Transcript: Phosphate Additives in Meat Purge and Cola
In my video, Treating Kidney Failure Through Diet, I profiled research suggesting the use of a vegan diet for patients with kidney failure, because control of dietary phosphorus intake is the lynchpin in the successful control of a leading cause of disease and death in kidney failure patients, too much phosphorous in the blood.
But now we're beginning to realize that absorbing too much phosphorus isn't good for anyone. Having high levels in our blood has been found to be an independent predictor of heart attacks and mortality in the general population, increasing the risk of not only kidney failure, but heart failure, heart attacks, coronary death and overall death. Higher phosphate levels associated with a significantly shorter lifespan. Dietary intake of phosphate is an important matter not just for persons with kidney disease, but also for everybody. It's thought to cause damage to blood vessels and accelerate the aging process, and even potentially hurt our bones, by contributing to osteoporosis by disrupting hormonal regulation. The estimated average requirement of phosphorus is less than 600 a day, but the estimated average intake is nearly twice that in the United States. How do we stay away from the stuff?
If you look at nutrient tables, it looks like many plant foods have as much phosphorous as many animal foods, so why are plant-based diets so effective in treating kidney failure patients? Because most of the phosphorus in plant foods is found in the form of phytic acid, which we can't digest, so the bioavailability of plant phosphates is usually less than 50%. See only a third to a half of plant phosphorus may be absorbable, whereas most animal products are up around 75%.
So when you adjust for how much actually gets into our system, you see plant foods are better. It's like the absorption of heme and non-heme iron, your body can protect itself from absorbing too much plant-based iron, but can't stop excess blood-based, or heme iron from animals slipping through the intestinal wall.
The worst kind of phosphorus, that’s absorbed nearly 100%, are phosphate additives added, for example, to cola drinks. Why would they do that? Cola drinks would otherwise be black. Without the added phosphate, there would be so many glycotoxins produced that the beverage would turn pitch black. Thus, cola drinks owe their brown color to phosphate.
Phosphate additives play an especially important role in the meat industry, where they are used as preservatives, for the same reason, to enhance a meat product’s color. Just like the dairy industry adds aluminum to cheese, meat and poultry is "enhanced" by injecting it with phosphates. If you look at meat industry trade journals and can get past all the macabre ads for head dropping robots for the kill floor and foot chopper-offers,you'll see all these ads for injection machines. Why? Because of increased profitability. Enhanced meats have better color and less purge.
Purge is a term used to describe the liquid that seeps from flesh as it ages. Many consumers find this unattractive, so the industry views it as a win-win. When you inject chicken with phosphates the consumer benefits through the perception of enhanced quality, and the processor benefits from increased yield because they just pumped it up with water and they sell it by the pound. The problem is that it can boost phosphorus levels in meat nearly 70%, a real and insidious danger for kidney patients, but now we know it's a danger for all.
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 Ariel Levitsky.
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