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Why You Should Eat Eggs (And A Broadside From Mainstream Media Against Misleading ‘Health’ Lobby)

Published on April 17, 2013,

Writing in the UK’s mainstream media (and on one of the world’s most visited websites), food journalist Joanna Blythman looks at recent research confirming that eggs are indeed very good for us and launches a fierce attack on the propaganda and misleading advice that the food and so-called health lobbies have spread for years. This is from the Daily Mail…

Soft Boiled Eggs (image courtesy of snapguide.com)

Soft Boiled Eggs (image courtesy of snapguide.com)

Another week, another humiliating blow for the healthy eating lobby. Yet again, their advice on nutrition, delivered in those familiar authoritative, disapproving tones, has proved to be completely misleading.

For years, these self-styled experts have warned us against eating too many eggs. Despite the fact our ancestors happily consumed this natural food for centuries, not so long ago the finger-wagging professionals suddenly decided that they were public enemy number one.

Eggs promoted heart attacks, clogged arteries, caused high blood pressure and weight gain, they declared, adding that we should eat a maximum of no more than two or three a week.

Now, though, it turns out that their advice is not only false, but even counter-productive. Just as these experts have been shown to be wrong about the dangers of red meat, cheese, milk and butter, so they have been hopelessly wrong about eggs.

Contrary to their grim admonitions, this week, scientists have declared that eggs are, in fact, a health food, packed with nutrients and proteins. The more eggs we eat, the healthier we should feel.

This new research has comprehensively demolished the claims that eggs are bad for the heart and the circulatory system. Just the opposite is true. Scientists at the Jilin University in China have found that one of the key components of egg whites can be just as powerful as specialised medication in reducing blood pressure.

This component is a peptide — one of the building blocks of protein — which appears to have the ability to inhibit the action of substances in the body that raise blood pressure.

‘Our research suggests that there may be another reason to call it the incredible, edible egg,’ said Dr Zhipeng Yu, the scientist in charge of this project.

His findings back up a recent study from the University of Alberta in Canada, which revealed that proteins in eggs can prevent the narrowing of blood vessels in the body, while researchers at the University of Missouri discovered that eggs are the best way to control appetite.

The article later adds…

The health promotion lobby has long maintained that eggs are dangerous because they contain cholesterol, and high levels of cholesterol in the blood are supposed to be damaging to the heart.

But this argument now seems as dodgy as the rest of the theories they have inflicted on us.

For cholesterol, far from being a threatening substance, is an enriching natural product, vital for the healthy functioning of our bodies. Cholesterol is essential for making hormones, building cell membranes and digesting fats; that is why it is found in large amounts in mothers’ breast milk.

And then a full broadside against the ‘health’ lobby…

The frankly unscientific campaign against eggs reflects the wider propaganda effort that constantly pumps out misleading information about what we should eat.

So we have been led to believe that we should cut down on meat and dairy produce at the same time as increasing our intake of carbohydrates. On the NHS’s [UK health authority] ‘Eatwell Plate’ — a plate which shows the proportions of food groups we should have and is a key tool of the food lobbyists’ campaigning — by far the largest portion is given over to ‘bread, rice, pasta and other starchy foods’.

Meanwhile, the portion on the Eatwell Plate given to ‘meat, fish, eggs and beans’ is less than half this size. Just as disturbingly, the Eatwell campaign also urges us to buy low-fat products, like skimmed milk, rather than more natural, full-fat ones.

Such advice could hardly be more wrong-headed. It is no wonder we are facing an obesity epidemic in this country. In their demonisation of meat and dairy products, along with their enthusiasm for carbohydrates and so-called ‘low-fat’ items, health campaigners are actually encouraging us to consume far more processed, unhealthy, high-sugar foods, with the disastrous consequences visible all around us.

Healthy eating is not complicated. The basic message is that natural foods, including free-range eggs, full-fat milk and organic meat, are good for us

More at:  Ignore the finger-waggers. You SHOULD go to work on an egg!

Round Up of Reaction to the Latest Red Meat Scare – Should Meat Eaters Be Worried?

