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Grain vs Grass

By Marcus | In Nutrition | on September 5, 2012

Ruth mentioned the movie Food Inc. in her review back in December 2009, and I made sure to also watch the eye-opening documentary. I cannot recommend it highly enough to people to start them down the path of questioning where exactly their food comes from.  One of the most attention-grabbing scenes is that of a cow that has a hole into it’s stomach, while a researcher explains that acid-resistant E. coli thrive due to a corn-based diet for the cow. This pathogen, E. coli, makes the news regularly when a meat supply has been contaminated. When cattle are fed grass, they do not exhibit this same level of E. coli.

One may wonder if the cattle itself is negatively affected by being corn-fed, aside from the E. coli outbreaks. Whole9 recently posted a link to a study that found that yes, grain-based diets are bad stuff, indeed:

“Dairy cows are often fed high grain diets to meet the energy demand for high milk production or simply due to a lack of forages at times. As a result, ruminal acidosis, especially subacute ruminal acidosis (SARA), occurs frequently in practical dairy production. When SARA occurs, bacterial endotoxin (or lipopolysaccharide, LPS) is released in the rumen and the large intestine in a large amount. Many other bacterial immunogens may also be released in the digestive tract following feeding dairy cows diets containing high proportions of grain. LPS can be translocated into the bloodstream across the epithelium of the digestive tract, especially the lower tract, due to possible alterations of permeability and injuries of the epithelial tissue. As a result, the concentration of blood LPS increases. Immune responses are subsequently caused by circulating LPS… Entry of LPS into blood can also result in metabolic alterations. Blood glucose and nonesterified fatty acid concentrations are enhanced accompanying an increase of blood LPS after increasing the amount of grain in the diet, which adversely affects feed intake of dairy cows. As the proportions of grain in the diet increase, patterns of plasma β-hydoxybutyric acid, cholesterol, and minerals (Ca, Fe, and Zn) are also perturbed. The bacterial immunogens can also lead to reduced supply of nutrients for synthesis of milk components and depressed functions of the epithelial cells in the mammary gland. The immune responses and metabolic alterations caused by circulating bacterial immunogens will exert an effect on milk production.”

Dallas of Whole9 put the above into layman’s terms in a subsequent comment on the post:

“Even more than [making the milk bad], feeding grains to dairy cows makes them SICK. Meat (or milk) from unhealthy animals is in no way health-promoting.”

When weighing the costs of grain-fed vs grass-fed meat, think to yourself whether you would eat meat from an animal you knew to be sick. Here is a link to another blog that posts a nice round-up of grass- vs grain-fed if you want to dig further (and I hope you do!).


WOD 09.05.12

Press 3×5 (or Wendler)

Then, for time:

  • 30 Box Jumps
  • Run 400m
  • 30 Burpees
  • Run 400m
  • 60 Double-unders
  • Run 400m

2 Comments to "Grain vs Grass"

  • Sara says:

    September 5, 2012 at 9:14 AM -

    That darn SARA, always causing trouble!! Geesh!

  • Sara says:

    September 5, 2012 at 9:15 AM -

    Oh SARA, always causing trouble!! Geesh!

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