Pandemics Ahead: Number 14 in a series looking at the link between animal protein and global health disasters.
Excerpt from Meat Climate Change: The 2nd Leading Cause of Global Warming by Moses Seenarine, (2016). Xpyr Press, 348 pages. ISBN: 0692641157. http://amzn.to/2yn7XrC
Research show that consumption of plant-based foods versus those of animal origin is the main cause for variance in human gut microbes. Long-term vegetarian diets have contributed to large shifts in microbiota composition. And importantly, gut bacteria are related to the body's immune system.(1011) Carcass from pig, cow, and sheep contains a sugar, Neu5Gc, which is naturally produced by carnivores, but not humans. That means that when humans eat red animal flesh, the body triggers an immune response to the foreign sugar, producing antibodies which spark inflammation, and eventually cancer.(1012) This may help explain potential connections of animal consumption to other diseases exacerbated by chronic inflammation, such as atherosclerosis and type 2 diabetes. Further, a pigment in red meat may damage the DNA of cells lining the digestive system.
There are several parasitic diseases associated with ingestion of cattle and pig flesh, and organic flesh may have higher parasite risk. Parasites include toxoplasma cysticercosis, sarcocystis, taenia saginata, taeniasis and trichinosis. T.solium, also known as pork tapeworms, can measure up to 10m (33 ft) when mature and are among the biggest of a ribbon-like worm that infect humans. Malnutrition can occur as the worm competes with the body for food.
Eating under-cooked carcass especially from pig, sheep and wild animals such as deer, is one of the main ways people become infected with the toxoplasma parasite. T. gondii presents more of a threat to pregnant women and people with a weakened immune system. In its earliest stages, the illness causes flu-like symptoms, and if severe, can cause damage to the brain, eyes and other organs. In the US, T. gondii is responsible for more than 4,000 hospitalizations and 300 deaths annually, ranking it fourth among food pathogens.
The pig tapeworm, cysticercosis, is particularly common in Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Latin America. In some areas it is believed that up to 25% of people are affected. The ancient knowledge of tapeworms in pigs may be one of the reasons for pig flesh being forbidden by Jewish and Islamic dietary laws. People may have little or no symptoms for years. Some parasites affects the brain and can have neurological symptoms. In developing countries this is one of the most common causes of seizures.(1055)
Sarcocystis is a genus of protozoa related to toxoplasma and eimeria. They are parasites infecting mammals, reptiles and birds. Four different species can infect cattle, sheep, and pig and infection is very common. The infection rate in sheep is above 90%, and it is over 80% in cattle and goats. Ingesting infected animal flesh can lead to anorexia, nausea, abdominal pain, distension, diarrhea, vomiting, dyspnoea and tachycardia. Symptoms may last as long as five years. Infection by Taeniasis is due to eating cysts in poorly cooked pig carcass. Treating those with taeniasis and other parasites is important to prevent their spread, but many people go untreated.(1056)