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Dead Meat Bacteria Endotoxemia

The high bacteria load in raw or cooked animal foods and fermented foods may trigger an endotoxemic surge of inflammation that may be exacerbated by the presence of saturated animal fat.

July 6, 2012 |
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Acknowledgements

Image thanks to European Bioinformatics Institute and Mikael Häggström via Wikimedia Commons.

Transcript

These findings of inflammatory compounds in animal foods and fermented foods "therefore suggest that apparently unspoiled foodstuffs may nevertheless contain at some point in their preparation or processing a sufficient microbial load to release endotoxin receptor stimulants into their growth environment.
 This notion is supported by many previous studies showing that certain commonly consumed foodstuffs can contain a high bacterial load before cooking, such as fresh hamburger which has often been shown to contain approximately a hundred million bacteria per quarter pounder.”
“Notably, however, the purpose of the present study was not to examine the microbial quality of each foodstuff, since "pathogen associated molecular pattern" biological activity is retained independently of bacterial viability or cooking.”--Meaning the bacteria can be dead, the bacteria can be cooked, but their endotoxins are still there. You can boil meat for two hours straight, dip it in an acid bath… ( like our stomach) and expose it to digestive enzymes. Bacterial endotoxins were found to survive both cooking, and our bodies’ best attempts at acid and enzyme digestion.
 This let them to speculate that “the occasional ingestion of meals high in bacterial endotoxins could promote transient, mild, systemic inflammatory episodes that predispose subjects to the development of atherosclerosis and insulin resistance, which can lead to diabetes."
The animal fat may play a profound role in the pathogenesis of this after-meal inflammation by increasing the absorption of the endotoxins, since endotoxin has a strong affinity for the saturated fat transport system through the gut wall and into the blood strea. So animal fat may play a role in boosting endotoxin absorption, but the primary reason all those studies show increased inflammation from animal foods, but not most plant foods, may be the load of dead bacteria, which rlease endotoxins that are absorbed into our system leading to the endotoxemic inflammation we see after meat, egg, and dairy consumption.
So now that we know what's going on, what do we do. (from a 2012 follow-up) Well, the most obvious solution to this metabolic endotoxemia appears to be to reduce saturated fat intake—which in the U.S. is mostly from cheese and chicken—but, the researchers fear, the Western diet is not conducive to this mode of action; it's difficult for patients to comply with this request.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Serena

To help out on the site please email volunteer@nutritionfacts.org

Dr. Michael Greger

Doctor's Note

This is the final video of a three-part series exploring the mechanism behind the spike of inflammation that follows within hours of a meal containing animal products. See The Leaky Gut Theory of Why Animal Products Cause Inflammation and The Exogenous Endotoxin Theory for parts one and two. Though this surge of inflammation can result from bacteria dead or alive, live bacteria can cause other problems—see, for example, MRSA in U.S. Retail Meat, Total Recall, Chicken Out of UTIs, and Toxic Megacolon Superbug. Saturated fat also appears to have other deleterious effects such as increasing the risk of heart disease (Blocking the First Step of Heart Disease) and shortening the lives of breast cancer survivors (Breast Cancer Survival, Butterfat, and Chicken). For more on the patronizing attitude that people can't handle dietary truths, check out my 13-part series on the dietary guidelines from last October that began with Dietary Guidelines: Corporate Guidance. That's just one of many video series. There are hundreds of other videos on more than a thousand topics for you to browse.

For more context, check out my associated blog posts: How Does Meat Cause Inflammation?The True Shelf Life of Cooking Oils, Top 10 Most Popular Videos of the Year, Biblical Daniel Fast TestedLead Poisoning Risk From VenisonPlant-Based Diets for Rheumatoid Arthritis, and Should We Avoid Titanium Dioxide?

