Our Better Health

Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


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Meat and Dairy Can Rapidly Alter Gut Bacteria and Cause Inflammation

Michelle Schoffro Cook     December 19, 2013

The adage “you are what you eat” might never have been truer. According to new research, your health may be determined by what you eat, and what microorganisms came along for the ride.
A new Harvard University study published in the journal Nature found that diet rapidly alters the microorganisms residing in the gut. And if what you ate was either meat or dairy, you might not be happy with their findings.  It has long been known that diet influences the type and activity of the trillions of microorganisms residing in the human gut, but Harvard scientists found that even what we eat in the short-term can have drastic effects on the type and numbers of microbes in our gut and their capacity to increase inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract (GI).
Researchers found that within two days of consuming an animal-based diet, microbes in the alistipes, bilophila, and bacteroides families increased.  Harvard scientists also discovered that microbes found in the food itself, including bacteria, fungi, and viruses, quickly colonized the gut.  And, perhaps most notably, they discovered that an animal-based diet caused the growth of microorganisms that are capable of triggering inflammatory bowel disease within only two days of eating these foods.  Earlier research showed that bilophilia overgrowth promotes inflammation.  Still further research has linked inflammation-causing microbes to serious chronic diseases, meaning that the Harvard study has potentially far-reaching implications for disease prevention and treatment.
The scientists put volunteers on a meat and cheese diet, then switched them to a fiber-rich, plant-based diet to track the effect on intestinal microbes.  They ate a breakfast of eggs and bacon, a lunch of ribs and briskets, and salami, prosciutto and assorted cheeses for dinner, along with pork rind snacks.  After a break from eating this diet the volunteers ate a plant-based diet of granola for breakfast, jasmine rice, cooked onions, tomatoes, squash, garlic, peas, and lentils for lunch and a similar dinner, with bananas and mangoes for snacks.
 
The scientists analyzed the volunteers’ microbes before, during, and after each meal.  The effects of the meat and cheese were immediate.  The abundance of bacteria shifted about a day after the food hit the gut. After three days on either diet, the bacteria in the gut changed their behavior.
Lead scientist Lawrence David, PhD admits that the meat and cheese diet was extreme; however, it seems to have painted a clear picture of the outcome of a diet heavy in meat and cheese—a typical diet for many people who use high protein diets to lose weight.  Dr. David said in an interview with NPR “I love meat … but I will say that I definitely feel a lot more guilty ordering a hamburger … since doing this work.”  He also indicates that the study unlocks a potentially new avenue for treating intestinal disease.  I would add that it likely unlocks ways to treat other inflammatory diseases in the body. Heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and even cancer have been linked to inflammation in the body.
You may want to rethink that bacon-wrapped sausage hors d’oeuvre or cheese platter during the holidays … or anytime.
source: Care2.com
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Over 650,000 Meals in Hospitals Will Now Be Served Without Antibiotic-Infested Meat Due to Super-Bugs

by Christina Sarich    June 8th, 2013Due to a precedent-setting move by the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) Medical Center and a recent almost-unanimous vote by the Academic Senate of the university, over 650,000 meals served to hospital patients each year will now be free of meat that has been treated with antibiotics.“There is overwhelming scientific consensus that overuse of antibiotics in livestock is a health hazard to people,” remarked Dr. Thomas Newman, a member of the Senate.

Livestock are often fed everything from penicillin to macrolide to ensure their health, but often to the detriment of the people who consume their meat. Ranchers and farmers discovered several decades ago that feeding their livestock just small doses of these antibiotics could fatten them up for market, and bring in larger profits. This practice isn’t often publicized, so many people are unaware of the practice. A doctor who has studied this subject Stuart B. Levy, M.D., estimates that there are 15-17 million pounds of antibiotics used sub-therapeutically in the United States each year.

meat

What happens when humans eat antibiotic-infused meat, is that certain bacteria in the animal becomes resistant to the antibiotic and grows stronger. We consume those unsavory bacteria and can become very ill, and then trying to treat us with antibiotics becomes impossible. This situation is much like the super-weeds that are growing due to the over-use of Monsanto’s GMO poison, Roundup, the good bacteria cannot over-run the bad. We then create super-bugs that are resistant to any type of treatment.

