Wednesday, February 10, 2016

RePrint - The importance of what your food eats

This is a great article, we have reprinted here in entirety instead of just a link, becasue it is so good.  The link to the original article is :

Alchemists and Animals – The Importance of What Your Food Eats


Alchemists and Animals – The Importance of What Your Food Eats

The Alchemist Chicken

During the Integrative Health Conference in New York City several years back, I participated in a debate regarding the optimal human diet – vegan, paleo, or Mediterranean. During this debate, Dr. David Perlmutter, author of Grain Brain,used the term the alchemist cow. He was referring to cows that are fed a poor diet, given antibiotics, and stuffed in a small space – yet we somehow believe that their milk and meat would still be as healthy as a cow that is raised appropriately. Click here for the entire debate.

Alchemy is the ancient practice of trying to transform metals into gold. Even the mega-genius Isaac Newton thought that he could perform alchemy. However, as he and others found out, it does not work.
We cannot make gold out of nothing. We cannot feed animals garbage and treat them poorly and expect them to magically be healthy.
When contextualizing to humans, the difference in health between a stressed out person, stuffed in a cubicle at work, never exercising, never sleeping well, and never eating versus a stress-free, healthy counterpart, the health differences become obvious.  Yet, why do we ignore this when it comes to animals?
Enter Tina and Cassandra…

Tina and Cassandra

Meet Tina. Tina lives in an empty 300 square foot apartment. Tina’s cubical at his work is so small that her elbows touch each wall and her head is a couple of feet from the ceiling. Tina is part of typical corporate America and her boss screams at her all day long causing her to be stressed. Tina’s constant level of stress causes the habitual release of a hormone called cortisol – often called the stress hormone – which causes her blood sugar to skyrocket many times throughout the day.1 Tina’s body is frequently releasing many catecholamines (like adrenaline) that are linked to an increased risk of experiencing a heart attack, high blood pressure, and a stroke. The barrage of cortisol puts her at an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, cognitive impairment, and a poorly functioning immune system.2
She sleeps terribly at night because of her stress level and is at an increased risk of cancer.3 To make matters worse, she is fed Boost and Ensure every day at work (link article), both foods that are quite foreign to her body.
All of these issues leave Tina sick quite often. She has to take antibiotics regularly, and sometimes even gets antibiotic-resistant infections. She has even been given hormones to help build some muscle on her paltry frame.
Man, Tina’s life stinks.

Meet Cassandra. Cassandra lives on a 15-acre plot of land. She sleeps well and wakes up with the sun. She actually works at home taking care of the land. She also finds food on the land around her home, which she freely roams. The majority of her day is spent running around this land. There is much vegetation around Cassandra’s home and she gets her daily vitamins and nutrients through her healthy diet and she even finds time to hunt. Sometimes she has to supplement it in the winter, but this is a last resort. The animals around her property provide her with the fat, protein, and nutrients she needs.
Cassandra gets stressed here and there, as we all do. However, overall she leads a very happy life. She exercises everyday by walking around freely. She rarely gets sick and has a strong immune system.
Man, Cassandra’s life is awesome.

Meet Tina and Cassandra

Tina and Cassandra are actually chickens. Tina is stuffed in a cage for her life, as she lives in a confined animal feeding operation (CAFO). She can barely move, eats unnatural foods, and is constantly stressed, secreting hormones like cortisol into her eggs and meat. Much like a stressed human mother, her offspring are unhealthy.
Tina spends all her life stuffed in her "cubicle." Image courtesy of koko-tewan at
Tina spends all her life stuffed in her “cubicle.” Image courtesy of koko-tewan at
Each and every day of Tina’s life is pretty terrible…

Cassandra, on the other hand, lives in a farm where she is raised on pasture. In other words, she runs around picking insects out of the ground and eating grass – her normal diet.
Cassandra spending a tyical day running around and foraging. Image courtesy of suwatpo at
Cassandra spending a typical day running around and foraging. Image courtesy of suwatpo at
Cassandra’s life is pretty awesome. Cassandra health is pretty awesome. The eggs that Cassandra lays are pretty awesome too.

Whether It Is Chickens or People

Few people give thought to Tina and Cassandra when they are buying eggs at the grocery store. Tina’s eggs are obviously much cheaper, as we would expect. It is much cheaper to stuff Tina in a cage and feed her unnatural food than to let her run around eating worms and insects, some grass, and the occasional supplemental feed.
Along these lines, it is also much easier to push Tina and Cassandra to the back of your head, forget about them and Tina’s cruel and unhealthy upbringing, and pay $1.66 for a dozen of Tina’s less healthy eggs from her less healthy body.

Tina and Cassandra’s Eggs

Much like Tina and Cassandra’s health, their eggs are very different from each another. While this seems quite obvious after reading about their daily lifestyle, the differences can be remarkable.

Cassadra’s pastured eggs contain:
  1. Double the amount of vitamin E than Tina’s eggs
  2. Double the amount of healthy omega-3 fatty acids
  3. 38% more vitamin A

Tina’s eggs, on the other hand, contain significantly more inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids.4
Much like Tina’s life, Tina’s eggs stink in comparison to Cassandra’s.

