Meat, Refined Grains and Inflammation
Inflammation is a key ingredient to healing. When the body is wounded, the immune system launches an immediate defense of over 20 different proteins to battle invading bacteria. While temporary inflammation is needed by the body, chronic inflammation is another story.
Many scientists now believe that chronic inflammation is a common stimulus for many diseases, including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease and multiple sclerosis, to name a few.
The good news is that studies show chronic inflammation can be modified with healthy lifestyle choices including the foods we eat.To lessen inflammation in the body, individuals can integrate more anti-inflammatory foods into the diet and reduce foods that are known to cause inflammation.
Red Meat, Feedlot Meat and Processed Meat
A study from the UC School of Medicine in San Diego found that red meat contains a molecule not produced by humans called Neu5Gc. Ingestion of this molecule produces anti-Neu5Gc antibodies, which can trigger inflammation in the body.
Cattle that come from commercial feedlots are fed with grains like corn and soybeans. These grains are high in omega-6 fatty acids, which are inflammatory, and low in omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce inflammation.
Due to a tight living space and limited movement, these fattened animals also produce meats that are high in unhealthy saturated fats. Because the packed and unhealthy environment boosts chances for disease, the animals are also injected with antibiotics. Unless otherwise shown on the label, most beef from supermarkets and restaurants comes from feedlot farms.
Any meat that has been chemically preserved, cured, salted or smoked is "processed meat." Products can include lunchmeats, hot dogs, salami, and jerky, to name a few. A 2007 report published by the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research suggested that processed meat is a possible cause of cancers of the colon, rectum, esophagus and lungs.
Refined grains are those that have been polished, removing the bran, germ and the aleurone layer. This process strips the fiber and many other nutrients from the grain and boosts the glycemic index of refined-grain products. A higher glycemic index can trigger inflammation in the body.
Products made from refined grains include bread, bagels, muffins, pasta, pastries, and white rice. Many of these products are processed further with the addition of salt, sugar, artificial ingredients and partially hydrogenated oil all of which are inflammatory.
A recent study published in the European Journal of Nutrition examined whether the consumption of red meat or whole-grain bread was related to an increase in biomarkers for inflammation and other health issues.
The researchers examined a group of 2,198 men and women who had already participated in a study investigating diabetes and cardiovascular disease.Blood tests, body size, diet and lifestyle data were evaluated.The researchers concluded that higher consumption of red meat resulted in higher levels of biomarkers for inflammation, while high consumption of whole-grain bread was associated with lower biomarkers for inflammation.
Tips for individuals looking to reduce or avoid chronic inflammation:
- Reduce consumption of red meat, and choose lean cuts.
- Purchase organic, free-range, grass fed beef. These products are higher in healthy fats and lower in unhealthy saturated fats.
- Use moist-heat methods like stewing for cooking beef more often than drying methods like grilling and frying.
- Purchase grain products that are minimally processed. Make sure the label says "100 percent whole grain" for the healthiest option.When in doubt about the nutritional value, read the ingredients on the package.
It's also important to make sure you're getting enough fruits and vegetables in your diet as they provide essential vitamins and nutrients that you can't get from meat and bread. They also help to reduce inflammation in the body and studies have shown that people who eat a primarily plant-based diet may have reduced risk for all kinds of illnesses and diseases.
If you struggle to get enough fresh greens and fruit in your diet, you can try taking a green supplement to help ensure you're getting all your daily vitamins and minerals. A green supplement that comes in powder form and can be easily added to any type of green drink or smoothie to boost nutritional content.
To maintain a healthy lifestyle and reduce chronic inflammation which can lead to illness and disease, make sure you eat grass-fed beef, reduce your consumption of red meat, and purchase minimally processed grains. Finally, eat your veggies and take a green supplement daily, and you'll be well on your way to excellent health.