Of Meat and Eggs

 Egg yolk closeup - Public Domain Picture

Since the late 1990s’, when I left my vegan years behind, I have embraced the notion that eggs are goods for you.  Lately I was looking into some research on the subject, and I was left in doubt. There is an ongoing disagreement, in fact controversy ensues.
 
All of us have become familiar with the issue of nutritional cholesterol. Since high cholesterol levels are linked to cardiovascular disease, the argument for years has been over the fact that consuming foods high in cholesterol raises the concentration of LDL (the bad cholesterol). It was following this reasoning that the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommended that cholesterol from foods be limited to 300 milligrams per day.

 

A vast number of dietary research studies have shown this notion to be erroneous. Already in the 1990s a decade of epidemiological studies indicated that eggs and dietary cholesterol are not a significant factors in heart disease risk.
 
More recently, in 2013, Tuft University published a systematic review of all studies from 2003 or after. Most of them, taking into account a controlled background diet, found that altering cholesterol consumption had no effect on the concentration of blood LDL cholesterol.  Few of the studies could detect differences only in small subgroups of people with certain genes or a predisposition to problems.
 

In this new light, last February the DGAC issued its more than 500-page scientific report,  where this year’s most dramatic change was the removal of that 300 milligrams per day limit recommendation. The committee general consensus was that “cholesterol is not a nutrient of concern for overconsumption.”

Seems like good news for egg lovers like myself, who can once again enjoy eggs for breakfast without the lingering doubt of increasing their cholesterol level, right? Not so fast.    


In March Dr. Dean Ornish was all over the news after the New York Times published his article ‘The Myth of High-Protein Diets’ on their opinion pages.  According to Dr Ornish, ‘eggs and bacon are not healthy foods.’
 


The article was critical about the real impact that the DGAC dietary recommendations have been having on the general American public, while at the same time attempting to scientifically debunk the high protein dietary approach.  He made his point by reporting recent research that showed how animal protein may significantly increase the risk of premature mortality from all causes.

“Low-carb, high animal protein diets promote heart disease”…



Considering that recently I re-introduced gass-fed beef – red meat – into my diet as well, I felt compelled to look further into the matter.
 
As a teenager I became convinced that meat is bad for you, mostly because I felt it was unnatural to breed animals as our food supply. Over the years I realized how my determination of being a vegetarian at heart, was mainly a ‘mind thing,’ my body was just dragging along,  barely putting up with it. I then started to eat some meat but always randomly.
 
 
After the cancer diagnosis, I felt compelled to go back to a strict vegetarian diet.  Going through chemo and radiation, left me 35 pounds lighter and I realized that once again I was doing poorly on a vegetarian approach. I started experiencing red meat cravings like never before.
 
That’s when I became aware of the succesful work of the ‘grandfather of naturopathy’ the late Dr. James D’Adamo who for decades helped many people heal through a dietary approach and developed the blood type diet. I realized  that probably due to the fact that I am a type ‘O’, I would benefit from gradually reintroduce some good meat into my diet. I started having meat Mondays, and I currently consume small amounts of meat several times a week. Now, reading this article by Dr. Ornish, a renowned nutrition expert and writer, the notion that eating red meat and eggs is bad for you, was up in my face once again.
 
 
Studies out of the Cleveland Clinic, the base for Dr. Ornish argument, were published in 2013. Researchers found that after consuming red meat and eggs, which contain high amounts of choline and carnitine, these get metabolized by the gut bacterias and then transferred to the liver that produces TMAO, which is the new villain responsible for the arterial clogging and blockages. So, down on egg yolks and red meat as once again they appear to significantly increase the risk of coronary heart disease and cancer.  When the study was published Dr. Ameht Oz felt compelled to apologize to his audience for promoting L-Carnitine as an aid in weight loss and physical performance. Even if, as he stated, “carnitine supplementation does not seem to be an issue with vegetarians.”

 
I have started supplementing with carnitine myself when I found out that studies supported its use for cancer patients with persisting neurotoxicity. All these considerations on red meat, eggs, and carnitine seemed to be hitting home.
 
 
 
Then, I found out that while the Clevelad Clinic deemeded the carnitine-microbial connection dangerous for heart health, a systematic review published by the Mayo Clinic said that L-Carnitine can reduce mortality, abnormal heart rhythms and angina development in patients experiencing a heart attack. As for choline, studies have shown how it is a necessary part of the human diet. Choline is important in making membranes for all the cells in the body, and for making chemicals that are responsible for nerve function. Studies have also shown that choline improves memory.

Are you confused yet? I was…  And there is more:
 
“Animal protein increases IGF-1, an insulin-like growth hormone, and chronic inflammation, an underlying factor in many chronic diseases.” presses on the opinion piece on the New York Times. On the contrary, a study published on ‘Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology‘  reports that IGF-1 Reduces Inflammatory Responses, Suppresses Oxidative Stress, and Decreases Atherosclerosis Progression…

One more attack on red meat involves a recent study done on Neu5Gc, is defined in the opinion article as ‘a tumor-forming sugar that is linked to chronic inflammation and an increased risk of cancer.’  The study on Neu5Gc, a sugar naturally found in most mammals but not in humans, was performed at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine. The study was prompted by the circumstantial observation that people who eat a lot of red meat are known to be at higher risk for certain cancers, while other carnivores are not. Researchers, once again employed mice models. They themselves admit that will be extremely hard to obtain a final proof of their findings on humans.
 
‘If we really do want to know whether a food causes a problem’ explains Dr. Deborah Gordon ‘we have to subject it to a randomized, double blind, controlled trial, or a “RDBCT”. These are expensive and difficult to run, but they are our best attempt at clarifying issues of causation. Yet even RDBCT’s turn out to yield different results at different times. It is very difficult to determine true causation.’
 