Opposing this argument is Dr. Margaret Mellon, with the Union of Concerned Scientists, ”There is no evidence that antibiotic resistance is not a problem, but there is insufficient evidence as to how big a problem it is.” If this were true, why did methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) get a foothold in the 1960s ? The overuse of antibiotics in general has already caused several cases of superbugs.

It is no surprise that hospitals are interested in changing their meat procurement practices, since the primary means of treating an ill person in the hospital is either through surgery or pharmaceutical drugs, but what does this issue of Super Bugs have in common with Super Weeds? It seems quite obvious that messing with Mother Nature results in some pretty fantastic tragedy for the human race.

source: naturalsociety.com


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Over 650,000 Meals in Hospitals Will Now Be Served Without Antibiotic-Infested Meat Due to Super-Bugs

by Christina Sarich    June 8th, 2013 

Due to a precedent-setting move by the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) Medical Center and a recent almost-unanimous vote by the Academic Senate of the university, over 650,000 meals served to hospital patients each year will now be free of meat that has been treated with antibiotics.

“There is overwhelming scientific consensus that overuse of antibiotics in livestock is a health hazard to people,” remarked Dr. Thomas Newman, a member of the Senate.

Livestock are often fed everything from penicillin to macrolide to ensure their health, but often to the detriment of the people who consume their meat. Ranchers and farmers discovered several decades ago that feeding their livestock just small doses of these antibiotics could fatten them up for market, and bring in larger profits. This practice isn’t often publicized, so many people are unaware of the practice. A doctor who has studied this subject Stuart B. Levy, M.D., estimates that there are 15-17 million pounds of antibiotics used sub-therapeutically in the United States each year.


What happens when humans eat antibiotic-infused meat, is that certain bacteria in the animal becomes resistant to the antibiotic and grows stronger. We consume those unsavory bacteria and can become very ill, and then trying to treat us with antibiotics becomes impossible. This situation is much like the super-weeds that are growing due to the over-use of Monsanto’s GMO poison, Roundup, the good bacteria cannot over-run the bad. We then create super-bugs that are resistant to any type of treatment.

Opposing this argument is Dr. Margaret Mellon, with the Union of Concerned Scientists, ”There is no evidence that antibiotic resistance is not a problem, but there is insufficient evidence as to how big a problem it is.” If this were true, why did methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) get a foothold in the 1960s ? The overuse of antibiotics in general has already caused several cases of superbugs.

It is no surprise that hospitals are interested in changing their meat procurement practices, since the primary means of treating an ill person in the hospital is either through surgery or pharmaceutical drugs, but what does this issue of Super Bugs have in common with Super Weeds? It seems quite obvious that messing with Mother Nature results in some pretty fantastic tragedy for the human race.


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Meet ‘Schmeat’: Lab-grown meat hits the grill this month

Backers hope event will boost funding to commercialize ‘schmeat’
CBC News    Posted: Jun 6, 2013 

A hamburger patty made from lab-grown meat — or “schmeat” — is expected to be unveiled and grilled later this month at an event in London that is highly anticipated by animal rights activists and other backers.

“The vision for this burger is really to attract support, to attract funding,” said social sciences researcher Neil Stephens in an interview with CBC’s The Current host Anna Maria Tremonti. “And I’m sure it will because it’s a very enticing idea for many people.”

Stephens, a professor at Cardiff University in Wales, has been studying the ethical and cultural issues around in vitro meat and has interviewed all the key scientific figures in the field.

‘In vitro meat provides a way for people to be able to eat ethically, while still kind of getting that meat fix.’—Lindsay Rajt, PETA


Among them is Mark Post, a physiologist at Maastricht University in the Netherlands, who grew the meat for the upcoming burger unveiling in his lab. The development of the 140-gram patty has taken two years and cost €250,000 ($338,000). Stephens said the funding needed to scale up the process to something commercially viable is one of the biggest obstacles right now on the journey of in vitro meat from the lab and the supermarket.

Conventional meat raises environmental, ethical concerns
Isha Datar is among those who hope the London burger event will lead to larger amounts of funding for the development of in vitro meat.

Datar is the executive director of New Harvest, a non-profit organization that raises awareness about alternatives to conventionally produced meat, and provides some funding and support to researchers in the field.

“Meat as we know it today is very environmentally unfriendly,” she told The Current.

Datar noted that a large proportion of agricultural land is used to grow feed for livestock rather than food for people. “In terms of food security, that’s not the greatest way to go.” She added that livestock are also breeding grounds for disease epidemics such as various influenza strains.