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    This is the final video of a three-part series exploring the mechanism behind the spike of inflammation that follows within hours of a meal containing animal products. See The Leaky Gut Theory of Why Animal Products Cause Inflammation and The Exogenous Endotoxin Theory for parts one and two. Though this surge of inflammation can result from bacteria dead or alive, live bacteria can cause other problems—see, for example, MRSA in U.S. Retail Meat, Total Recall, Chicken Out of UTIs, and Toxic Megacolon Superbug. Saturated fat also appears to have other deleterious effects such as increasing the risk of heart disease (Blocking the First Step of Heart Disease) and shortening the lives of breast cancer survivors (Breast Cancer Survival, Butterfat, and Chicken). For more on the patronizing attitude that people can’t handle dietary truths, check out my 13-part series on the dietary guidelines from last October that began with Dietary Guidelines: Corporate Guidance. That’s just one of many video series. There are hundreds of other videos on more than a thousand topics for you to browse.

    • Kahn642

      Great video. What is the reference citing TLR2 and TLR4?

    • HemoDynamic, M.D.

      Reminds me of George Orwells Animal Farm.  Not that it is on the same premise but ‘Animalism’ has it’s way of getting back at humanism. 

      It’s as if they figured out that if they make themselves toxic and when we eat them, their flesh will cause our bodies to slowly attack and destroy ourselves, leading to a slow, painful, expensive demise.  Ingenious!

      Animalism has led to Carnism which leads to Deathism.

      Our physiologic knowledge is outstanding compared as to where it once was; eventhough it has a long way to go it is truly fascinating to understand these mechanisms of injury and disease.  Thank you Dr. G!

      I vote for Plantism leading to Healthism!

    • Stefan Juhl M.D.

      Lets face it – animal products is not for human consumption. RAW, boiled, fried, nuked – it will kill you!

      Wonder what the solution is – plants?

      • Stefan Juhl M.D.

        Aaaaaaarrrrgggghhh – still problems with creating my avatar – cant be because animalproducts is rotting my brain……..

    • Stefan Juhl M.D.

      Now we cant even cook the crap out of meat – is it time for warning signs on the hamburger and packages of meat as with cigarettes? Warning: May contain feces. May contain lethal bacteria. May contain Mad Cow disease (only a little risk though). Risk of endotoxemia – and some nasty pictures!

    • beccadoggie10

      Does inflammation take place in animal products rather than plant foods because the majority of the pollutants causing real harm are fat soluble and plant foods are closer to the base of the food chain?

      With my fractured spine, pain screams at me if I eat wheat, but even more if I consume anything with dairy or any meat including fish. Before I was injured I was not noticeably allergic to most foods. But now, it’s a whole new ball game. It is easy to stay clean with vegan when pain and inflammation blows up with the alternative life cycle.

      • Toxins

        There is no reason to avoid gluten unless one has an allergy or has a true sensitivity. http://nutritionfacts.org/video/is-gluten-bad-for-you/ http://nutritionfacts.org/video/update-on-gluten/ Gluten in itself, and whole wheat foods are perfectly healthy and nutritious. In regards to inflammation, it is the result of endotoxins from the bacteria that has colonized the meat, as opposed to the contaminants themselves. Endotoxins cause an inflammatory response in humans.

        • Joe

          I think what beccadoggie was saying was that there is a reason for avoiding wheat, and thats the terrible pain after eating it.

          Its interesting that wheat, meat and dairy cause this response.

          beccadoggie – I hope you get well soon.

  • Doug Zimmerman

    Unable to watch — “This video is private.”

  • Ann

    I’m having the same issue… “This video is private.”

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    Video has been fixed! Thank you!

  • Harrisdc

    That was awesome
    Makes me wonder ,Highest risk factor for atherosclerosis is high cholesterol. ie.saturated fat  which also promotes endotoxin absorption=inflammation promoting heart disease.(and many other aflictions)
    North American  diet- such a  perfect breeding ground for cancer and heart disease.

    Dr Stephen Harris

  • Dssikes

    This makes me wonder if eating 1-2 Tablespoons of cocoa powder a day in my coffee is nutritionally wise? Obviously the flavenols are beneficial and outweigh the endotoxin costs, but if one is getting lots of phytonutrients otherwise might those extras from cocoa be ‘surplus’? Would you recommend reducing cocoa consumption?

