Your Meat On Drugs

We can't taste antibiotics or hormones, but most meat-eaters in the US consume them every day.

Several different drugs have been found in the grain-based feeds given to animals grown in confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) including
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Tranquilizers
  • Cardiac stimulant drugs
  • Anti-parasitic medications
  • Growth-promoting hormones
  • Sex hormones estradiol, progesterone, and testosterone
  • Antibiotics like penicillin and gentamicin

A report from the Office of Inspector General, part of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), found that violations among meat producers are rampant (4 plants had more than 200 violations) and acknowledged that consuming residues of drugs in meat "could result in stomach, nerve, or skin problems."

Meat from CAFOs has also been found to be contaminated with antibiotic resistant bacteria. According to an analysis of data from the FDA by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, 80 percent of all antibiotics sold in the United States are used on cattle, pigs and poultry. The over-use of antibiotics in animals has greatly contributed to the rise of "superbugs" and antibiotic resistance in humans, which has become a major health crisis. Antibiotics fed to animals are even turning up in plant foods when crops are treated with manure from CAFOs.

Several other chemicals and contaminants have been found in grain-based animal feeds including
  • Artificial flavors
  • Heavy metals 
  • Industrial waste
  • Genetically modified organisms
  • Pesticides

Pesticides in meat have been linked to other health problems including hormone imbalances, weight gain, imbalances in intestinal flora, problems with digestion, and in children, cognitive and behavioral problems.

And according to the American Academy of Environmental Medicine, "several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with genetically modified food consumption including infertility, immune dysregulation, accelerated aging, dysregulation of genes associated with cholersterol synthesis, insulin regulartion, cell signaling, and protein formation, and changes in the liver, kidney, spleen, and gastrointestinal system."

When we consume meat, milk, or eggs from grain-fed animals, the chemicals in their bodies become chemicals in our bodies. Bacteria may be neutralized by cooking but the other chemicals aren’t and even the USDA warns that these “residues may produce toxic or allergic reactions.”

Avoid grain-fed animal products and choose grass-fed and pasture-raised meats instead. Animals raised on pasture aren't routinely given drugs or grain-based feeds contaminated with chemicals. Because they eat their natural diet, they're naturally healthy and they don't need drugs.

Healthier animals produce healthier products. Compared to grain-fed animal products, those from grass-fed and pasture-raised animals have been found to contain more carotenoids (precursors to vitamin A), vitamin E, antioxidants like glutathione, and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a polyunsaturated fat found to protect against cancer.

They also have a more natural fatty acid profile similar to what we see in wild animals including more anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats and fewer pro-inflammatory omega-6 fats.

Find grass-fed and pasture-raised meats, eggs, and dairy products at your local farmers' market and grocery stores like Trader Joe's and Whole Foods. 


Andersson A.M. and Skakkebaek N.E. 1999. Exposure to exogenous estrogens in food: possible impact on human development and health. European Journal of Endocrinology 140(6):477-85.

Center for Science in the Public Interest. 2012. Antibiotic Resistance in Foodborne Pathogens: Evidence of the Need for a Risk Management Strategy. Available at:

Cimitile M. 2009. Crops Absorb Livestock Antibiotics, Science Shows. Environmental Health News. Available at: (accessed 6 July 2012).

Consumer Reports. 2012. Meat on Drugs. Available at (accessed 6 September 2012).

Daley C.A. et al. 2010. A review of fatty acid profiles and antioxidant content in grass-fed and grain-fed beef. Nutrition Journal 9:10.

Elliott CT et al. 1993. Effective laboratory monitoring for the abuse of the beta-agonist clenbuterol in cattle. The Analyst 118(4):447-8.

Epstein S.S. 1990. The chemical jungle: today's beef industry. International Journal of Health Services 20(2):277-80.

Gilbert N. 2012. Cost of human-animal disease greatest for world's poor. Nature doi:10.1038/nature.2012.10953.

Li Y et al. 2005. A survey of selected heavy metal concentrations in Wisconsin dairy feeds. Journal of Dairy Science 88(8):2911-22.

United States Department of Agriculture. 2010. Food Safety and Inspection Service National Residue Program for Cattle. Available at:

The Healthiest Chocolate

Cacao beans are one of the richest natural sources of antioxidants. Traditionally they are roasted, fermented and crushed to make chocolate liquor, which is separated into cocoa butter and cocoa mass, which is crushed into cocoa powder. These components, in varying amounts, are used to make chocolate.