Published on April 16, 2013,

There’s been another media deluge after a research study was published that suggests red meat can promote atherosclerosis (thickening of the arteries) and hence cause heart disease. After a quick look at a report of the study we give reflections on it from three leading bloggers and commentators…

Public domain photograph of various meats. (Be...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

First, from a BBC article on the study…

A chemical found in red meat helps explain why eating too much steak, mince and bacon is bad for the heart, say US scientists.

A study in the journal Nature Medicine showed that carnitine in red meat was broken down by bacteria in the gut.

This kicked off a chain of events that resulted in higher levels of cholesterol and an increased risk of heart disease…

“The cholesterol and saturated fat content of lean red meat is not that high, there’s something else contributing to increases in cardiovascular risk,” lead researcher Dr Stanley Hazen told the BBC.

Experiments on mice and people showed that bacteria in the gut could eat carnitine.

Carnitine was broken down into a gas, which was converted in the liver to a chemical called TMAO.

In the study, TMAO was strongly linked with the build-up of fatty deposits in blood vessels, which can lead to heart disease and death.

Dr Hazen, from the Cleveland Clinic, said TMAO was often ignored: “It may be a waste product but it is significantly influencing cholesterol metabolism and the net effect leads to an accumulation of cholesterol.

“The findings support the idea that less red meat is better”.

More at:  Red meat chemical ‘damages heart’, say US scientists

Now the thoughts of leading bloggers Tom Naughton, Paul Jaminet and Mark Sisson…

Tom Naughton at Fat Head believes it is another example of teleoanalysis…

As I explained in my Big Fat Fiasco speech, this technique is referred to asteleoanalysis. In a nutshell, it works like this: we can’t prove that A causes C, but if we can find evidence that A is linked to B and B is linked to C, we’ll go ahead and declare that A causes C.

Teleoanalysis is partly what has kept the Lipid Hypothesis alive. Studies have failed over and over to prove that a high-fat diet causes heart disease – and in fact, low-fat diets have failed to reduce heart disease in clinical trials over and over. So the anti-fat hysterics trotted out a version of teleoanalysis that looks like this:

  • High-fat diets (A) raise cholesterol (B)
  • Raised cholesterol (B) is associated with heart disease (C)
  • Therefore, a high-fat diet must cause heart disease

If this sounds logical to you, consider my own favorite version of teleoanalysis:

  • Drinking lots of water (A) causes frequent urination (B)
  • Frequent urination (B) is associated with diabetes (C)
  • Therefore, drinking lots of water causes diabetes

With that in mind, let’s take a look at yet another Meat Kills! study that’s making a splash in the media. Here are some quotes from a BBC article [above]:

A chemical found in red meat helps explain why eating too much steak, mince and bacon is bad for the heart, say US scientists.

A study in the journal Nature Medicine showed that carnitine in red meat was broken down by bacteria in the gut.

This kicked off a chain of events that resulted in higher levels of cholesterol and an increased risk of heart disease.

Can you spot the teleoanalysis? Here it is:

  • Red meat (A) contains carnitine, which when digested kicks off a chain of events leading to higher cholesterol (B)
  • Higher cholesterol (B) is associated with heart disease (C)
  • Therefore, red meat causes heart disease

More at:  Here We Go Again: Another Meat Kills! Study

Here are the concluding thoughts from Paul Jaminet at Perfect Health Diet…

The lessons of this study are:

  1. Don’t eat a high-sugar, high-flour, low-fiber diet.
  2. Do eat natural whole foods that have the kind of fiber we and our probiotic gut flora co-evolved eating; mainly, resistant starch from in-ground starches like potatoes and soluble fiber from fruits and vegetables.
  3. Don’t eat excessive amounts of meat. As we noted in the book, excess protein is available to gut bacteria for fermentation and that produces a number of toxic byproducts.
  4. Do eat PHD levels of meat – one-half to one pound per day. This level of meat consumption will provide healthful and nourishing amounts of protein, choline, and carnitine, and will not cause any harm if accompanied by PHD levels of healthy plant foods.

None of these lessons is new. This study doesn’t overturn any established dietary wisdom. It is just one more piece of data reminding us to eat a balanced diet consisting of the foods we evolved eating – plant as well as animal.

