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Endotoxins in food

Answered on July 26, 2015
Created July 30, 2012 at 8:32 PM

Endotoxins (aka lipopolysaccharides) are part of the membrane of gram negative bacteria and they have some toxic effects in the body. I've been hearing a new pro-vegan argument that animal products tend to have more endotoxins than plants and this is bad because dietary endotoxins will get into your blood and cause damage.

So my questions is...

1) What foods have the greatest content of endotoxins?

2) Are dietary endotoxins really so bad?

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19235)

on August 01, 2012
at 03:33 PM

He makes persuasive videos but they are all rather distorted by his ideology.

4ef079c57d2140bba4dbf4e30240a645

(4413)

on August 01, 2012
at 06:58 AM

Thank you Mscott.

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on August 01, 2012
at 06:32 AM

Love Lucas, thanks for the awesome link.

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on August 01, 2012
at 06:31 AM

Thanks Matthew, this is a great answer.

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on August 01, 2012
at 06:27 AM

This guy for example (you can skip to 8:00): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=30gEiweaAVQ

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on August 01, 2012
at 06:23 AM

This guy, for example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=30gEiweaAVQ&t=8m1s

4ef079c57d2140bba4dbf4e30240a645

(4413)

on August 01, 2012
at 01:51 AM

If you have a leaky gut then you have to worry about almost anything....

4ef079c57d2140bba4dbf4e30240a645

(4413)

on August 01, 2012
at 01:51 AM

Mscott who is making that claim?

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on July 31, 2012
at 06:49 PM

This is what I suspected. So do you think someone should worry about dietary endotoxins if they have a messed up gut?

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on July 31, 2012
at 06:37 PM

I don't think animal products have more bacteria, but (as stated in the question) I have heard that claim made recently. I wanted to know if there was evidence for or against that statement so I asked question 1.

  • A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

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5 Answers

best answer

3
0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19235)

on July 31, 2012
at 09:27 PM

This is quite a complex question with very limited research behind it.

1) What foods have the greatest content of endotoxins?

Based on the very small number of published papers on this subject and the small number of foods tested the foods containing endotoxin were ground meat, yogurt, cheese, chocolate,ice cream, bread and precut bags of salad veg.

Milk did not contain any while fermented dairy did, probably due to amount of bacteria present.

Fresh meat did not contain any endotoxin while ground meat sometimes contained a lot due to its large surface area. Ground beef stored in the fridge for a week produced a lot of endotoxin as bacteria loves growing on meat.

Fresh salad and veg did not contain any endotoxin. Precut bagged salad when it is chopped up and stored opens up the tissues of the leaves and increases the surface area for bacterial growth.

2) Are dietary endotoxins really so bad?

This is hard to say at the moment. While increased intestinal permeability could increase the absorption of endotoxin they are also absorbed with fat in a healthy gut. There seems to be enough in some foods to cause an imflammatory response however it is also possible that other components of the diet like plant phytochemicals or soluble fibre may prevent their absorption.

People who are using this as a reason to avoid to avoid all animal products are being selective with their facts such as that milk and steak did not contain any endotoxin. The health effects of endotoxin from food is still uncertain.

I should emphasize again just how limited this research this is and that all this is based on the research of Dr Clett Erridge at the University of Leicester.

The capacity of foodstuffs to induce innate immune activation of human monocytes in vitro is dependent on food content of stimulants of Toll-like receptors 2 and 4.

Accumulation of stimulants of Toll-like receptor (TLR)-2 and TLR4 in meat products stored at 5 ??C.

Stimulants of Toll-like receptor (TLR)-2 and TLR-4 are abundant in certain minimally-processed vegetables.

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on August 01, 2012
at 06:31 AM

Thanks Matthew, this is a great answer.

3
0a9ad4e577fe24a6b8aafa1dd7a50c79

on July 31, 2012
at 12:52 AM

These things are only an issue if you have gut damage. In a healthy individual, your body will be able to deal with stuff like this.

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on July 31, 2012
at 06:49 PM

This is what I suspected. So do you think someone should worry about dietary endotoxins if they have a messed up gut?

4ef079c57d2140bba4dbf4e30240a645

(4413)

on August 01, 2012
at 01:51 AM

If you have a leaky gut then you have to worry about almost anything....

2
Fab409ac4a30957e3ed508514f7bff02

(295)

on August 01, 2012
at 01:47 AM

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on August 01, 2012
at 06:32 AM

Love Lucas, thanks for the awesome link.

1
361e96d70d6d3b91d63f6ad975e60ab6

(840)

on July 31, 2012
at 12:19 AM

The endotoxins you are describing are from bacteria. Whether or not endotoxins are 'bad', this implies more bacteria more endotoxins. What makes you (or vegans) think animal products have more bacteria than vegetable products?

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on August 01, 2012
at 06:23 AM

This guy, for example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=30gEiweaAVQ&t=8m1s

4ef079c57d2140bba4dbf4e30240a645

(4413)

on August 01, 2012
at 06:58 AM

Thank you Mscott.

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on July 31, 2012
at 06:37 PM

I don't think animal products have more bacteria, but (as stated in the question) I have heard that claim made recently. I wanted to know if there was evidence for or against that statement so I asked question 1.

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19235)

on August 01, 2012
at 03:33 PM

He makes persuasive videos but they are all rather distorted by his ideology.

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on August 01, 2012
at 06:27 AM

This guy for example (you can skip to 8:00): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=30gEiweaAVQ

4ef079c57d2140bba4dbf4e30240a645

(4413)

on August 01, 2012
at 01:51 AM

Mscott who is making that claim?

0
53191a42bdf6f91234c0599e6f366b65

on July 26, 2015
at 06:09 AM

It is only Gram negative bacteria that contain endotoxins, not all bacteria. The main place you find lots of Gram negative bacteria is in the faeces of animals. In abbatoirs these can easily contaminate the meat. Chicken processors tend to throw a lot of unclean (gut contaminated) tissues into a big slurry of chicken parts ready to chill, it all gets covered in gram negs, the chill slows down the growth but definitely does not eliminate it. I would not eat any chicken which has been mass processed in this way.

Vegetables and fruit can get contaminated from animal byproduct compost used to grow the plants.

The phytochemicals in plants may inhibit absorbtion of endotoxin in your meal to some extent, saturated fats are known to increase it's absorbtion. Basically a ground meat burger with cheese is going to send endotoxin into you.

The effect of this is to cause chronic low grade inflammation of your blood vessel lining endothelium, measurable by your hs-CRP ( high sensitivity C-reactive protein, a measure of a protein your body produces as part of the inflammation reaction). The hs-CRP is a very strong predictor of cardio-vascular disease (heart attack, stroke, losing circulation to toes etc). This test is now available from some routine labs, you can ask your doctor to check your level.

Anyway, stay away from mince meat unless you mince it yourself at home and then cook immediately. Good idea to eat any meat as fresh as possible, endotoxins rise significantly long before it 'smells a bit doubtful'. So don't eat meat which has been 'hung' to make it more tender, it is bacterial action which makes it more tender, hence lots of endotoxins.

In summary the mass processed food industry is not there to deliver a healthy product like our ancestors evolved eating, but a profitable product. If you go to a butcher who knows the farmer and the supply chain and can guarantee meat not held too long in storage etc, ideally grass fed not cereal fed beef etc, then this is the best way to go...

or catch it and kill it yourself :-)

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