Tag Archives: heart

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/

Prebiotic Aztec Warrior Coffee!

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Ok, so I still drink coffee, and from the statistics I’ve read, most of you readers probably drink coffee too! I decided to try to make the coffee as healthy as possible, stacking some other health benefits along with reduction of Parkinson’s probability/severity and making the world seem like a happier place. Coffee has also been found to inhibit some types of cancer. Cocoa also has cancer-preventive properties. Cayenne pepper reduces the effects of high cholesterol, helping prevent oxidative stress to heart cells. I’ve read that the Aztecs used coffee, and cocoa and of course cayenne pepper-so why not combine the three? I know I’m not the first to do this, but it certainly does have a particular taste and kick to it! Especially (espressoly?) when made with espresso.

Recently I have been reading quite a bit about Yacon syrup and its health benefits. It turns out that yacon, which is a South American root vegetable, is processed into a molasses-like syrup that is a natural sweetener. If that wasn’t good enough, most of the carbohydrates in the syrup are not digestible, so it is a low-calorie sweetener that isn’t poisonous like Splenda. Yacon is also a prebiotic, with fiber that some of our gut bacteria just love. The species that thrive on it include Bifido and Akkermansia. Why, you ask, is that significant? Bifido is a “colonizer” species that helps to heal gut wall damage, and Akkermansia makes us burn up fat faster-increasing lean mass and lowering BMI. Akkermansia is also helpful in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, diabetes and immune system regulation.

Since Yacon is also from the same continent (and possibly region) as the Aztecs were, I reasoned that it should be good in coffee! Now, to a double shot of espresso or a mug of normal coffee, I add a teaspoon of cocoa powder and a tablespoon of yacon syrup, and a couple of sprinkles of cayenne pepper. On occasion, I’ve also added half a teaspoon of powdered inulin (another beneficial prebiotic; this one is from Jerusalem Artichoke). The inulin seems to disappear and not add any particular flavor, but the yacon gives the coffee a slight sweetness and the molasses-like flavor complements the cocoa/coffee/cayenne trinity quite nicely! Some who have tried it say that it’s too strong a taste, while many have adopted it as a coffee drink. Our local coffee shop, the Jitterbug, will make an Aztec espresso if asked, though I have yet to introduce them to yacon as a sweetener.

So there you have it-a new coffee drink has been invented and it has some powerful health benefits!

References:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24525422

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25535729

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25500898

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25027235

http://pamw.pl/sites/default/files/PAMW%202014_12_Albini.pdf

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25575980

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25545102

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25372730

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25118238

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24966608

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24857830

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24833634