Among the supporters of in vitro meat is the group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which has just extended its deadline for a contest to produce in vitro chicken meat. Researchers now have until the end of the year to claim the $1-million prize for being the first to bring in vitro chicken meat to market.

Lindsay Rajt, PETA’s associate director of campaigns, said, “In vitro meat provides a way for people to be able to eat ethically, while still kind of getting that meat fix.”

 

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals hopes a commercial process for making in vitro chicken meat could potentially save billions of animals each year ‘from abuse on factory farms and ultimately slaughter.’


The cells needed to produce in vitro meat can be harvested without harming any animals, she said, and a commercial process for producing such meat could potentially save billions of animals each year “from abuse on factory farms and ultimately slaughter.”

At the moment, however, even Post is far from making that happen.

“This burger that’s going to be launched in London is really a proof of concept, which shows just … that something physically can be done,” said Datar.

So far, she said, Post has taken cells from the necks of cows and grown very tiny quantities in petri dishes, repeating the procedure “thousands of times” to generate enough for a hamburger patty.

A brew pub for meat?
Datar envisions a future where techniques for growing in vitro meat are so advanced that it “could happen in an appliance in our own home” or in a bioreactor at a restaurant.

“Perhaps … it’s something like a brew pub and they’re brewing an in-house meat,” she said. “And we perceive that as being artisanal and unique and exciting.”

Michael Noble, head chef and owner of Calgary’s Notable restaurant, has a different perception of in vitro meat.

“I don’t get it and it scares the heck out me,” said Noble, whose restaurant specializes in gourmet burgers and aged Alberta beef.

He’s also skeptical about how lab-grown meat would taste.

“There’s absolutely no way that you can recreate the flavour of what Mother Nature and the universe creates for us in the lab,” he told The Current. “There’s no way.”

Post admits that no one knows how the conditions of culturing the meat will affect the taste or even where the taste of meat comes from.

And even if it tastes like meat, that doesn’t necessarily mean the general public will view it as meat.

Stephens said that issue is fundamental to whether in vitro meat will be able to replace conventional meat, and isn’t something scientists have the power to define or control.

“It’s something that everyone else across the world, food companies and consumers, are involved in deciding.”

source: CBC


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Red and processed meats and cancer prevention

Eat less red meat (such as beef, pork and lamb) and avoid processed meat.

To reduce your cancer risk, eat no more than 500g (cooked weight) per week of red meat, like beef, pork and lamb, and avoid processed meats such as ham, bacon, salami, hot dogs and some sausages.

Cancer fact

10% of bowel cancers cases could be prevented through reducing the amount of processed meat we eat.

What is red meat?

Red meat refers to beef, pork, lamb and goat – foods like hamburgers, minced beef, pork chops and roast lamb.

As a rough guide 500g of cooked red meat is the same as 700 to 750g of raw red meat. To help visualise how much this is, a medium portion of roast beef or pork is about 90g and a medium steak is about 145g.

Although eating a lot of red meat is linked to bowel cancer, it is a good source of nutrients including protein, iron and zinc. The evidence shows that eating up to 500g (cooked weight) of red meat per week does not significantly raise cancer risk. Regularly eating more than this, however, does increase risk of bowel cancer.


What are processed meats

Processed meats are meats which have been preserved by smoking, curing or salting, or by the addition of preservatives. Examples include ham, bacon, pastrami and salami, as well as hot dogs and some sausages. Hamburgers and minced meats only count as processed meat if they have been preserved with salt or chemical additives.
 
Research has show that eating processed meat can increase cancer risk. If you eat meat, then it is best to choose unprocessed meat.
Related publications:

Red and Processed Meat: finding the balance for cancer prevention

Meat and cancer – the evidence

There is strong evidence that eating a lot of red meat is a cause of bowel cancer.
 
One possible reason for this is that the compound that gives red meat its colour, haem, may damage the lining of the bowel.
 
Studies also show that people who eat a lot of red meat tend to eat fewer plant-based foods, so they benefit less from their cancer-protective properties.
 
There is strong evidence that processed meats are a cause of bowel cancer.
 
When meat is preserved by smoking, curing or salting, or by the addition of preservatives, cancer-causing substances (carcinogens) can be formed. These substances can damage cells in the body, leading to the development of cancer.