  • JB

    How do the amounts of endotoxins in organic meats compare to the results you shared?

    • Stefan Juhl M.D.

      From a health perspective I think organic is as bad as conventional

  • AlexanderBerenyi

     Interesting.

    I wonder how does this relate to cultured foods with bacteria (e.g. yogurt, kefir, etc.– dairy or otherwise) and probiotics, which have been shown to be so beneficial for a healthy digestive system. Does this microbial load by its very nature cause some sort of inflammation? or is it exempt from the rule?

    • Coacervate

      The bacteria in the foods you mention, the gram positive bacteria, do not contain endotoxins.  they do well in aerated media and are “food-grade”.   the baddies are gram negatives that putrify meat, like to grow in anaerobic conditions found inside mince and present endotoxins.  We shouldn’t be too skeptical…think Botulism.

      This is a facinating line of research…I would say to critics (not you Alexander) that
      1.  Nutrition facts is a resource that you might like to support with more facts and …
      2.  All studies are flawed, some studies are useful.  These are useful

      these continuing investigations are forming a body of work that portends real hope for a lot of people (and the critters they process for food).  Thanks for this fantastic resource…this is like journal club only Dr. G does the hard part!  I can’t wait for the next installment.

      • Steven Gold

        What about fish? Do fish contain bacterial endotoxins?

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/KUSZH4JCJXBWTORBG5T2XTQ5RI Massimo

    What about saturated plant fats, such as those in tropical fats (palm, palm kernel, coconut)? Often the advocates of a plant-based diet (to which I do belong, being a long-term vegan) overlook the widespread presence of these fats – they are present in virtually every processed food. This overlook is, to me, a serious problem in addressing diet-related issues.

    • Stefan Juhl M.D.

      Hi Massimo. If you really want to eat healthy it is not enough to be vegan (a diet of cola, chips, white bread and beer is vegan). I think you have to avoid processed food entirely – the best advice is therefore whole food, plantbased (and no processed food) diet.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/KUSZH4JCJXBWTORBG5T2XTQ5RI Massimo

        Hi Stefan,
        that is exactly my point. I consume only whole foods, practically nothing processed, and mostly organic. My question was about whether saturated fats from plant (tropical oils) do have a similar effect as those from animals, which I suspect being the case.

        • HemoDynamic, M.D.

          Massimo,
           
          Check out Dr. G’s Vid on Coconut oil and read all the commentaries that follow.
           
          http://nutritionfacts.org/video/is-coconut-oil-good-for-you/

          • Stefan Juhl M.D.

            Hemo,
            I`m desperate – do we agree that wine is vegan, minimal processed, at least not harmfull in moderate amounts?

            Well off to the neighbours! (its 5 o`clock in Denmark)

            ;-)

          • Stefan Juhl M.D.

            p.m. !!!

          • HemoDynamic, M.D.

            Yes, Red wine has lots of phytonutrients.  I have been in Cardiology for twenty years now and have seen multiple studies showing that up to two ounces of hard alcohol, 2 beers, 2 glasses of wine (any kind) is beneficial for our hearts and even reduces all cause mortality (ACM).  The ACM my have confounding variables because people that are that disciplined usually are healthier in general.
            The old saying in Cardiology is “Alcoholics don’t die of Heart Attacks”. . .they die of cardiomyopathies and liver failure.

            Enjoy!

            I was in Denmark in the Summer of 1984.  An absolutely beautiful place in the Summer.

          • GSH

            The added sulfites in wine can be problematic for some.

          • HemoDynamic, M.D.

            Ahhh, ask and you shall receive.  See the pic below.

          • HemoDynamic, M.D.

            This thread will not let me post images when it is too small in width. The Image Icon gets squeezed out. I will post the image at the top GSH

          • stefanjuhl

            Denmark is great, some problems though; I think most danes think that a vegan is something from Star Trek

          • HemoDynamic, M.D.