Tina’s eggs also contain a much higher ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids. In other words, Cassandra’s eggs have much more anti-inflammatory omega-3s, while Tina’s have significantly more omega-6’s. The ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 is closer to 4:1 or 1:1, which is what our ancestors consumed for thousands of years.5 A high ratio of omega-6 to omega-3s is associated with an increased risk of diseases like prostate cancer6 and significantly higher amounts of autoimmune disease, inflammation, and circulating inflammatory factors.5,7
Cassandra’s eggs also look better with their deep golden-hued yolks. They taste better too. They are a great addition to healthy bone broth (LINK BONE BROTH) and a healthy part of the diet.
Much like Cassandra’s life, her eggs are healthy and fulfilling.

Tina’s Effect On Us

While it is obvious that the meat and eggs of our chickens strongly depend on the environment where they are raised, the resultant effect on our body is no different. And if the information above is not enough to get you to consider what you eat, then perhaps this information will change your mind.
Eating eggs from pastured chickens and those with high omega-3 fatty acid feeds result in:
  1. 22.4% more vitamin E within blood values
  2. 55% more carotenoids in the blood
  3. Decreased serum C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of inflammation.8

CAFO eggs, on the other hand, increase oxidized LDL cholesterol (cholesterol bound with free radicals) which is a major risk of heart disease and cancer. One researcher has gone as far as stating that omega-3 eggs “provide protection against oxidative stress, inflammation, and acute effects of high glycemic load” with “a unique capacity to transform and concentrate protective nutrients.”9 In other words, healthy eggs are nutrient-dense foods that help fight inflammation and provide significant health benefit.

The (Non) Cost Differential

A common excuse to buy less healthy and less ethical eggs is the difference in cost. Right now eggs cost $1.66 per dozen in New York, while eggs from pastured hens cost anywhere from $4.99-6.99. The price is clearly higher and this is certainly a sensitive issue for those families with a limited budget. Eggs are still an incredibly healthy food, and I would not eliminate them based on the information above.
Yet, for those of us that eat 1-2 dozen per week the difference in price comes out to about $256 per year, or half the price of an iPhone, two months of cable television, or two expensive dinners. Many of us can certainly find this money from entertainment spending or other less essential costs throughout the week. Pastured eggs are also larger, more flavorful, and more nutrient-dense, so including nutrition-per-dollar likely leaves that $256 as significantly less.
For those of us with farmer’s markets around, pastured eggs are even cheaper. This may take a little more time and effort, but we can use the time saved from cancelling our cable (along with all the extra cash…). This also follows “voting with our wallets.” If we continue to buy ethical pastured eggs instead of the less healthy confined eggs, prices may begin to accommodate the consumer.

The Alchemist Animal

It is time to think about Tina and Cassandra when shopping at the grocery store or local farmer’s market for chicken or any animal products. The push for ethical and more natural foods may be more expensive, but it may be hard to put a price on the health benefits for us and ethical benefits for the animals.
As Tina knows, there are no alchemist chickens.


  1. Smyth J, Ockenfels MC, Porter L, Kirschbaum C, Hellhammer DH, Stone AA. Stressors and Mood Measured on a Momentary Basis are Associated With Salivary Cortisol Secretion. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 1998;23(4):353-370. doi:10.1016/S0306-4530(98)00008-0.
  2. Lundberg U. Stress hormones in health and illness: the roles of work and gender. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2005;30(10):1017-1021. doi:10.1016/j.psyneuen.2005.03.014.
  3. Blask DE. Melatonin, sleep disturbance and cancer risk. Sleep Med Rev. 2009;13(4):257-264.
  4. Karsten HD, Patterson PH, Stout R, Crews G. Vitamins A, E and fatty acid composition of the eggs of caged hens and pastured hens. Renew Agric Food Syst. 2010;25(01):45. doi:10.1017/S1742170509990214.
  5. A.P S. The importance of the ratio of omega-6/omega-3 essential fatty acids. Biomed & Pharmacother. 2002;56(8):365-379. doi:10.1016/s0753-3322(02)00253-6.
  6. Williams CD, Whitley BM, Hoyo C, et al. A high ratio of dietary n-6/n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids is associated with increased risk of prostate cancer. Nutr Res. 2011;31(1):1-8. doi:10.1016/j.nutres.2011.01.002.
  7. Simopoulos AP. Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Inflammation and Autoimmune Diseases. J Am Coll Nutr. 2002;21(6):495-505.
  8. Burns-Whitmore B, Sapwarobol S, Haddad E, Sabate J, Rajaram S. N-3 Fatty Acid Enriched Egg Decreases C-Reactive Protein in Healthy Adults. FASEB J. 2007;21(6):A740 – b – . Accessed February 6, 2016.
  9. Shapira N. Not all eggs are created equal: the effect on health depends on the composition. Can J Cardiol. 2011;27(2):264.e5; 264.e7-e8. doi:10.1016/j.cjca.2010.11.010.

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