Tag Archives: crohn’s

Is Organically Grown, Grass-fed Meat Healthier?

So, you’re walking about in the grocery store, carrying on that inner dialog about what to purchase…when you notice the meat counter. You have a choice now: do you purchase the Angus ground beef, the grass fed beef, or the organically grown grass fed beef? The Angus is less expensive and its high saturated fat content means your grilled burgers will stay moist, but you’ve been wondering if there is any health benefit to the organically raised meat. Sound familiar? Today, I’m going to present a point of view based on the available facts that researchers have shown us, using concepts from my book The Symbiont Factor. And, I’ll try to make it as practical as possible!

A study was just published about the prevalence of the phylum Proteobacteria being a direct indicator of gut and general health. More Proteobacteria is a bad thing, in other words. Why is it bad? This phylum includes the notorious microbial outlaws Helicobacter (ulcers, anyone?), Vibrio, Salmonella, E. coli (all causing gastrointestinal distress) and Yersinia (plague…) How would you know your own levels of Proteobacteria? A simple uBiome test can provide a percentage measurement that correlates with the Shin study mentioned above. How would your Proteobacteria get elevated, you might ask? Well, two major factors that we are aware of: antibiotic exposure and high fat/sugar diet (aka “the Western Diet”, which is the laboratory standard for creating disease).

Going back to your choice of ground meat, some guidelines for a choice are now apparent. Grass-fed beef is much leaner, though this will also require a slightly different cooking method to have it palatable. It tends to have more flavor, which some people call “gamey-ness”, though from my point of view it is how beef should taste as cattle should eat grass and not grain. Wild meat such as venison has even more flavor. When accustomed to it, grain-fed beef is utterly bland. So, the reduction in fat content in the grass-fed beef is less likely to promote an overgrowth of Proteobacteria. Because of the effect of higher fat content, the choice for this reason would be grass-fed. In addition, the fatty acid profile of grass-fed beef promotes less inflammation, as the meat has a higher percentage of Omega-3 and DHA fats.

The second item to consider would be antibiotics. Meat that is not organic has antibiotic residues that, when consumed, exert an antibiotic effect on the human. Antibiotic exposure has been found to promote overgrowth of Proteobacteria, so this is bad! In addition, antibiotic exposure promotes the development of antibiotic resistant species, which is a further health risk. Overgrowth of Proteobacteria causes a suppression of beneficial bacteria as well, creating a disease-prone condition.

At this point the only remaining factor is cost. The healthier product costs more, though now even Hardee’s and Carl’s are advertising a grass-fed organic hamburger-an obvious example of the power that consumers wield. Don’t jump to conclusions, though, as prepared “the fast food way” it will likely still have a high enough fat and calorie content to make it a not-healthy choice. Still, it’s a step in the right direction and will be healthier than the regular burgers they serve!

The easiest way to balance the cost-vs.-health equation is to either buy a sufficiently smaller quantity of the grass-fed meat that your budget is unaffected, or view the extra cost as the cost of health and disease prevention. After all, the doctor bills that occur in later life certainly can outweigh the added cost of the healthier meat choice! The benefits in quality of life, however, are priceless.

References:

http://tinyurl.com/ntyt267

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26129950

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26210164

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24472126

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24018274

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26011307

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22863420

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25633846

http://www.takepart.com/article/2014/12/10/carls-jr-grass-fed-hamburgers

http://www.organicauthority.com/carls-jr-adds-grass-fed-burgers-to-its-menu/

http://www.hardees.com/

Natural Remedies for Pain vs. NSAIDS

One of the most common pain classes of pain relievers are NSAIDS. This stands for non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs and these are available over the counter (Ibuprofen, Motrin, Tylenol and aspirin are examples) and by prescription (Indocin, Mobic, Toradol and many others). It is estimated that up to 90 million prescriptions for NSAIDS are written in the US every year. This rate of prescribing is estimated to cause as many as 16,500 deaths per year and many more hospitalizations.

What is not discussed as often is the role of NSAIDS in damaging intestinal linings and gut bacterial populations. The damage causes enteropathy, or damage to the intestines. This damage results in altered/abnormal gut bacteria populations, a condition known as dysbiosis. Increased intestinal permeability also creates increased inflammation.

Abnormally increased inflammation is one of the things that causes pain! Isn’t that what NSAIDS are used to treat? It gets more interesting: Increased intestinal permeability is one of the underlying factors driving many conditions like Crohn’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis and Asthma. All three of these conditions are very serious and painful!

Inflammation is the common denominator in pain of most types. Gut bacteria play a huge role in the control of inflammation as the symbiont colony helps to manage the functions of the immune system. Anything that is damaging to the gut bacteria is likely to also increase inflammation and pain syndromes. It has been found that NSAIDS cause damage to gut bacterial colonies. It is even possible that the damage to the intestinal walls is in part due to dysbiosis triggered by the drugs!

Instead of taking NSAIDS and causing all of these problems, consider other more natural approaches to temporary pain relief. Some of these approaches and products have a great deal of research supporting their use. Probiotics would be one recommendation, for the reasons stated above: maintaining normal immune function goes a long way to inhibiting inflammatory pain pathways. A second complimentary product would be curcumin. This spice is possibly the most researched natural anti-inflammatory substance we know of today, and it does not cause the problems that NSAIDS cause.

A healthy lifestyle that includes reduced stress, probiotics, a prebiotic/gut bacteria-healthy diet and non-harmful anti-inflammatory supplements such as curcumin can go a long way to reducing chronic pain! More information about the relationship between symbiotic bacteria and pain reduction strategies will be found in The Symbiont Factor which is on track to be published in June 2014.

References:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24793420

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24690419

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12831509

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24532193