Chicken, Eggs, & Inflammation

Chicken, Eggs, & Inflammation
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Chicken and eggs are the top sources of arachidonic acid in the diet—an omega-6 fatty acid involved in our body’s inflammatory response.

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

Inflammation isn’t always bad. When you get a splinter, or cut yourself, the wound can get all red, hot, swollen, painful, pus-y. Inflammation is one way our bodies fight off infection. So, we do need some arachidonic acid to trigger the inflammatory cascade. But we don’t need to eat any, since our bodies make all we need.

For carnivores like cats, arachidonic acid is an essential nutrient. Since they’re eating animals all day, they get it pre-formed in their diet, so their bodies never needed to make any. We, however, evolved from plant-eating apes, and so we evolved to make it ourselves.

It’s like cholesterol. Our bodies needs some cholesterol, and so our bodies makes all we need. There’s no need to take in extra through our diet. And in fact, too much cholesterol is a bad thing. The same thing may be true with arachidonic acid.

If you want to try to stay away from the stuff, these are the top ten sources in the American diet. As you can see: overwhelmingly, chicken and eggs. So, even semi-vegetarians can drop their levels down—though one would have to eat vegan to optimally minimize one’s intake.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Professor Teresa G. Fischer

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

Inflammation isn’t always bad. When you get a splinter, or cut yourself, the wound can get all red, hot, swollen, painful, pus-y. Inflammation is one way our bodies fight off infection. So, we do need some arachidonic acid to trigger the inflammatory cascade. But we don’t need to eat any, since our bodies make all we need.

For carnivores like cats, arachidonic acid is an essential nutrient. Since they’re eating animals all day, they get it pre-formed in their diet, so their bodies never needed to make any. We, however, evolved from plant-eating apes, and so we evolved to make it ourselves.

It’s like cholesterol. Our bodies needs some cholesterol, and so our bodies makes all we need. There’s no need to take in extra through our diet. And in fact, too much cholesterol is a bad thing. The same thing may be true with arachidonic acid.

If you want to try to stay away from the stuff, these are the top ten sources in the American diet. As you can see: overwhelmingly, chicken and eggs. So, even semi-vegetarians can drop their levels down—though one would have to eat vegan to optimally minimize one’s intake.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Professor Teresa G. Fischer

49 responses to “Chicken, Eggs, & Inflammation

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  1. This is super informative. Thanks! I like how you clearly stated that our body makes the cholesterol we need as well as the arachadonic acid based on our evolutionary origins as primarily herbivores.




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  2. Thanks Toxins. I should have checked with the USDA. Nice to know that breast milk has cholesterol. So the answer to Bechochic is I don’t know if babies need it or not but breast milk remains the overwhelming best food for newborns.




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    1. As I understand it, we all need cholesterol. I think we make the right kind and the right amount. Certainly not in the form of bread and butter and steak and gravy.




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    2. Babies are not good nutrition examples to use for adults. Babies are growing and require different proportions of nutrients. In addition, it is unlikely that the infant’s digestive trac (including the micro-biom) is fully developed – so they digest things differently.

      Even premature babies require different nutrients than a full term baby – but the mom’s body automatically adjusts the nutrients in the breast milk to accommodate the needs of the premature infant.

      Another example is cows: No adult cow drinks cow’s milk. A new born calf needs the milk – an adult does not and, in fact needs other things that are not present in the milk.

      Yes, breast milk is preferred for infants for MANY different reasons but: Using infant nutrition needs to project adult needs is not a viable method.




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  3. As for the cholesterol in breast milk, this might be a helpful explanation:

    From http://www.vegfamily.com/dietician/0705b.htm :

    By the way, human breast milk (which is, strictly speaking, an animal product) does contain cholesterol (yup, even a vegan mom’s – because mom’s body creates it, and some is naturally present in milk). This is, of course, fine because mother’s milk is the perfect food for babies. But if medical experts and formula manufacturers thought that dietary cholesterol was so important for brain development, they would put cholesterol in infant formula. They don’t.




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  4.  Very interesting video. As an asthmatic who’s condition is well controlled with theophylline 200 mg tabs, Proair, and Symbicort; it’s important for me to be knowledgeable about what I put into my body. Unfortunately, I recently failed to do some research before embarking on a bodybuilding regimen. I began using several supplements like L-arginine, a Nitric oxide booster, and a post-exercise tablet along with perhaps the worst possible form of protein. I started purchasing cheap, farm raised tilapia from the largest retailer in the world. Needless to say, this was due to economical reasons. To make matters worse, I was without my corticosteroid inhaler Symbicort for approximately one month. I believe all of these factors lead to some significant inflammation in the lungs along with scattered prehypertensive bP readings. I went to the doctor and was given a corticosteroid injection and some samples of Advair to get me by until I could return on Symbicort. I have been back now on Symbicort for about ten days now and I’m doing better day by day. Needless to say, this has been a hard lesson to learn, but a lesson none the less. I’ve said all this because the more I learn about bodybuilding nutrition, the more detrimental it appears to be for those with medical conditions like asthma, allergies, various heart conditions, and arthritis. I hope I’m wrong. Assuming bodybuilding can be done in a healthy and safe way for those just mentioned; it just leads to many more questions. Let’s begin by looking at the main food sources for the vary building blocks for muscles themselves. The “big three” are fish, chicken, and eggs. The concern here is that they all contain arachidonic acid which is the culprit for inflammation. Obviously how this process affects individuals is as unique as the individuals themselves. It’s not a secret that this acid is hard to avoid for those in this sport, because of the vary foods which contain it. The “Million Dollar” question is: how is the body going to respond to such large quantities of this chemical that a sport such as bodybuilding demands? This is perhaps the greatest hurdle for those aspiring this sport with pre existing conditions. So, for someone with asthma, what’s the healthiest, safest, and most economical form of wild fish? Is 100% egg whites safe for asthmatics? And if not, what other sources of protein are? Is there a limit Before an inflammatory response occurs? Again, I hope I’m wrong for sounding so pessimistic, because afterall, I would like to “step-up” my exercise routine in order to reach my genetic potential. I’m just not willing to jeopardize my health to do it.