Tips for eating less red meat and avoiding processed meat

  • Keep several meals a week red meat-free. Make every other evening meal meat-free. Try replacing minced red meat with minced Quorn or use lentils or beans instead.
  • Grilled fish and poultry make tasty alternatives to red meat.
  • Choose vegetables and wholegrains first. Try to avoid large portions of meat.
  • Try canned fish including sardines, salmon, tuna and mackerel. These are all great in sandwiches or pasta dishes.
  • Add beans or pulses such as kidney beans, chickpeas and lentils. Tasty alternatives in dishes such as chilli or bolognese, and they can even be made into burgers.
  • Don’t forget eggs, cottage cheese and hummus. These are all good sources of protein too.
  • Swap processed meats for healthier alternatives. Instead of bacon, chorizo or salami, try spicy chicken or vegetarian sausages.
If you want inspiration for meals that do not use a lot of red meat, 
then there are lots of ideas in our recipes section.
Read all our Recommendations for Cancer Prevention
 


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It’s Not Just the Fat: There’s Another Way Red Meat May Harm the Heart

By Alexandra Sifferlin   April 08, 2013

Eating Red, Processed Meat Raises Your Risk of Early Death

Saturated fat? Cholesterol? Sure, red meat has plenty of those, but it also contains a compound that toys with gut bacteria and can lead to clogged arteries.

When it comes to explaining exactly why steaks and hamburgers and other red meats can be so harmful to the heart, the saturated fat that the body breaks down and sequesters in blood vessel walls where they can form dangerous plaques is an easy and obvious culprit. But the high rates of heart disease in the developed world suggest that these fats may not be working alone, say a group of researchers from the Cleveland Clinic who study how microbes and bacteria in our gut influence heart disease.

Our gut is full of bacteria — good strains that don’t cause disease — and recent studies show that these microbes can have a significant impact on our health, affecting our propensity for obesity, asthma, inflammatory diseases and even cancer. Not surprisingly, what we eat can influence which populations of bacteria are more common at any given time, so the researchers of the new study, published in the journal Nature Medicine, focused on how these gut microbes responded to a diet that included meat. Specifically, they looked at a compound called carnitine, which is abundant in meats like beef, lamb, duck and pork, but is also a popular dietary supplement in energy drinks.

In previous work on mice, the scientists found that gut bacteria can transform choline, a vitamin-B-group nutrient, from the diet into a compound called trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO) that transports cholesterol to arteries where it forms potentially heart-stopping plaques. Carnitine, it turns out, is structurally similar to choline, so the researchers set out to document whether carnitine is metabolized by human gut bacteria in a similar way to gum up heart vessels and cause atherosclerosis.


To better understand the relationship between carnitine and TMAO, the researchers conducted a series of experiments with meat eaters and a vegan willing to consume meat for the sake of the study. In the first phase, they documented the boost in TMAO produced after the meat-eating volunteers ate an 8-oz. steak and downed a capsule that would attach to and label the carnitine for easy detection. Consuming high amounts of carnitine from the steak was only associated with a higher level of TMAO in the blood of the five meat eaters, however, and not in the vegan who hadn’t consumed meat in at least a year. That suggests that eating meat can promote larger numbers of bacteria that break down carnitine into TMAO, thus generating more heart-harming cholesterol and establishing a cycle of damage to the heart.

This was confirmed when the researchers then looked at the levels of TMAO and carnitine in the blood of 2,595 patients undergoing heart-disease evaluations who were either omnivores, vegans or vegetarians. Meat eaters tended to harbor higher levels of carnitine and had a higher risk of heart disease, stroke or heart attack compared with the vegans or vegetarians. The bacteria in the gut, then, are heavily influenced by long-term-diet patterns, adding another layer to the understanding of how food can affect our risk for developing certain diseases. “A diet high in carnitine actually shifts our gut microbe composition to those that like carnitine, making meat eaters even more susceptible to forming TMAO and its artery-clogging effects. Meanwhile, vegans and vegetarians have a significantly reduced capacity to synthesize TMAO from carnitine, which may explain the cardiovascular health benefits of these diets,” said study leader Dr. Stanley Hazen, of the Cleveland Clinic, in a statement.

