Doctor's Note

Bacterial endotoxins are another reason why animal products may trigger an inflammatory immune reaction. See The Leaky Gut Theory of Why Animal Products Cause InflammationThe Exogenous Endotoxin Theory; and Dead Meat Bacteria Endotoxemia. For more on arthritic joint disorders, see Diet & Rheumatoid Arthritis and Preventing Arthritis. For the role saturated animal fat may play in heart disease and cancer, see Blocking the First Step of Heart DiseaseBreast Cancer Survival, Butterfat, and Chicken; and Trans Fat, Saturated Fat and Cholesterol: Tolerable Upper Intake of Zero. What does this video have to do with the previous few about Cancer as an Autoimmune Disease? You’ll see in the next video, How Tumors Use Meat to Grow: Xeno-Autoantibodies.

For additional context, check out my associated blog posts: How Tumors Use Meat to GrowPlant-Based Diets for Rheumatoid ArthritisPlant-Based Diets for FibromyalgiaShould We Avoid Titanium Dioxide?Breast Cancer & Alcohol: How Much Is Safe?; and Mushrooms and Immunity.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

To post comments or questions into our discussion board, first log into Disqus with your account or with one of the accepted social media logins. Click on Login to choose a login method. Click here for help.

  • Thanks for this. Very interesting, need to do some PubMed searches :-)

    • Note the Proceedings paper is open access. And yes, scientists with adolescent boy level humor predictably refer to the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by it’s acronym.

      • Veganrunner

        Cute dr Greger

      • Ha! Love it! One should never lose their funny, esp the adolescent variety of funny.

      • HemoDynamic, M.D.

        Cows that say “Neu”
        and scientists that say P.N.A.S
        Love it!

  • Darin

    Facinating, deepening connection between the physiological rejection of animal products in the human biological systems. Thanks for connecting more dots.

  • A dietary change has scientifically been show correlating reduced arthritis pain in a couple of weeks, take a look, see, and be the change

    • thissal

      Look where? I’m completely vegan but it’s the nicotine that’s keeping the general arthritis pain going.

  • When this study says “meat” and “animal products” does that include fish in this case? The diagram only showed cow pig and goat. And the video said they studied the effect with “pig mucous”. I’m not sure people routinely consume fish mucous.

    • Only tuna, salmon, and cod have been tested so far. Salmon had the most Neu5Gc, but fish in general had less than other animals tested. None has been found anywhere in the plant kingdom.

      • Cleo Thompson

        Dr. Greger: How much meat would one have to consume over what period of time in order to have a similar daily dose of Neu5GC that the rodents in the study consumed over the same relative percentage of one’s life?

    • Toxins

      In addition to Dr. Greger’s statement “We found that Neu5Gc is rare in poultry and fish,common in milk products, and enriched in red meats”

    • Stonyspider

      Do some more research. The sialic acid NeuG5c is basically present only in mammal meat, wich would imply that fish and birds are avaible for a diet attempting to exclude the stated sugar molecule.

    • Cleo Thompson

      In general, foods of mammalian origin are implicated.

  • Kate Scott

    This is a complex but fascinating story with profound implications – I’d recommend reading some of the sources cited. There is a lecture by Ajit Varki, the lead researcher, available on u-tube. He says in that talk that this research convinced him to eliminate red meat and dairy food from his diet.

  • Mack

    Those people who advocate a paleo diet, one that makes eating meat mandatory have taken notice of this study. However, rather than accepting the evidence on face value, they blame the inflammation on unknown random variables such as possibly, gluten or inadequate intestinal flora. There seems to be a suspicion among this group also that vegans cherry pick their studies. How would you answer these speculations?

    • I’m not sure what Dr. Greger would say per se, but I’d say, “Well, isn’t that the pot calling the kettle black.” It seems to me that it is the paleo folks who are doing the cherry picking to make their points.

      I’d also point to what Dr. Greger, Dr. McDougall, and Jeff Novick have already said about assessing currently available scientific evidence when considering nutrition information to form one’s opinions and lifestyle actions:

      How can you believe in any scientific study?

      Convergence of Evidence

      Paleolithic Lessons

      Low Carb vs. Plant-Based Diet (Gotta love that video!)

      Today’s Breaking Health News!!

      • Cleo Thompson

        Sorry, man… McDougall is a quack.

    • These folks are guilty of “confirmatory bias”… looking for data to support their beliefs. I would answer them in two ways… the first is by demonstrating through your actions the value of eating a whole food plant based diet with adequate Vit B12. Second follow some of the links cited by WholeFoodChomper so you can answer their questions based on the best current science. The bottom line is that we are designed as hind gut fermenting herbivores. We are different from the great apes in that we have more amylase genes (i.e. used to digest starches) and a small intestine which has 4X the volume to help digest and absorb glucose molecules from the long chains of glucose molecules aka complex carbohydrates. Most of these “paleotypes” have heard about carbohydrate loading. We actually get about 10% of our calories from our colon aka our hind gut. I wouldn’t spend alot of time trying to convince these folks but refer them to the best sources of information like Dr. McDougall’s website, Jeff Novick’s blogs, and the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine website.