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    1. There are a lot of stories of people overcoming Asthma buy going on raw fruits/vegis/lots of greens. Juicing, smoothies, and salads. Check out Youtube.




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    2. I would add dairy to your list to be avoided as an asthmatic…. see as a start the videos on dairy especially see… http://nutritionfacts.org/video/is-milk-and-mucus-a-myth/. You might also enjoy the video… http://nutritionfacts.org/video/inflammatory-remarks-about-arachidonic-acid/ and the others listed under the asthma topic. I wouldn’t worry about protein intake see the three newsletter articles in Dr. John McDougall’s monthly newsletters… History of Protein(12/03), Protein Overload(1/04) and Sources of Protein(4/07). You might be interested in comparing the essential amino acid profile of eggs, broccoli and asparagus. Evidence suggests you should minimize protein for long term health. As a body builder you might enjoy videos and material by Robert Cheeke who is a plant based body builder. There are no “safe” fish only fish that have less chemicals… as they all come with cholesterol and saturated fat. The Omega 3’s in the fish are from the algae the fish eat. No reason to eat fish if you want to eat a healthy diet. Good luck.




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  5. Are the negative effects (i.e inflammation due to omega-6 consumption) of eggs strictly quarantined to the yolk? I eat egg whites fairly heavily so was curious if I should change my dietary habits. Thank you for the study results.




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  6. What about the gels that are being injected into knees that come from rooster feathers? Should that be helpful or harmful for arthritis?
    I believe it is called gel one by Zimme corp. can someone help with this? Thanks, stretch




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  7. hey, I am kunal from india.

    just few months ago, had high inflammation.. due to this my RBC count (Iron) get lower and still facing iron deficiency.

    Can u pls tell me if my RBC is only 85% and want to increase asap. what should i do..

    doctor suggested not to go for nonveg due to infection problem..

    what is the best way for getting rid of iron deficiency. ?

    email : kunal.dodiya1@gmail.com




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  8. Man I am finding out every food I find worth eating is bad for me. As a woman of only 85lbs at 5’4 eggs were one of the things I use to help gain weight and ENJOY the food. Most everything I eat now I just tolerate. I don’t enjoy it much. I am not a fan of veggie and beans no matter how they are prepared. This makes me sad that I might have to get rid of eggs to




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  9. I disagree with your cholesterol analogy. Cholesterol is very important and eating cholesterol is NOT a cause of high cholesterol since the body simply makes less. The problem is eating high saturated fats and salt, these cause the body to produce more cholesterol. Eggs are one of the best foods around, be cautious about telling people not to eat them. I feel you should also mention there is good and bad cholesterol, and that it’s the ratio of one to the other which is important, not dietary cholesterol. If eggs -even organic- are contaminated, I accept the advice, but not on the simple fact of their cholesterol content. The only people advised to avoid/limit eggs, are those with disorders/pre existing cholesterol problems.




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    1. You’re 100% correct on the cholestrol and the eggs thing. and I honestly couldn’t care less what the USDA or National Academy of Science say, countless other entities and studies in the US and Europe recommend otherwise. The USDA and NAS both recommend grains and breads (whole grains) that are loaded with gluten; which is a harmful protein whether or not you’re allergic. Should we start counting the inflamatory properties of grains and legumes or their destructive impact on the digestive system? or should we talk about the hormonal inbalances soy creates. All foods have their good and bad properties, but we can’t just minimize the good and maximize the bad and vice versa to justify our eating choices and we also can’t discard an entire food category because of the downs and be missing out on the ups. Do the cost benefit math. Also while I’m at it, all those rules and studies don’t apply to every one, each human machine processes different foods in different ways. It’s each person’s responsibility to find a deitary system that works for them.




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      1. I know this is a super old response, but I like how neither of you provide any scientific data to back up your (scientifically flawed) claims, beside the moderator who attempted to help alleviate the confusion. Saying exogenous cholesterol and arachodonic acid are healthy, does not make it true. I’m sorry. Cognitive Dissonance is certainly real though.




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  10. Why is it that I eat 3 eggs (organic free range) a day at least 4 days a week and my good cholesterol is way off the charts and my bad cholesterol is way below the lowest in the range? My doctor actually was taking notes on my diet to replicate it




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    1. ACTUALLY THIS IS CORRECT…….LATEST STUDIES SHOW THE MORE EGGS U EAT THE LOWER YOUR BAD CH. GOES…..DO NOT BE AFRAID TOO EAT EGGS ..THEY ARE HEALTHY FOR ..REGARDLESS OF WHAT YOUR GOVT. OR DOCTORS TELL U….




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        1. Oh, okay. That’s the comment you were looking for above then? Sometimes comments with photos or links get stuck in the spam filter. The only time we might delete a comment is when it’s an ad hominem attack on another user, but that hasn’t happened much in my time here.




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  11. What should you do if you are low in arachidonic acid, like if you’re an alcoholic or have diabetes, anxiety, ADHD, depression, eczema, autism, Alzheimer’s, or schizophrenia, all of whom have found to be low in arachidonic acid? Or, if you don’t have the delta 6 desaturase enzyme to make arachidonic acid out of linoleic acid, like people with Celtic, Scandinavian and Naive American ancestry? Would you have to eat meat?




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  12. You have to look for high content of dha,epa and dpa and low in. aa så so Fish is excellent. Eggs, poultry, meat and organ meat are bad.




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