More at:  Lessons From The Latest Red Meat Scare

And with the final comments for now, here’s Mark Sisson from Mark’s Daily Apple…

Ultimately, this admittedly interesting research is all very preliminary. Rodents bred to be especially sensitive to cardiovascular disease (ApoE-knockouts) develop atherosclerosis at twice the normal rate when exposed to TMAO in the diet and/or serum. That’s all that they’ve established. Humans with the right (wrong?) gut flora composition also generate serum TMAO in response to dietary carnitine, but increased atherosclerosis has not been shown. And, contrary to their assumptions, a relationship between red meat (not processed meat) and cardiovascular disease has not been established in the literature. Quite the contrary: recent epidemiological evidence seems to exonerate the fresher, redder stuff.

If anything, this serves to underline (not undermine) the basic gist of the Primal eating philosophy. Eat a variety of foods. Don’t just eat steak. Eat fish, and eggs, and chicken liver, and pork chops. Don’t just eat meat. Eat vegetables. Eat probiotic-rich foods (probiotics have already been used to lower TMAO levels, while kimchi consumption was said to account for the inter-individual differences in TMAO production in another study). Eat prebiotic-rich foods, so as to provide food for your gut and diversify the population.

That last bit is key. We have to realize that it’s the gut flora modulating the effects of carnitine and TMAO – not the carnitine (or red meat) itself. It may be that we Primal eaters (as if you could categorize us so easily) have the absolute worst kind of gut flora, the kind that produces TMA by the truckload to be carted off to the liver for conversion into TMAO, and we’re about to start dropping off like flies. But I doubt it. I think the way we eat is more likely to diversify our guts and give us a floral profile associated with better health, rather than worse. But we’ll see. We still have a lot to learn about what lurks – and lives – inside us.

More at:  Does Red Meat Clog Your Arteries After All?

Mark Sisson’s Words of Wisdom on the latest Processed Meat and Mortality Study

Published on March 18, 2013,

The media has been full of reports of a study apparently suggesting processed meat is bad for us (but fresh red meat is good for us). As the dust starts to settle, here are some words or wisdom from Mark Sisson on what the study really shows (and what it doesn’t) and what we can learn in terms of our consumption of processed meat and our cooking of fresh meat. This is from Mark’s Daily Apple…

English: Two small cans of Spam. One is closed...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This was an observational study that only showed correlations. It did not establish causation.

Assuming the correlations indicated causation (which, you know, we have no way of knowing), fresh red meat has no effect on mortality. Processed meat does, but this effect is lessened when you account for the fact that processed meat eaters also lead generally unhealthy lifestyles bereft of exercise and produce and replete with smoking, overeating, and, for men, drinking. Even so, those adjustments were purely mathematical. Even the authors of the study “could not exclude residual confounding,” the general unhealthy lifestyle effect. You can’t quantify general unhealthiness, recklessness, psychological stress, and all the other factors that affect our health and mortality. They didn’t track things like checkups at the doctor, either.

All that said, this research isn’t saying anything we’re not already aware of.

Real red meat, fresh cuts of cow, pig, and lamb, are nutritious foods. There’s no evidence that they’re killing us en masse.

Don’t make processed meat your major source of animal products. Eat steak, not those weird processed meat sticks they sell at gas stations. I’ve said this before.

And yes, bacon is delicious, but it shouldn’t replace real, actual meat in your diet. A pound of bacon for breakfast is a fun thing to have when your vegetarian friends stay over, though – I’ll admit that.

Eat your produce, folks. It’s good for you, and it may even reduce the formation of carcinogenic compounds when co-ingested with meat (steak and salad, anyone?). That could explain the relative reduction in mortality among people who ate lots of fruits and vegetables with their processed meat.

Don’t overcook your meat. The authors speculate that high-heat processing and the subsequent formation of heterocyclic amines (HCA) could explain the association between processed meat and mortality. Other studies have certainly found a connection between high-heat cooking, HCA, and prostate cancer, so I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a mechanism there.

More at:  Dear Mark: Is Meat Going to Kill Me (Again)?

Here’s another interesting perspective from Zoe Harcombe: Meat consumption and mortality

And another from Dr Briffa: Why I’m not worried about the odd bit of bacon and occasional sausage in my diet

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