      • Well said, @DrDons:disqus . Yes, the PCRM web-site is another great source of information. Speaking of “confirmation bias”, Wikipedia has a great page on it. Makes for some good reading!

      • LynnCS

        I 100% agree with this. I have an older sister who is really sick with a lot of things. Suddenly she decided she had cancer. She sent a slide of a prepared urine sample to a place in Manila (She lives in Central Cal.) and got back a number that convinced her that she had cancer. She has not been diagnosed in the States. She went on a diet of cottage cheese and flax oil. Didn’t like the cc so substituted eggs. Eating abt 12 eggs a day and lots of flax oil, she says she is better and that it’s the only thing she can eat, because she has reflux. I tell all this to say that it is amazing what we humans will fall for. I have sent her links to all the sites available that you mention and encourage her to eat a vegan McDougall diet or at least drop the eggs and oil for a more green/natural carb centric approach. She says she gets headaches when she eats carbs, so there is no getting through to her. She has told people that I am “trying to make her into a vegitarian.” It’s amazing to me that that is still a bad word, but there is not changing her mind, so I have stopped for the most part and try to keep my eyes on myself. I appreciate you post. Thank you so much. It is hard to see someone you love suffer and stay in denial. What do they think is so bad about eating some potatoes and kale or a big bowl of salad. I can’t figure out the whole resistance thing.

        • Sorry to hear, and I know the feeling as I watch my family down the meats, oils, and junk food. Good news though: the kids tend to be curious about my diet.

    • Cleo Thompson

      Mack: Vegans DO cherry pick their studies. So do omnivores. The best way to deal with confirmation bias is to READ A LOT and give the smart, skeptical part of your brain a little exercise whilst also being realistic and liberally applying common sense. That transgenic mice fed impossibly high doses of Neu5GC daily over the course of their entire lives develop inflammation and inflammatory diseases is neither surprising nor does it offer any valid evidence of anything. It’s sort of a proof of concept, but the reality is that it doesn’t answer any questions or explain much of anything.

  • Lauri Hirvisalo

    In light of this and the other known benefits of plant-based diets, what would be your recommended upper limit for the total intake of animal products (as, say, servings per week) in general & for the distribution of different types of animal products within that limit?

    • @b5c09c4897f1d75e67056a9094babe62:disqus ,

      That is a great practical question! I suspect the good doctor would say there is no upper limit (i.e., no animal-based products allowed), but even Dr. Joel Furhman allows for some animal-based products in his “nutritarian” diet (beef, full fat dairy= “rarely”, poultry/oils= “once weekly or less”, eggs/fish/fat-free dairy= “twice weekly or less”). Is there a safe upper-limit? If so, I’d (and, my boyfriend, especially) would like to know, too.

    • Toxins

      An upper limit can be modeled after the Okinawan diet, the populations with the most centenarians per capita.

      Caloric Restriction, the Traditional
      Okinawan Diet, and Healthy Aging

      The Diet of the World’s Longest-Lived People and Its Potential Impact on Morbidity and Life Span
      Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci. 1114: 434–455 (2007).

      TABLE 1. Traditional dietary intake of Okinawans and other Japanese circa 1950

      Total calories 1785
      Total weight (grams) 1262
      Caloric density (calories/gram) 1.4
      Total protein in grams (% total calories) 39 (9)
      Total carbohydrate in grams (% total calories) 382 (85)
      Total fat in grams (% total calories) 12 (6)
      Saturated fatty acid 3.7
      Monounsaturated fatty acid 3.6
      Polyunsaturated fatty acid 4.8
      Total fiber (grams) 23

      Food group Weight in grams (% total calories)


      Rice 154 (12)
      Wheat, barley, and other grains 38 (7)
      Nuts, seeds Less than 1 (less than 1)
      Sugars 3 (less than 11)
      Oils 3 (2)
      Legumes (e.g., soy and other beans) 71 (6)

      Fish 15 (1)
      Meat (including poultry) 3 (less than 1)
      Eggs 1 (less than 1)
      Dairy less than 1 (less than 1)


      Sweet potatoes 849 (69)
      Other potatoes 2 (less than1)
      Other vegetables 114 (3)
      Fruit less than 1 (less than 1)
      Seaweed 1 (less than 1)
      Pickled vegetables 0 (0)
      Foods: flavors & alcohol 7 (less than 1)

      Data derived from analysis of U.S. National Archives, archived food records, 1949 and based on survey of 2279 persons.