In fact, when the meat eaters were given antibiotics for a week to cull some of the intestinal bacteria, levels of TMAO dropped significantly. That finding hints that it may be possible to control some of the heart-harming effects of red meat by suppressing certain populations of bacteria in the gut, although more studies need to be done to confirm exactly which bacterial populations are responsible for breaking down carnitine, and how direct the association between carnitine and TMAO is.

And then there are questions about carnitine supplements. Some energy drinks contain the compound, which is often added to rev up metabolism and increase energy, but if it also promotes the growth of bacteria that contribute to atherosclerosis, then people consuming energy drinks may not be aware that these products may be associated with an increased risk of heart disease.

The findings certainly set the stage for more detailed studies on how red meat may contribute to heart disease, but in the meantime, it’s probably not necessary to entirely cut out red meat from your diet. Hazen’s own strategy should serve as a model: once a meat eater who enjoyed about 12 oz. several times a week, he told the New York Times that he now limits himself to eating 4 to 6 oz. once every two weeks. Moderation, it seems, is the best approach until more information becomes available.

source: Time


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Too Much Processed Meat Linked to Shorter Lifespan

March 7, 2013    By Health Editor   Steven Reinberg   HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, March 6 (HealthDay News) — Grilled hot dogs and sausages may be tasty treats at ball games and picnics, but a new study of nearly 450,000 people finds that eating too much processed meat might shave years off your life.

Those who ate the most processed meat increased their risk of dying early by 44 percent. In broader terms, if people ate less processed meat, the number of premature deaths overall would drop by almost 3 percent, Swiss researchers reported.

“Our recommendation is to limit processed meat intake to less than an ounce a day,” said study author Sabine Rohrmann, head of the division of cancer epidemiology and prevention at the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine at the University of Zurich.

The researchers could only show an association between eating processed meat and an increased risk of dying early, and not a cause-and-effect link. There are, however, some reasons to believe the association may be real, the scientists said.

“We know of some potential mechanisms that probably all contribute,” Rohrmann said. “Meat is rich in cholesterol and saturated fat, which may be the link with coronary heart disease.”

Processed meat is also treated with nitrates to improve durability, color and taste. “However, it also causes the formation of carcinogens. These are linked to the risk of colorectal and stomach cancer,” Rohrmann said.

In addition, high iron intake from meat may lead to an increased risk for cancer, she said.

Another expert noted that previous research supports the link between processed meat and health problems.

“A wide array of studies have linked meat intake to higher rates of chronic disease,” said Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center in New Haven, Conn.

Eating relatively more meat likely means eating fewer plant foods, which protect against chronic disease, he said.


“The case for us eating mostly plants is strong,” Katz said. “But those inclined can eat meat without harming their health, provided they choose wisely and steer clear of bologna.”

For the study, which was published online March 6 in the journal BMC Medicine, Rohrmann and an international team of investigators collected data on nearly 450,000 men and women. At the start of the study, none of the participants had had cancer, a heart attack or stroke. The researchers also collected data on diet, smoking, exercise and weight.

By the middle of 2009, more than 26,000 of those in the study had died.

“Mortality is increased when we compare those participants who eat more than 40 grams per day of processed meat to those who have 10 to 20 grams per day,” Rohrmann said.

The higher the consumption, the higher the risk. “For the highest consumption group (those who consume at least 160 grams of processed meat per day) mortality was 44 percent higher compared with those who eat little meat (10 to 20 grams a day),” she said.

“Since meat is also rich in certain minerals and vitamins, we do not recommend not to eat meat anymore, but to reduce the intake of processed meats and to limit the intake of red meat to about 300 to 600 grams per week as recommended by other nutrition groups,” Rohrmann said.

In addition, eating a lot of processed meat went along with other unhealthy choices. Those who ate the most processed meat ate the fewest fruits and vegetables and were more likely to smoke. Also, men who ate a lot of meat tended to drink a lot, the researchers found.

One expert pointed out that it might be hard to change bad habits in the United States.

“A side of sausage, a BLT or a ham sandwich are the daily norm for many Americans,” said Samantha Heller, a clinical nutritionist at the NYU Center for Musculoskeletal Care, in New York City. “Limiting consumption of processed meat to less than an ounce a day, as the researchers of this study suggest, will be a difficult recommendation to put in place unless we can educate the public about the health concerns associated with eating processed meats regularly.”

Health professionals, educators and food companies need to make efforts to change the culture of food in the United States so that healthy, plant-based eating becomes the daily norm, Heller said.