Understanding CLA and Why I Eat Only Grass-Fed Meats

What Is CLA?

Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) is a mixture of different types of isomers of linoleic acid, primarily position and geometric isomers, which is found preferentially in dairy products and meat.

Spending a lot of my time hunting and fishing in Montana for most of my life has brought me bountiful returns when it comes to nutrition and stocking the freezer with fresh meat or fish. I love to eat wild game. And here's why.

To be as healthy as a cave man you have to eat certain kinds of fish, wild game such as venison, or grass-fed meat such as beef. I stress "GRASS FED" because of CLA. Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) is a mixture of different types of isomers of linoleic acid, primarily position and geometric isomers, which is found preferentially in dairy products and meat. With respect to the benefits of exclusively grass-fed meat (over feedlot meat), a particular form of fat that has been more recently lauded for its anti-cancer benefits is one exclusively found in the fat of animals fed on nothing but natural pasture.

In fact, CLA may be one of the most broadly beneficial and potent cancer-fighting substances in our diet. It is somewhat uniquely able to (in very small amounts) block all three stages of cancer: 1) initiation 2) growth/promotion and 3) metastasis. Most “anticancer nutrients” are typically helpful in only one of these areas. To date, beneficial effects of natural CLA from animal fat have been found in cancers of the breast, prostate, colon, and skin.

Recent studies have indicated that a healthy diet should contain a balance of essential fats. The two types of most concern are omega-6 and omega-3, and both are essential for proper nutrition. Omega-3 fat, which is often found in high levels in certain fish, has been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, but too much omega-3 can increase the risk of stroke. Omega-6 fat also is an essential fat, but too much omega-6 in the diet can contribute to inflammatory responses associated with of chronic disease.

According to Bruce Watkins, professor and university faculty scholar at Purdue University, the analysis done at Purdue found that wild elk, deer and antelope from the Rocky Mountains region have greater amounts of omega-3 fatty acids and a lower – and therefore healthier – ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in muscle meats, compared to grain-fed beef.

Cattle raised in conventional Animal Feeding Operations (AFOs), on the other hand, are shipped to giant feed lots and fed corn to fatten them up, and when consumed, this has an impact on your health as well.

When a cow's diet primarily consists of grains, its body's composition (and subsequently yours) changes. In fact, previous studies on grain-fed steer found the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats was between 5-to-1 and 13-to-1, which is far from the ideal.

Since you are what you eat, the beneficial effects of eating grass-fed beef and dairy products with the proper balance of fatty acids are translated into health benefits for you. These foods are rich in all the fats now proven to be health-enhancing, and low in the fats that have been linked with disease.

Since meat from grass-fed animals is lower in fat than meat from grain-fed animals, this means that it is lower in calories as well. By switching to lean grass-fed beef, it is estimated that the average person in the U.S. could reduce intake up to 17,000 calories a year, which is equal to losing about six pounds! Imagine how this could reduce our obesity issues in this country!

So ditch the Mcdonalds burgers and find yourself some organic, free range grass fed beef, Bison, Venison, or Elk. You will feel better and do your body good! We are hunter-gatherers by trade and were evolved as meat eaters. Some vegetarians say humans were originally herbivores, based on a number of physical features we share with other herbivorous animals. They are only right in the sense that our ape ancestors — the genus Australopithecus — were herbivores. Actual humans — the genus Homo — never were; they were hunters and meat eaters as well!

And this my friends is why I hunt. I take pride in my bounty; for it is ultimately keeping me healthy.


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