            When I was there I remember the food:  Breakfast was a soft boiled egg that we used the egg stands and cracked the shell with a spoon and scooped out the cooked white and warm creamy yolk, and Hearty Pumpernickel bread with fresh butter.  Lunch was bread with cheese and tomatoes, beer and wine.  Dinner: lots of potatoes with butter, some veggies and eel for the meat.  To drink, of course beer and wine and usually some Johnny Walker Scotch.  Port for dessert. 

            Clearly I wasn’t vegan back then.  I didn’t even know there were such weirdo’s ;-{}

          • Stefan Juhl M.D.

            Bottoms up !

          • GSH

            Now wait…..wasn’t you who told me not to worry about what other people think?

          • SJ M.D.

            Hi GSH,
            My point was to illustrate peoples lack of knowledge. Still dont care what the think (or say).

    • http://www.DonForresterMD.com/ Don Forrester MD

      The saturated fats a family that varies a bit depending on the number of carbon atoms typically either 5,12, 14, 16 or 18. The body handles these similarly although studies suggest some differences. What is clear that they are all calorically dense foods which contribute to obesity. We don’t “need” them… we need to consume omega3 and omega6 unsaturated fatty acids. Also saturated fats often travel with other natural (such as cholesterol and animal protein) see…http://nutritionfacts.org/video/plant-protein-preferable/ and unnatural compounds( pcbs, endocrine disrupters, pesticides) see… http://nutritionfacts.org/video/dioxins-in-the-food-supply/ which cause other problems and are associated with food borne illnesses. I would recommend applying the precautionary principle and avoiding. Eating whole foods and avoiding foods with labels avoids many problems. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/diane.krstulovich Diane Krstulovich

    G-R-O-S-S!  So there’s something toxic about it just because it’s dead?  Duh…

  • stefanjuhl

    avatar problems

    • HemoDynamic, M.D.

      Avatar is working!!

      • Stefan Juhl M.D.

        Hemo – do you by any change live in San Diego, CA?

        • HemoDynamic

          I grew up there. Lived there for 25 years, now I’m in northern cal. I love Cali but few places left to enjoy the state pollution free ( well nearly).

          • GSH

            Not true Hemo. I live in Southern California, blocks from the beach and it is beautiful. Water is actually cleaner now then when I was a kid. Maybe I should get a job on the tourist board! :-) 

  • HemoDynamic, M.D.

    GSH Here’s the pic Sulfite free!  And remember there is purple beer too!

    • GSH

      ok Hemo you got me. What is that? I love a good glass of wine but sometimes I feel crapy even with a small amount. Pretty sure the sulfites. If I get organic with no added sulfites no problem but as of yet those wines don’t compare in taste. So martinis are nice!!!! 

    • GSH

      OK i got it. No, doesn’t even compare to a nice bottle with dreaded sulfites. 

  • Harel B

    Ok, so another set of studies pointing away from  animal consumption. But for those of us who are vegan, and who like myself know to minimize “tropical oils” (Massimo’s comment) what other plant foods are the no-no’s (or maybe-no-no’s or, “in small amounts only”)? Can we have a list? Top 5 to avoid/minimize? Fermented tofu? Others?.I only see “Orange Juice” in the video too quick (without pause) to see what that study was saying.. A top 5 or top 10 to avoid would be great..

    (Strange, it let me log in as “harelb” using my  existing email/password…now it want me to “post as” (while already logged in…it says “Harelb” in the top right of the web page) with another login within a login? Also I get from firefox on ubuntu, a script hanging and hanging on  this page in general..until a dialog box asks if I want to stop the script..this happens to me for about 2% of web pages on the net, not the vast majority) Let’s try again as “guest”

  • Walter Schneider

    You refer to fermented food also; this should apply to the japanese food “natto” as well although it’s considered as very healthy…can you clarify this point? Much appreciated. Thank you.

