A New Buzzword: Unstressed

by Carolyn Matthews

I began attending integrative and functional medicine conferences in 2007, when I first started attending Andrew Weil’s integrative medicine fellowship program at the University of Arizona. Since then, I’ve attended two to four conferences a year from various nutrition, lifestyle, and environmental organizations; they are “brain candy” for me.

I was impressed that from the very beginning of my integrative medicine journey, the speakers stressed the quality of the food we are eating. The traditional medical view at the time was that we should avoid red meat. But at the conferences, not only was red meat in moderation an acceptable part of the diet, it was encouraged- as long as it was pasture raised and grass finished.

In the last two years, I’ve been really pleased to see that the speakers at my conferences, primarily from the institute of functional medicine, are adding the word “unstressed” to the now readily recognized grass-fed, grass finished label.

The concept of xenohormesis is one way of thinking about why it would be important to think about your meat as unstressed. With this concept, one is imbibing some of the hormones that were present in the animal being eaten. It’s not proven, but it makes some sense to me. I know I don’t care to eat conventionally produced beef- just thinking about what seems like a miserable experience (separated from your known herd, crowded in a muddy cesspit and fed pesticide laden grains) ruins the meal for me. No way do I want to imbibe that misery.

At any rate, lifestyle and diet rise to the fore for prevention of chronic disease, and consumers hear more about unstressed beef, small family farms are going to be best positioned to provide unstressed, quality beef to the knowledgeable consumer.