Compounds like polyphenols, flavonols, proanthocyanidins, and catechins in cocoa powder have been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, heart attack, stroke, and cancer, so the healthiest chocolates have the highest cocoa content.

When you're selecting chocolate, it's essential to read labels and scrutinize ingredients. Here are some things to look for:
  • Pick chocolate that is 72% to 85% dark. The darker the chocolate, the higher the concentration of cocoa powder (and the more bitter the flavor).
  • The only fat should come from cocoa butter. Avoid chocolates with added oils and hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated ingredients of any kind.
  • Choose chocolates that list cocoa powder, cocoa mass, chocolate liquor, and/or cocoa butter before sugar.
  • Avoid products that contain corn syrup, agave, or artificial sweeteners.
  • Avoid chocolate that conatins additives like emulsifiers, stabilizers, and preservatives.
  • Avoid chocolate that contains Dutch-process or alkalinized cocoa powder. 
Dutch-process or alkalinized cocoa powder is made from cacao beans that have been treated with an alkalizing agent to neutralize natural acidity. Some manufacturers favor Dutch-process or alkalinized cocoa powder because it is more soluble, milder in flavor, and darker in color. But because alkalizing agents destroy healthy antioxidants, always opt for chocolate made with natural unprocessed and unsweetened cocoa powder instead.

Enjoy dark chocolate by itself, pair it with red wine, or use it to make Dark Chocolate Cranberry Clusters.


Lewis J et al. 2010. Habitual chocolate intake and vascular disease: A prospective study of clinical outcomes in older women. Archives of Internal Medicine 170:1857.

Grassi D., Lippi C., Necozione S., Desideri G., and Ferri C. 2005. Short-term administration of dark chocolate is followed by a significant increase in insulin sensitivity and a decrease in blood pressure in healthy persons. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 81(3):611-4.

Grassi D., Necozione S., Lippi C., Croce G., Valeri L., Pasqualetti P., et al. 2005. Cocoa reduces blood pressure and insulin resistance and improves endothelium-dependent vasodilation in hypertensives. Hypertension 46(2):398-405.

Preventing Holiday Weight Gain

Many believe that gaining weight is inevitable during the holidays but I disagree. In case you missed my blog on vitamin D and weight loss, here are my top five tips for preventing weight gain during the holidays.

# 1  Get daily sun exposure but not enough to cause sunburn, preferably in the early morning hours, and take 800 to 1200 IU of vitamin D3 daily. Higher doses can carry side effects and so far research studies don't show bigger benefits.

# 2  Exercise regularly, even when you're busy. If you'll be traveling, take your athletic shoes along so you can exercise anywhere, even if you only have time for a brisk 30-minute walk.

# 3  Eat protein, healthy fat, and fiber at every meal.

# 4  Minimize your intake of sweets, starches, caffeine, and alcohol.

# 5  Get plenty of sleep and keep a regular schedule as much as you can.

Once the holidays are over, schedule an appointment with your naturopathic doctor to address the environmental aspects of weight gain.

More than 400 chemicals from the environment have been found in human blood and fat tissue and many of them have been linked to weight gain and obesity, as well as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disease, infertility, depression, Alzheimer's disease, and even cancer.

Let your naturopathic doctor tailor a detox program to meet your individual needs and help you achieve your weight loss goals.

Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food

In their book, Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food, Dr. Catherine Shanahan and Luke Shanahan delve into one of the most fascinating scientific developments to happen during my lifetime: Epigenetics. How the environment changes genetic expression. The idea that the human genome is dynamic and constantly adapting. The implication that we can control the health of our genes.

One way that we can control the health of our genes is through food. Shanahans explain that "food is like a language, an unbroken information stream that connects every cell in your body to an aspect of the natural world. The better the source and the more undamaged the message when it arrives to your cells, the better your health will be."

In this book you'll learn why organ meats were the "original vitamin supplements" (page 72), why children are best spaced four years apart (page 94), how sugar can cause birth defects (page 207), and why "every bite you eat changes your genes a little bit" (page 21).

It's a fascinating read and makes a good gift.