does ground beef cause inflammation

Even though the evidence isn’t completely clear, many experts agree that people who eat diets high in red meat are at higher risk for having higher levels of inflammation markers in their blood. And this could lead to chronic inflammation and increase the risk of developing conditions like heart disease and cancer.

Inflammation is a risk factor for many chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease (CVD), and the impact of diet on inflammation is an area of growing scientific interest. In particular, recommendations to limit red meat consumption are often based, in part, on old studies suggesting that red meat negatively affects inflammation – yet more recent studies have not supported this.

“The role of diet, including red meat, on inflammation and disease risk has not been adequately studied, which can lead to public health recommendations that are not based on strong evidence,” said Dr. Alexis Wood, associate professor of pediatrics – nutrition at the USDA/ARS Children’s Nutrition Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital. “Our team sought to take a closer look by using metabolite data in the blood, which can provide a more direct link between diet and health.”

Wood and her team analyzed cross-sectional data captured from approximately 4,000 older adults participating in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA), and recently published their findings in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Cross-sectional data is a useful source of evidence on how diet affects health; it uses data that is observed with free-living people, without attempting to influence their usual lifestyle. In this way, it may be easier to take results from such studies and apply them to non-research settings. In addition to assessing participants’ self-reported food intake and several biomarkers, researchers also measured an array of dietary intake metabolites in blood. Plasma metabolites can help capture the effects of dietary intake as food is processed, digested and absorbed.

Researchers found that when adjusted for body mass index (BMI), intake of unprocessed and processed red meat (beef, pork or lamb) was not directly associated with any markers of inflammation, suggesting that body weight, not red meat, may be the driver of increased systemic inflammation. Of particular interest was the lack of a link between red meat intake and C-reactive protein (CRP), the major inflammatory risk marker of chronic disease.

“Our analysis adds to the growing body of evidence that indicates the importance of measuring plasma markers, such as metabolites, to track diet and disease risk associations, versus relying on self-reported dietary intake alone,” Wood said. “Our analysis does not support previous observational research associations linking red meat intake and inflammation.”

Because observational studies cannot indicate cause and effect, randomized controlled trials (RCTs) where individuals are randomly assigned to consume a dietary factor of interest or not consume it, are needed as an additional line of evidence to adequately understand if red meat does not alter inflammation. Several RCTs have demonstrated that lean unprocessed beef can be enjoyed in heart-healthy dietary patterns.

“We have reached a stage where more studies are needed before we can make recommendations to limit red meat consumption for reducing inflammation if we want to base dietary recommendations on the most up-to-date evidence,” Wood said. “Red meat is popular, accessible and palatable – and its place in our diet has deep cultural roots. Given this, recommendations about reducing consumption should be supported by strong scientific evidence, which doesn’t yet exist.”

Other contributors to this work include Goncalo Graca, Meghana Gadgil, Mackenzie K. Senn, Matthew A. Allison, Ioanna Tzoulaki, Philip Greenland, Timothy Ebbels, Paul Elliott, Mark O. Goodarzi, Russell Tracy, Jerome I. Rotter and David Herrington.

The study was supported by the Beef Checkoff. Wood was supported, in part, by the USDA/ARS (Cooperative Agreement 58-3092-5-001). Mark Goodarzi was supported by the Eris M. Field Chair in Diabetes Research. Jerome Rotter was supported, in part, by the National Institutes of Health grants from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease (DK063491), from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (UL1TR001881), the CHARGE Consortium, and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI; R01HL105756).

Why do these foods cause inflammation?

“The cells in your body absorb and react to processed foods differently than they do to natural foods,” says Dr. Saint Andre.

Your body is programmed to metabolize and use the nutrients, vitamins and minerals that vegetables, fruits and whole grains provide. It requires these things, in fact, because they help coordinate essential functions necessary for existence.

The refined forms of sugars, fats and grains that are packed into processed foods are a different story. Theyre not needed. Plus, your body doesnt always know what to do with them — especially when theyre consumed in large amounts.

“Foods that have high levels of fat, sugar and other refined carbohydrates are essentially toxic to our bodies and trigger inflammatory pathways through a number of direct and indirect ways,” warns Dr. Saint Andre.

For instance, refined vegetables oils added to processed foods can throw your omega-6 to omega-3 fat ratio out of whack. Although not a source of refined fat, red meat can, too, since it contains high levels of omega 6 fats.

Omega-6 and omega-3 are essential fatty acids that the body cannot produce but are necessary to survive. Although foods with higher omega-6 fatty acid content are generally healthy, higher intake in proportion to omega-3 fatty acids leads to an overall increase of inflammatory diseases.

Experts consider the ideal omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid ratio to be around 2:1, helpful in the prevention of cardiovascular disease and cancer; a 5:1 ratio has shown benefit in preventing some diseases as well, compared to the 10:1 ratio seen in the typical American diet. Dr. Saint Andre recommends increasing your consumption of omega-3s and avoiding excess consumption of omega-6s.