  • Veguyan

    Once again, I pose the question on this site of vegan doctors and vegan eaters, like myself:

    Since we are designed to eat a vegan diet, how to explain the FACT that many people, after two, five, ten, fifteen years of detoxing, do not do well on a vegan diet. Is it purely psychological and all in their heads?

    There are many vegans where I live and also many people who have wanted to be vegan and have tried very hard, they say, and did everything right, they say. So why cannot some–many–people thrive on the vegan diet?

    Sorry to bore you, but as I wish to create and live in a vegan, compassionate world, I need an answer to this question and I will not stop until I have it.

    • HarelB

       You ask a very reasonable (not to mention, one with as you sate them, very admirable intentions) Vegayan…and I would love to know the answer too..but feel a note of caution is in order – you speak of people not doing well on “a vegan diet” – as you’re aware, there are many bad diets that are vegan, like (to deliberately exaggerate) as “iceberg lettuce, white bread, sugar, and greasy fried veggies”

      Now you say ” they say, and did everything right”..fair enough, but your phrase “they say” does say it all doesn’t it? I think what you’re really calling for (or what you’re asking for really calls for) is a study or several studies. That costs money. But say, take 10,000 vegans today and follow their diet, genetics, lifestyle choices (including people they hang out with, how much brainwashing, I mean, TV, they watch), stress levels etc) along with details about what they actually eat…and following them going forward for many years…see not only how all the vegans or originally-were-vegans do healthwise, but also track how many ‘drop out’ and maybe find out that with nutritional counseling along the way far fewer do and those who do, follow up and look at their (reported) health problems, and look at their choices for which vegan foods they ate/eat.

    • GSH

      Hi Veguyan,
      So I’ll ask. What makes you think they do not do well on a vegan diet? You have that many subjects to believe that?

      So I was vegan for about 3 years prior as a teenager early 20′s. I stopped not because I didn’t feel well but because I was over my obsessiveness about eating meat. Now I am doing it for health reasons, run 35 miles per week and haven’t noticed anything negative. I also think it is really important to eat real foods. I don’t eat anything processed. Because I run my main concern is getting enough calories so I don’t get too lean. Nuts help with that.

      Also Toxic really doesn’t like coconut but I think it’s the best sports drink out there. I don’t know what else to drink on a run that lasts 1.5 hours. Gatorade is so full of junk.

      So let’s see what the doctors think!

      • Toxins

         I actually do not have too much issue with coconut water, it is only when one adds sodium to it, enjoy!

  • Mary Bowen

    I suffer from being anemic….any good information on low iron count?  

    • Toxins

       Try to consume lots of dark green leefies as well as whole grains. When you consume whole grains, eat something high in vitamin c with it or after, like broccoli, an orange or red bell pepper. You can also eat garlic and onions to increase absorption of this nutrient. Check out the details here.
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20597543
      http://nutritionfacts.org/video/are-iron-pills-good-for-you/

    • Sally Dykhuis

      Consider taking a couple capsules of coryceps mushrooms daily.  I’m not a doctor, so do your own research.  But this mushroom generated a spike in my iron count.

  • Kathi Richards

    I have to say that I can barely understand all the medical terms! Thank you so much Dr Greger for translating it for us lay people. Fascinating stuff. Off to share with the masses.

  • Dssikes

    I’m still wondering about the cocoa – maybe the tests were done with chocolate which has a lot of saturated fat making it much worse than plain powdered cocoa? Anyone care to comment on the question of whether cocoa remains a good addition to one’s diet?

  • Sally Dykhuis

    I just learned that people who are sulfite sensitive may be lacking in molybdenum.  I just bought a mineral supplement with it and hope it relieves the hives and other more hidden problems that come from sulfite sensitivity.

  • csgcraigs

    Before I ask, please know that I do not desire to eat chicken. My question is, if one were to chop the head off a chicken and immediately prepare and eat the chicken, would that change the bacteria toxin load in the meat? I imagine it would because it wouldn’t have been raised in a horrible environment, butchered in a factory, packaged, trucked, left on the shelf at the store, put in a cart, waited in line, carried home (possibly in the heat of summer), stuck in the fridge, and finally cooked.

