecting proteins, however, L-carnitine protects fats from oxidation. If you do not already have a reliable source for 100% grass-fed beef, look into Novy Ranches and Beyond Organic. Dr. Novy, a veterinarian practicing in Southern California, also spends part of his time managing Novy Ranches. Novy Ranches runs through Shasta Valley in Northern California and is located on extremely rich soil. Remember, what goes into the forage and grass also goes into the cattle. Dr. Novy has a personal commitment to the environment, animal protection, wildlife conservation, and to the health of the human body. In the food industry, this kind of foresight is revolutionary, as all elements of health and wellbeing are interrelated. As Dr. Novy tells us, “The cattle actually own the ranch. We’re just there taking care of them. We do the very best we can.” You can find Dr. Novy’s 100% pasture-raised beef online at www.novyranches.com. If you are in Southern California, Novy Ranches beef is available at 14 farmer’s markets in Los Angeles and Ventura counties. They will also ship cuts to you. Or, you can also visit their store located in Simi Valley. Beyond Organic encompasses 9,000 acres of certified organic land that has been designed to foster truly healing foods. One food that founder Jordan Rubin features is 100% grass-fed beef, raised on pastures in southern Missouri and north Georgia. Jordan went through a healing journey himself 15 years ago after being diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and chronic fatigue syndrome. After being in and out of hospitals for 2 years and in a wheelchair, at the age of 20 Jordan discovered how to use traditional foods like pasture-raised meats and fermented dairy in order to heal his gut, repair his immune system, and restore his energy. His new company, Beyond Organic, grew from the realization that food can either damage or repair the body. Shopping Tips: Beef that is grass-fed and grain-finished is common. Green-finished means that the cattle is not grain-finished and has remained on pasture 90-120 days before harvest. According to Jordan Rubin, these final 30 days are the most significant in determining the nutrient value of an animal. The distinction between grain-finished and green-finished is sometimes not made, so it is important to ask. The label “organic” does not mean that the animal was grass-fed. When shopping for grass-fed meats, be sure and locate 100% grass-fed beef.