“This omega-6/omega-3 imbalance activates proinflammatory substances called cytokines, which contribute to fatty buildup in the arteries that leads to a chronic inflammatory state (atherosclerosis) and whats called oxidative stress,” explains Dr. Saint Andre.

(More on oxidative stress in just a bit.)

Then theres how added sugar and refined grains — both plentiful in many processed foods — cause spikes in your blood sugar.

“Having elevated blood sugar levels activates proinflammatory pathways,” says Dr. Saint Andre. “Additionally, continued blood sugar spikes can eventually lead to insulin resistance and diabetes, which are also linked to inflammation.”

Lastly, a diet that prioritizes processed foods over natural ones is inherently unbalanced and hypercaloric, leading to weight gain.

“As our weight increases, the amount of fat cells also increases,” explains Dr. Saint Andre. “These cells secrete many hormones and substances, some of which put the body into an inflammatory state.”

The bottom line: These foods can directly activate pro-inflammatory substances and indirectly promote weight gain, all of which lead to inflammation in the body.

What foods cause inflammation?

Theres more bad news: The problem foods are ones that happen to be abundant throughout the typical American diet.

The five types of foods that cause inflammation include:

  • Red meat and processed meats, including bacon, hot dogs, lunch meats and cured meats
  • Refined grains, including white bread, white rice, pasta and breakfast cereals
  • Snack foods, including chips, cookies, crackers and pastries
  • Sodas and other sweetened drinks
  • Fried foods

What these foods all have in common is that they contain added sugars, saturated fats and/or trans fats. With the exception of red meat, these are also all considered processed foods.

Alcohol can also cause inflammation.

Whats more, alcohol is often combined with the aforementioned inflammation-promoting foods. When combined with refined grains, added sugars or mixed with soda, alcoholic drinks become a double whammy.

Inflammation is a risk factor for many chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease (CVD), and the impact of diet on inflammation is an area of growing scientific interest. In particular, recommendations to limit red meat consumption are often based, in part, on old studies suggesting that red meat negatively affects inflammation – yet more recent studies have not supported this.

“We have reached a stage where more studies are needed before we can make recommendations to limit red meat consumption for reducing inflammation if we want to base dietary recommendations on the most up-to-date evidence,” Wood said. “Red meat is popular, accessible and palatable – and its place in our diet has deep cultural roots. Given this, recommendations about reducing consumption should be supported by strong scientific evidence, which doesn’t yet exist.”

“Our analysis adds to the growing body of evidence that indicates the importance of measuring plasma markers, such as metabolites, to track diet and disease risk associations, versus relying on self-reported dietary intake alone,” Wood said. “Our analysis does not support previous observational research associations linking red meat intake and inflammation.”

Wood and her team analyzed cross-sectional data captured from approximately 4,000 older adults participating in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA), and recently published their findings in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Cross-sectional data is a useful source of evidence on how diet affects health; it uses data that is observed with free-living people, without attempting to influence their usual lifestyle. In this way, it may be easier to take results from such studies and apply them to non-research settings. In addition to assessing participants’ self-reported food intake and several biomarkers, researchers also measured an array of dietary intake metabolites in blood. Plasma metabolites can help capture the effects of dietary intake as food is processed, digested and absorbed.

The study was supported by the Beef Checkoff. Wood was supported, in part, by the USDA/ARS (Cooperative Agreement 58-3092-5-001). Mark Goodarzi was supported by the Eris M. Field Chair in Diabetes Research. Jerome Rotter was supported, in part, by the National Institutes of Health grants from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease (DK063491), from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (UL1TR001881), the CHARGE Consortium, and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI; R01HL105756).

Even though the evidence isn’t completely clear, many experts agree that people who eat diets high in red meat are at higher risk for having higher levels of inflammation markers in their blood. And this could lead to chronic inflammation and increase the risk of developing conditions like heart disease and cancer.

FAQ

What in meat causes inflammation?

In addition, red meat is the major source of serum iron, especially for the meats with high myoglobin content (14). However, excessive intake of iron ions in human body may trigger oxidative stress and aggravate inflammatory reaction (2) (Figure 1).

What is the best meat for anti-inflammatory?

Grass-Fed Organic Chicken, Pork, Lamb & Beef In fact, pasture-raised chickens, pigs, lambs, and cows have higher levels of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids and lower levels of pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids than corn-fed animals. Research even shows less disease among people who opt for over conventional.

Is beef more inflammatory than chicken?

Is red meat inflammatory? Red meat is not inflammatory because there’s no good evidence that red meat is more inflammatory than other meats. Some research shows red meat being less inflammatory, but there might be people who react to red meat differently and flare up.

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