    • http://www.DonForresterMD.com/ Don Forrester MD

      You would certainly lower the risk of ingesting contamination compared to the typical food processing of meat. However it is still an animal and has an intestine with bacteria. Even avoiding the problems associated with the preparation which are significant see… http://nutritionfacts.org/video/fecal-contamination-of-sushi/ you are still faced with other dilemna’s associated with where it was raised, ?in a concentrated animal feed operations, what was in the food it consumed, etc.. Even if you could avoid the contamination of bacteria and chemicals you would still be faced with saturated fat and cholesterol intake. Since there is no advantage to eating chicken… unless faced with starvation I can’t recommend consuming it from a human’s perspective… of course the chicken’s side of the argument and the environmental and social justice side of the argument are pretty well settled as well. See Philip Wollen’s short video… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQCe4qEexjc&feature=youtu.be and Melanie Joy’s video on Carnism… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7vWbV9FPo_Q.

  • http://www.facebook.com/darryl.roy.752 Darryl Roy

    From January 2013, I think this is the first study to definitively finger saturated fat in facilitating endotoxin transport through the gut wall:

    http://www.nutritionandmetabolism.com/content/10/1/6/

  • Melissa

    Are these exogenous endotoxins as present in grass-fed meats?

    • Toxins

      As all meat is colonized by bacteria, then yes it would be. Endotoxins are inherent of meat as are elevated levels of IGF-1.

  • Movies989

    “It’s difficult for patients to comply with this
    request!” Of course it is, when everyone’s being taught that they need
    animal protein. One of my coworkers used
    a website that told him that he needed 100 grams of protein a day to go along
    with his muscle building. So he had
    extra sardine cans in his cubical to try to make the 100 grams. My response, “Nod and Smile.” I looked up nutritional information of
    walnuts after seeing one of the videos here, and they are teaching people that
    it’s a moderate inflammatory, with high fat, and high calories. The general public isn’t getting this
    fantastic information. I’ve been adding
    beets and English walnuts to my diet because of how awesome this site is! I’ve also given up soda due to this site, and
    if the studies are true about the cream dilating the blood vessels then I’m
    going to give up milk chocolate and candy all together. I had no idea, the drastic effects it has
    within such a short amount of time after eating them. Thank you so much for all of your team’s hard
    work in putting this site together.

  • Heych

    A very interesting set of videos. thank you!
    My only queries are:
    -what about our grandparents who ate animal fat everyday and lived well into their 90′s without any auto immune conditions
    -does this mean all fermented food duch as tempeh and soy sauce cause the same effect?

  • http://www.eatandbeatcancer.com/ Harriet Sugar Miller

    So the endotoxins are in the flesh, the blood and the fat?

  • Jesse

    I am wondering if the endotoxins would survive in an alkaline environment. The study demonstrates that they are resistant to low pH, but how do you think they would react to a high pH?

  • Linda

    Has anyone read the PubMed summary article, “Beef fat prevents alcoholic liver disease in the rat”? http//www.ncbi.nim.nih.gov/pubmed/2646971
    The postulation is that there is correlation(causation) between the amount of linoleic acid and the promotion of liver inflammation and disease. Beef tallow was found to be protective while corn oil apparent promoted a disease condition. Lard also promoted inflammation, but less than corn oil.

    I’m trying to put this together with the leaky gut theory. I’m sure alcohol doesn’t help a leaky gut, but if one chooses to meat if it’s the unsaturated fats which are contributing to the endotoxin transport to the liver and not the saturated fat that comes “packaged” with the meat. The animal products contain endotoxins but perhaps they would not reach the blood stream with being transported by unsaturated fat.

    Clearly, the safest way to eat, would be avoid endotoxins in meat etc. ,but maybe it if the toxins didn’t hitch a ride to the liver all would be better, if not well.

  • Linda

    Well I just reread my own post and I hope others can fill in the obvious blanks i.e. the skipped words and misspellings. I thought I was quite careful….but….