Red meat has faced critics and abuse from the medical world for many years now, and the dangers of consuming large quantities of red meet seem only to increase with every new research study.
One of the major reasons why red meat is not recommended by physicians all around the world is with regards to the high amounts of sialic acid present in such meats.
Sialic acid has been associated with a myriad of undesirable conditions ranging from increased aging symptoms to cardiovascular ill-health, inflammatory diseases, and sub-par metabolism, among others.
In one of the recent studies on the safety of meat, particularly the presence of sialic acid in pig meat, a non-human molecule identified as Neu5Gc common in red meet became the new center of interest.
According to a research study conducted by researchers from both UC Davis and Xiemen Universities of medical studies, this molecule has been shown to rapidly increase inflammatory diseases and the risk of tumor formation.
The results of the extensive tests done were rather baffling, as it was further determined that these risks increase with cooking. Here is a descriptive review of this molecule including what it is, how it affects the body, and how to avoid it for a safer and healthier lifestyle.
What is Neu5Gc?
Interestingly, Neu5Gc is a naturally occurring sugar molecule that is not present in the human body. Based on the research study, this molecule occurs on the sub-surface cells of most animals like cattle and pigs, but not in humans.
It is mainly integrated into the human cell when ingested through the diet. Essentially, eating a lot of red meat and pig organs will increase Neu5Gc in your body and this brings with it the risk of suffering chronic inflammation and related diseases.
The research study revealed that the molecule is not only in red meat, but also occurs in pig organs like spleen, kidney, liver, lung, and heart in much higher concentrations. The levels of this toxic molecule also increase with cooking.
How Neu5Gc Affects the Body
Repetitive consumption of red meat and pig organs is associated with increasingly severe inflammation. Since Neu5Gc is not naturally occurring in the human cell, its presence is immediately recognized as foreign, prompting the body to produce more antibodies to fight against the molecule.
Through persistent intake of red meat, more Neu5Gc is delivered into the cells and the immune system produces even more antibodies as a counteraction. The end result is chronic inflammation which is often associated with tumor development and cancer progression. In fact, it is in these two main ways that Neu5Gc affects the body.
This occurs when the immune system constantly produces antibodies to fight sialic acid without success. Since the body continues to produce antibodies and more sialic acid is ingested and pushed to the cells, large concentrations of antibodies and Neu5Gc will be present in various parts causing discomfort and inflammation.
This may gradually develop into chronic painful inflammations. The pain will also stimulate production of more antibodies, further worsening the situation.
Tumor development can start as minute swelling and materialize into full-grown cancer. Chronic inflammation can only lead to one certain development and that is a tumor.
When the deposits continue to accumulate, the cells gradually transform both in shape and function. Added risk factors may then make it easy for the cells to become cancerous.
Those with a high risk for tumors and cancer should try to avoid this molecule as much as possible by staying away from red meat, especially the organs where concentrations are much higher.
Neu5Gc does not only cause inflammation and tumors, but is also associated with a host of cardiovascular diseases and certain bacterial infections.
How to Avoid Neu5Gc
Sialic acid has been known to exist in animal meat for a long time and is one of the reasons many doctors advocate white meat instead of red. However, no research prior to this was conducted to measure the levels of this toxic acid in different animal organs.
Thanks to LC mass spectrometry, the study was able to indicate the varying concentrations of Neu5Gc in different parts of the animal. In particular, the test revealed that sialic acid was largely concentrated in the major organs like the spleen, kidney, liver, and heart, rather than in skeletal muscles. The study done on pig organs carried on animals aged 3 days, 38 days, and 180 days.
Although there were changes in the level of sialic acid across these ages, concentrations were found in all particularly in the heart, liver, and spleen where the levels are alarmingly high. In order to avoid Neu5Gc, it is advisable to stay away from red meat altogether. However, not everyone can quit red meat for good, especially if you have become accustomed to the practice of consuming red meat products and meals every week.
Eating red meat from time to time will almost certainly remain part of your lifestyle unless you make a devotion to stop. Such consumers are advised to be very careful when picking the types of meat they eat.
Since the research shows large concentrations in the heart, spleen, liver, and lungs, it may be important to avoid these organs and simply go for the lean skeletal muscles instead.
Another important consideration is to avoid cooked meat. The study revealed that concentrations of Neu5Gc increased with cooking as more sialic acid was released from the cells during this process, making them readily available during food digestion and absorption.
Instead of cooking your red meat in stoke, you may consider other preparation methods such as grilling, roasting, brazing, and frying. Pig meat was shown to have higher levels of sialic acid so if it is possible, find other substitutions.
NEU5GC Review Summary
Neu5Gc evidently has many unpleasant impacts on human health and it is only wise to try and avoid it. White meat is still very delicious and can provide satisfaction for those who crave red meat. It is advisable to stay away from red meat unless all the toxins have been removed.
Hopefully, technology and research can allow for a means to remove all the acids and toxins that make red meet awfully unhealthy without spoiling the marvelous taste and aroma.