      Some points

      Their diet was 85% carb, and 6% fat. Sweet potatoes (a Japanese sweet potato) made up almost 70% of their calories. Nuts were less than 1% of calories (the equivalent of 1/10 of an ounce a day) Oil was less than 2% of calories (which is about 1 tsp a day) and sugars were less than 1% of calories (less than a tsp a day)

      The total animal products including fish was less than 4% of calories which is less then 70 calories a day. That is the equivalent of around 2 oz of animal products or less a day

      • Very interesting. I wonder are there any Okinawan diet cookbooks out there?

        • Ah, here it is: The Okinawa Diet Plan.

          • Toxins

            Not sure how well I would trust this cookbook, if u look at the featured recipe its a pound and a half of meat, with 1.5 tablespoon of soy sauce (high sodium), olive oil spray and 3/4 a cup of cheddar. Where is that Japanese sweet potato? These numbers don’t match up with what I represented

          • True, the featured recipe does not seem very plant-based or even very Okinawan; however, part of the description of the book does state that the book “Provides three different eating plans, including Eastern/Okinawan, East-West fusion and Western to appeal to all tastes, including options for vegetarians–with more than 150 outstanding recipes and tools to keep you lean for life.” I think that if one wanted to, s/he could modify the recipes in this book to make them more vegan/plant-based and whole food friendly.

            It’s hard to judge the entire book by just the one featured recipe. It might be worth a trip to library to check the book out before investing in a purchase of it.

            Do you know of any other more accurate (i.e. less meat focused) Okinawan cookbooks out there?

      • Lauri Hirvisalo

        Thanks. That looks like a limit easily achievable by eating one slice of gravlax (or other raw prickled fish) a day supplemented with one serving of both dairy and meat’n’eggs a week, though I would probably limit red meat to occasional banquets and treat eggs and poultry as alternatives to each other (as, I believe, used to the trend in the Mediterranean). And all of these would be, obviously, eaten as a part of meals already consisting mainly of whole plant foods.

        Btw, apart from the intake of animal products, I’m curious about some other aspects of the Okinawan diet.

        Shouldn’t “Some points” also include the low total calory intake? I mean, less than 1800 kcal a day? One would think they’d need more than that…how much would you say does that contribute to the overall health benefits of the diet?

        I’m somewhat puzzled by the the fact that the intake of oils, though extremely low, still manages to be greater than that of nuts and seeds in the Okinawan diet. I’m under the impression that, being the more nutritious sources of dietary fat, nuts’n’seeds’ share of the calories could safely be several times higher than that (or is that amount of sweet potatoes, or indeed starchy foods in general, really essential for one’s chances of becoming a centenarian?). Or is it just that such variations of this dietary pattern simply happen not to exist, or have never been tested? Or am I simply wrong?

        • Toxins

          I am not sure i necessarily agree with your allowance for eggs, dairy and other meats into your diet. They ate primarily fish and that was 70 calories worth. Also keep in mind this was in 1950, the oceans were less polluted at this time and fish is the top food source of pollutants currently. In this day and age, the safest and healthiest path is to go completely whole foods plant based and eliminate all animal products. Eating one egg a day is not something that can be considered healthy

          Nuts and seeds are not at all essential to a diet but can be a healthful condiment when used in “moderation”. Nuts are generally high in omega 6, so unless your eating walnuts, flax seeds, and chia seeds, it is very easy to get too much omega 6 in the diet. Too much omega 6 does not allow the omega 3 to synthesize effectively to DHA and EPA. A healthful ratio of Omega 6 : Omega 3 is 4:1. Almonds are about 1800:1, Peanuts are 4400:1 and Brazil nuts are 500:1, you can see how including an abundance of these foods into your diet could inhibit proper omega 3 synthesis.

          A diet I advocate is a starch based diet, that being based on complex carbohydrates, as these are the most satiating and they are highly nutritious. Sweet potatoes, brown rice, whole grains and beans are all considered complex carbohydrates.

          It is interesting indeed that they had a low caloric intake, but energy needs and expenditures are satisfied naturally by hunger, and if one is eating a low fat, whole foods plant based diet with minimally processed products then I see no problem in eating over the 1800 calorie mark since your body would need it if you are truly hungry. An interesting look on Calorie density can be viewed in the attached photo provided by Jeff Novick. CC stands for complex carbohydrates.

  • Oskar

    I’m very curious about the Inuits and “meat causes inflammation”. In the PDF “Atkins exposed” I can read that they suffer greatly from osteoporosis and PCB-poisoning, but shouldn’t they also suffer from heart disease? From what I’ve read elsewhere they don’t, which is something I find a little weird.

    Is there an explanation somewhere to be found?

    • Dr Connie Sanchez, N.D.

