As if there aren't enough reasons not to eat meat... According to New Scientist magazine, consuming red meat and dairy puts humans at risk from a rather nasty strain of e. coli. This particular strain attaches itself to a sugar molecule that humans can't produce, but is ingested when we consume meat and dairy products.
"This toxin originally evolved to attack cattle or some other animals," says Ajit Varki, an expert in molecular medicine at the University of California, San Diego, who was involved in the study. By eating the toxin's intended target we made ourselves vulnerable too, he says.
When unlucky meat-eaters ingest this particular E. coli strain, its toxin kills the cells that line the gut, eventually causing bloody diarrhoea, Varki says. It also heads for blood vessels and the kidneys.
"It's a sort of worst of all worlds if you're a human and you eat some of this stuff," says Paul Crocker, who investigates the biological role of sugars at the University of Dundee, UK. Animals that produce GC naturally have the sugar in blood serum, where it mops up the toxin and keeps it out of the gut.
Varki suggests that other ailments could also be due to GC from meat and dairy as the immune system mounts a response against it. "We think other diseases associated with red meat – cancer, heart attack and autoimmunity - may be explained by this ongoing reaction."
Source: New Scientist
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