How Meat really gets to your Brain

There are moments, where I just cant stop craving a juicy burger. Just imagine a perfectly sized beef patty, caramelised onions, cheese softly melting and hugging the edges of the patty – it’s perfection.

Image taken from: Jamie Oliver

I am not going to lie –  I never thought of becoming a vegetarian. I do enjoy a nice meat – based- meal once in a while. However, there is one thing that quickly made me realise that meat consumption is not only destroying our environment – but our health!

Our society has already moved into the „new machine age“. Skilled, manual professions have slowly been replaced by technology and the current on- growing generation is in constant competition – now globally! – for high ranking jobs in our capitalist world. We feed our brains with the best „food“ that we can grab:  what used to be learned from books is now freely accessible online, we can learn to speak any language at any point by just using our smartphone,  we are constantly over- flooded with global news through our BBC app and can instantly be part of a global dialogue using social media. What matters today is an outstanding instagram account, where we show only our best and happiest life- moments, and an elaborate linked- in profile for our future boss to see our extensive list of skills. In this hyper- competitive world full of opportunity, shouldn’t we nurture our mind as well as our bodies?

Our body needs good food, just like our brain does. When scrolling through instagram, there is definitely a trend towards being „fit“, eating „low carb“, „high protein“, „gluten free“, „paleo“ – you get the drift. It seems that everybody seems to understand that eating more fruit and veg is good,  that carbs are bad and that meat is high protein and thus essential for muscle gain. But it seems that our culture has lost the ability to question what is being produced for us by the food industry. So let me come right to the point.

I want to use this post to talk a little bit about meat and brain disease.

Meat Consumption and Alzheimers Disease

Alzheimer’s should be a term that everyone should have heard by now. Especially today, where its prevalence has skyrocketed. Some say its your genes rather than your lifestyle that is responsible for developing certain disorders. The risk of developing Alzheimer’s when living in the United States is 10 times higher as compared to living rural India. So, does this mean that all Americans are more genetically susceptible to Alzheimers? Not really.

When looking at migration studies, where people from low risk countries move to high risk countries, the answer clearly lies within the westernised diet. Japan used to harbour some of the healthiest and longest living people in the world. Today, the increasing prevalence of Alzheimer’s goes hand in hand with the shift from a rice and veggie diet to a dairy and meat based diet. Researchers have found that the strongest correlation between Alzheimer’s and dementia is to animal fat intake. Those who don’t eat meat in the US have cut their risk of developing Alzheimer’s in half – just like that. It’s never too late to change your diet. Now lets take a closer look at what exactly happens in our brain when we eat excessive meat.

According to pathologists, the underlying causes in Alzheimer’s are plaques, tangles and traces of toxins in the brain. There are certain enzymes in our brain that can untangle the mess, but if too many toxins are around, the mess cannot be cleaned up. So- called „gerontotoxins“ ( or AGEs) are said to inhibit these „cleaning“ enzymes and accelerate the damage. And – you’ve guessed it- meat is the bad guy here, who endangers our little enzyme- helpers. AGEs were found at increased levels in the brains of Alzheimer patients and add to the loss of cognitive function. The major source of these AGE toxins can be the smoke of your cigarette or they can even be produced naturally by our body. But the largest source of AGEs are meats that have been exposed to dry heat or high temperature cooking methods. Here are some examples for you: Big Macs, Hot pockets, BBQ Chicken, Pan- fried Turkey, Grilled Chicken, Stir Fried Steak Strips, Roasted Chicken – the list goes on. So yes – Cooking Method Matters! A boiled meat will produce less AGEs than a fried meat. Now, it must be said at this point, that other products of our daily life may also contain AGEs including coffee, apples, cheese etc. but at low to moderate levels, since our body can detoxify certain amounts of toxins. The research concludes that meat consumption dramatically increases the gerontotoxin levels in our body and significantly adds to the development of Alzheimer’s. Because AGE levels are both reducible and preventible, the answer should be clear to everyone now. Because, who really wants to lose all their memories, right?

In case you are interested in reading up on this topic, I can highly recommend the following book: „How not to die“ by Michael Greger (find it here). This book is truly inspiring and very informative for everyone, who is willing to change their life to a longer and healthier one.

I cannot stress enough how important it is to feed our body and mind with healthier foods that don’t only include „high protein“ or „low carb“. We need to start thinking about what we buy in the supermarkets and how much damage processed food can bring with them. On a happier note: our bodies are powerful! And by cutting out on the bad stuff in our life and eating a wholesome diet with alternative proteins, we can continue living sharp and memorable years.




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