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The flesh of animals taken as food. Meat is the principal provider of high-quality protein and fat, and important other vitamins such as B12 and minerals such as zinc. Organ meats, like liver, heart and kidney, are the most nutritious. Livers, in particular, of beef, calf, lamb and pork are all known to strength the body in stressful conditions. - desiccated liver tablets being available at health food shops.

However, its metabolic by-products in the body are very toxic. People on meat-centred diets are often thirsty - they need fluids to flush these toxins out. More and more studies published in the media are advising the public to cut down on red meat.

The accelerating incidence of heart disease and cancer has been linked with beef consumption, which has increased from 120kg per person in 1950 to almost 300kg pp today.

Also, beef in the 50's provided more nutrients and was much leaner, with 5-10 per cent carcass fat, largely unsaturated. Today's mass-produced cattle, generally deprived of grazing and treated with antibiotics, hormones and tranquillisers, have 30 per cent fat - in which many of these drugs are stored. Meat products are then often treated with nitrates to preserve them. These can combine in the stomach to form nitrosamines, potent carcinogens that are found to produce cancer in rats after only one dose.

Processed ground-meat product like sausages and hot dogs are the most dangerous, since poor grade meats and preservatives, which can be used in their preparation are hard to detect in these highly-seasoned products. For more information on nutrition see 'Nutrients A to Z' by Dr. Michael Sharon (Prion Books)

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