Apart from Dr. Ornish opinion that persistently adhere to the now disproved notion that eggs and red meat are bad for human consumption, most of the problem here resides in the scientific methodology of the research itself.

 
The University of California study used genetically ingeneered and modified mice to create a ‘similar’ model to the human system where the Neu5Gc sugar is absent. They were also fed only the sugar, not the whole and nutritionally more complex piece of red meat.
Cleveland Clinic researchers were looking at specific mechanisms of action when eating certain specific type of foods. They use animal models employing germ-free mice. In preparing their subjects to determine the TMAO production, researchers apply antibiotics to clear the gut bacteria from unwanted strains.
In addition, the research study is lacking a comparison with TMAO production that might be induced when ingesting green vegetables, fruits, or fish.(1)
 
Only in recent years we  have begun to understand the role and importance of microbes not only living within our body, but being an integral part of our system.


According to Jeffrey Gordon, professor at the Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine,  there are 10 times more microbial cells on and in our bodies than there are human cells. That means that we’re 90 percent microbial and 10 percent human. There’s also an estimated 100 times more microbial genes than the genes in our human genome. Humans are really an amalgamation of microbial parts.

All of us have become too familiar with the havoc antibiotics create in the microbial balance within a body system.

In addition, Dr. Ornish and all these dietary studies do not seem to really make a distinction about the source and quality standard of the food consumed by their subjects. Are we talking about USDA prime meat and supermarket eggs? or organic? grass-fed and pastured?  

 


The issue with ordinary meat and dairy is their poor quality. Cattle, goats, sheeps are herbivorous, while chickens and ducks  are omnivorous. All of them, when not maintained in their natural habitat, eating grass and foraging under the sun, yield substandard, milk, eggs and meat.  Accoding to the Mayo Clinic, grass-fed beef may have some heart-health benefits that other types of beef don’t have. When compared with other types of beef, grass-fed beef may have:

  • Less total fat
  • More heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids
  • More conjugated linoleic acid, a type of fat that’s thought to reduce heart disease and cancer risks
  • More antioxidant vitamins, such as vitamin E

Unfortunately when ruminants are fed large amounts of grains, it can cause their guts to become unnaturally acidic. This can result in an increased risk of disease and health issues.(2)
Their nutritional value is depleted just like their organisms, which are too easily subject to disease.  As a consequence their meat is often loaded with toxins from administered  drugs, hormones, chemical contamination, and antibiotics. It has been reported that 80 percent of all antibiotics sold in the United States are for use on livestock and poultry.

 

 

The majority aren’t even given to animals that are sick. Instead, it’s normal practice in the meat industry to mix these drugs with livestock food and water day after day as a substitute for healthier living conditions and to make chickens, pigs, and cows grow faster.

 


What really causes heart problems and other diseases is the dietary balance shift of the past few decades where we are being induced by the food industries to consume increasingly more substandard mass produced meats, dairy and sugar leaden food-like products that offer little or no nutrition. Supermarket shelves and refrigerators are filled with poor quality items. Livestock and dairy have become high in omega-6 oils, which have been known for causing heart disease and the inflammation mentioned by Dr. Ornish. 

 

 

 

People following the regular American diet, or any diet for that matter, without any regard for where and how the food they put in their mouth was sourced, are most likely already feeding a stressed and depleted body system. Inflammation generally triggered by diet and environmental contaminants is increasingly being considered the underlying cause of all diseases. The organism is continuously striving to re-built a balance, and what it needs is good quality, nutritious foods to get better.

 


Every day we hear yet another argument, study or dietary report offering confusing and discording truths about nutritional dos and don’ts,  often demanding our attention and consideration because out of medical or scholarly research. The media obsession with offering information at all costs, associated with a constant body-image pressure, can very easely add to the confusion. At times we might feel intimidated to even lift a fork.
What are we supposed to do when it comes to decide what we are going to eat?

 

 

One truth I learned is that we are all different, and one person food might as well be another person’s poison.

 

http://www.oprah.com/video_embed.html?article_id=28899

Courtesy of Harpo Productions


Michael Pollan in this interview with Oprah Winfrey explain his terms for eating meat. He is the author of ‘The Omnivorous Dilemma,’ where he asks the seemingly straightforward question of what we should have for dinner. Pollan has a simple advice when it comes to choosing what to eat. It is essentially simple and may represent the best way forward:

Eat food. Not too much. Mainly plants.

And I would add, always enjoy what you are eating. Even the most healthy and tasty food might turn toxic if consumed with the wrong state of mind.

 


A study In 1999, out of the University of Pennsylvania compared different attitudes among French and American about food and health, and their role in life. Generally, the group associating food mostly with health and the least with pleasure is the Americans, while the French are the group most food-pleasure-oriented and least food-health-oriented. Ironically, the Americans, who do the most to alter their diet in the service of health, are the least likely to classify themselves as healthy eaters. 

 

In conclusion, as the saying goes ‘we are what we eat’ but I have come to realize that this truth is only secondary, indeed corollary to the one that impacts our personal reality the most: first and foremost we are what we think.


 
 
 

References

(1)

Source: http://www.drdeborahmd.com/what-tmao-anyway

(2)

Winger, Jill (2014-05-26). Natural Homestead: 40+ Recipes for Natural Critters & Crops

 

 

This content is for informational purposes only, and is educational in nature. Statements made here have not been evaluated by the FDA.  This article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Please discuss with your own, qualified health care provider before adding in supplements or making any changes in your diet.

 

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