      Studies do show that Inuit do suffer from cardiovascular disease despite high intake of omega-3 fatty acids. Ebbesson SO, et al., Eskimos hae CHD despite high consumption of omega-3 fatty acids: the Alaska Siberia project. Int J Circumpolar Health. 2005 Sep;64(4):387-95. Ebbesson SO, et al. Consumption of omega-3 fatty acids is not associated with a reduction in carotid atherosclerosis: the Genetics of Coronary Artery Disease in Alaska Natives study. Atherosclerosis. 2008 Aug; 199(2):346-53. Epub 2007 Dec 4.

  • DT

    If red meat causes chronic inflammation, it should be possible to confirm that using RCT. I did a literature search, and found only 1 RCT in which red meat did NOT cause inflammation.

  • Susan

    I have a friend with Dupuytren’s contracture. Not only do several of her relatives suffer from it, but it is interesting that this disease is associated with mostly with me in Northern Europe or of Northern European descent. Could this obvious geographical link be associated with diet? I could not find any research on this link. Thanks!

  • my entire family has been vegan for 8 years

    wouldn’t an excellent way to research Neu5gc be to examine a vegan who developed cancer? has a vegan ever developed cancer?

    I love booze. if neu5gc is required for cancer-building, can I then drink my face off and not get liver cancer if i’m a vegan?

    I know i’m being a bit silly, but it’s still a pretty fantastic question…in my opinion ;)

    • Toxins

      Alcohol is recognized as a carcinogen by the World Health Organization.

      And nearly every cancer can be caused by alcohol as alcohol affects all tissue.

      In observational studies, moderate drinking is associated with a reduced risk of more than twenty different diseases and health problems. However, it would be premature to conclude that there is a causal relationship.

      Method: This paper critically reviews the evidence for such associations.

      It was found that reasons for questioning the causal association of moderate drinking and a reduced health risk are: the lack of dose-response relationships; the characteristics and lifestyles of today’s abstainers and moderate drinkers; the lack of plausible biological mechanisms; the problems in the classification of drinking groups, and; the general limitations of observational studies.

      Conclusions: The evidence for the harmful effects of alcohol is undoubtedly stronger than the evidence for beneficial effects.

      “Whether alcohol prevents several diseases and health problems at a level of consumption where health benefits outweigh harm has obvious consequences for public health education. The absence of definite knowledge leaves plenty of room for wishful thinking, which we observe frequently on this topic.”

      In summary, alcohol is a cancer promoter and should be avoided. Yes vegans get cancer, but the best chances at avoiding cancer is to eat whole, unprocessed plant foods, minimizing alcohol and keeping omega 6:3 ratios in check by limiting nut consumption.

  • Betty

    Have there been any studies if you get these same effects with natural grass fed meat products?

    • I am aware of no studies but given what we know about the metabolism it would be present in grass fed meat products… not to mention all the other bad things. In my work as Medical Director for Meals for Health, private practice and working with Whole Food team members at the McDougall clinic the information about 5Neugc helps explain why patients who go on a the appropriate plant based diet experience improvement in joint and muscle symptoms within days of making the change.

      • Kat

        organic grass fed?

  • TastesLikeEmu

    That’s why I raise emus. We eat and sell the meat. Studies show that emu meat is in the anti-inflammatory foods.
    Even better yet, people that have developed the so called ‘Red Meat’ allergy must give up all mammal meats, but they can still eat red meat burgers, steaks or any other red meat dish by using emu. Because the emu is a bird, the meat does not contain the alpha-galactose that is at the root of that allergy, hence being called the ‘alpha-gal’ allergy.

    EMU: The other Red Meat.

    • Charzie

      That’s just swell…as long as you’re not an emu.

      • TastesLikeEmu


    • What studies show emu meat is anti-inflammmatory? Citation needed please.

    • What studies show emu meat is anti-inflammmatory? Citation needed please.

      • TastesLikeEmu

        The anti-inflammatory properties of the fatty-acid-rich Emu Fat is the key factor in this.
        Nutrient data Source: USDA SR-21.

        A full breakdown of those nutrient values, is fully covered by ‘’, pulling from the referenced USDA database.

        Link to Emu Meat data:

        • “The anti-inflammatory properties of the fatty-acid-rich Emu Fat is the key factor in this”

          Where’s the research paper / study showing this to be true?

          The link provides a nutrient breakdown. It doesn’t tell me that Emu is a healthy food to consume… especially in the context of this website (NutritionFacts) that uses research and studies to show that a whole food plant based diet is far healthier than animal produce.
          Also, 100g of Emu has 71mg of cholesterol; hardly healthy in the context of heart disease for example.

          You’re on the wrong website promoting Emu meat me thinks :-)

        • Rami_RD2B

          Please see here regarding the inflammatory properties of wild game.

          Emu is likely not an exception.

  • John Mclaren

    Certainly backs up McDougall’s “molecular mimicry” autoimmune reaction hypothesis.