Which Protein is Healthier, Fish or Beef?

By: Michael Lam, MD, MPH


Fish or beef in moderationYour diet is one of the most important factors in determining your overall health and wellbeing. Eating the right foods is even more important if you are suffering from Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS). Your recovery will depend heavily on how well you treat your body. Your diet fuels your body and provides the essential nutrients it needs to function and heal. If you’re currently trying to figure out which diet is right for you, one of your biggest questions you’re facing may be which type of protein to eat. There has been a lot of debate over whether it’s better to eat fish or beef. If you’re trying to decide, here is some important information you should consider.

The Increasing Popularity of Fish

For a long time, beef was the most popular protein and a mainstay in many people’s diets. However, this all changed in 2011 when fish production overtook beef production and beat out beef production by an even larger margin in 2012. This is a surprising development that is making major changes to the way fish are maintained and produced. The world’s oceans are finite and the fish supplies they hold can become exhausted, which means the oceans cannot keep up with the increasing demands for fish. This has led to an increase in fish farming, which comes with its own set of problems, merely adding to the debate about whether fish or beef is better for you.

Problems with Beef Consumption

The debate is ongoing about whether fish or beef is better for your health. At first glance, it may seem as though beef would instantly lose since it contains a lot of saturated fat and cholesterol, which can cause issues such as cancer, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Moreover, modern beef production methods cause even more problems. Most of the time, animals are kept in deplorable conditions while being pumped full of hormones, antibiotics, and other chemicals to control disease. This means that when you eat beef, you’re eating meat that is full of chemicals. So when you consume beef, the benefits can actually be overshadowed by the toxins contained in the meat. Toxins place more stress on your body and worsen conditions like AFS.

Health Benefits of Fish

Fish is a good source of protein, but it also has another huge advantage that often puts it ahead in the fish or beef debate—it contains omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and heart attacks, and lower bad cholesterol while increasing healthy cholesterol. Omega-3 fatty acids can also help prevent blood clots and stop plaque from forming inside your blood vessels, which can further lower your risk of stroke and heart disease. Certain types of fish contain more omega-3 fatty acids than others, such as tuna, trout, sardines, mackerel, and salmon. So if you’re going to eat fish, these are the most beneficial.

In addition, there are a number of other health benefits of eating fish. First, fish contains vitamin D, a common deficiency in modern society. It may also protect your brain from certain age-related degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. Finally, people who eat fish have lower rates of depression. While this last point is relevant to everyone, it is even more important if you’re suffering from a chronic disorder such as AFS, which is strongly connected to depression.

Should you Eat Fish or Beef?

Fish or beef with lemonThe answer to whether you should eat fish or beef may seem obvious, but changes in fish production have made this more complicated. The seafood industry is growing rapidly and is causing a whole new set of problems. Many fish species are at risk of becoming extinct due to overfishing. Dedicated fish farms have sprung up in an attempt to solve this problem, which is where a lot of fish currently eaten in the modern world is coming from. But as a result, the fish industry is now experiencing the same problems associated with beef production including overcrowding, unnatural diets, disease, and pollution.

Diseases are being spread as a result of these practices such as piscine reovirus, infectious salmon anemia virus, and salmon leukemia virus. Coastal fish species are particularly vulnerable. To manage this, fish are now being fed drugs and chemicals, including synthetic pigments, pesticides, and highly toxic copper sulfate. So, when you eat the fish, you’re also ingesting all of these chemicals and toxins. Many fish are also being fed soy products because they’re cheaper. Unfortunately, they produce more waste and end up polluting the environment. As fish consumption continues to increase, this situation will only get worse in the future.

All of the issues affecting the fish industry make it even more difficult to make the right choice when you’re deciding whether to eat fish or beef. The decision becomes even more important if you’re suffering from AFS and need to reduce the toxic load on your body so you can heal.

Adrenal Fatigue and Toxins

Every day of your life you’re exposed to various toxins, which come from your environment, the food you eat, or even your own internal processes. To your body, toxins register as stress and this can cause major problems. Stress is incredibly damaging and can cause or worsen serious or life-threatening conditions. If you are constantly experiencing stress, your adrenal glands can become fatigued. The adrenals are an integral part of your NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) stress response system, which is automatically activated to prepares your body to respond to stress. Your adrenals glands excrete the stress hormone cortisol, however, when the demand for this hormone is too high over a long period of time, your adrenals can become overworked and will no longer be able to function optimally.

This can lead to a variety of symptoms that many people simply dismiss as part of a busy modern life. But this is a mistake. Over time, the symptoms of AFS can worsen if they are not properly addressed. Your body is comprised of a series of interconnected circuits that rely on each other to function correctly. Therefore, if your adrenals become fatigued, this can cause a cascade of adverse reactions throughout your entire body. The result is often a confusing mix of symptoms that seem to involve every organ and system in your body.

How Your Diet Contributes to Toxicity

Fish or beef and processed foodsThe food you eat is vital in determining the levels of toxins in your body. Whether you eat fish or beef, the toxins in these foods can build up. Over time, if you don’t find a way to address this, the stress levels in your body will increase, which could eventually cause adrenal fatigue. However, the food you eat is even more important if you are already suffering from AFS. Adrenal fatigue often leads to detoxification circuit dysfunction. The detoxification circuit is comprised of the liver, immune system, and the extracellular matrix (ECM), the tissue that surrounds and supports your cells. When this circuit is not functioning correctly because of AFS or other issues, your body will struggle to get rid of toxins that continue to build up, making the situation even more dangerous. Your body registers toxins as even more stress, which will further increase your body’s demand for cortisol. This can contribute to adrenal fatigue and reduce your overall health. Some of the symptoms you may experience include constipation, headaches, muscle pain, joint pain, and general fatigue.

Finding a solution to this problem is not easy. Fish is an important part of the AFS recovery diet because it provides so many essential nutrients. But even if you only eat wild-caught fish, this won’t solve all of the issues. Pollution of the world’s oceans means that even wild caught fish can add toxins to your system and increase the stress on your body. Unfortunately, this potential hazard cannot be completely eliminated. Whether you eat fish or beef, ingesting some toxins along with animal-based of seafood-based protein is just another stressor associated with living in the modern world. The best this you can do is be aware and try to compensate in other ways.

The Takeaway

If you’re improving your diet, it’s a good idea to focus on foods that are good for you and nourish your body. Certain foods clog your system, contribute to toxic overload, and don’t deliver the nutrients you need to be healthy. Some food choices are not as simple as others. If you’re trying to choose between fish or beef, each has their own benefits and drawbacks. The key is choosing a diet full of healthy, nutritious foods that make you feel energized and more balanced. This will improve your health and allow you to heal.

 
© Copyright 2016 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.


Dr. Lam’s Key Question

There is a lot of debate about whether fish or beef is healthier for your body. Both of these proteins have good qualities and bad. The only way to overcome this is to find a healthy balanced diet that works for you.


Fish or beef