Column #287     March 5, 2021Telomeres

You’ve got to be kidding me. Well, let’s examine the report titled “Unexpected Effect of Red Meat,” then let’s see what we think. First, let’s review the report’s opening quote and then I’ll provide a couple of definitions so we can understand how this works.

“Background: Repeated nucleotide sequences combined with proteins called telomeres cover chromosome ends and dictate cells’ lifespan. Many factors can modify telomere length, among them are: nutrition and smoking habits, physical activities and socioeconomic status measured by education level. The aim of the study was to determine the influence of above-mentioned factors on peripheral blood mononuclear cells telomere length.”1

If DNA is the building block of life, then the nucleotides are the building blocks of DNA. Nucleotides are organic compounds that make up nucleic acid, the substance that defines hereditary traits of all living organisms. Nucleotides are an essential part of DNA, RNA, and cell function, and they can serve many purposes depending on their structure and chemical compounds.2

Telomeres are the part of human cells that affect how cells age. They are the caps at the end of each strand of DNA that protect our chromosomes, like the plastic tips at the end of shoelaces. Without telomeres, DNA strands become damaged and our cells can’t do their job.3

Blood samples were drawn to measure the telomeres. Then the targeted DNA molecules were monitored, not at the conclusion of the test as in conventional PCR, but during the PCR amplification test. Then the data was statistically analyzed.

The diets of the subjects were determined by a simple questionnaire that listed a variety of food groups and drinks which were ranked with these six “frequency consumption groups”:
●    F0 never
●    F1 once weekly or less,
●    F2 once daily in 2–3 days of week,
●    F3 once daily in 4–6 days of week,
●    F4 1–2x daily (at least one meal),
●    F5 3–5x daily (every meal)

The findings were somewhat unexpected. There was no association in telomere length for eating breakfast or the number of meals eaten per day. Even the impact of smoking wasn’t measurable. It was only red meat consumption that was associated with longer telomeres. Since the study involved a small number of subjects, and the nutrient compositions of the various diets were only just estimates, the study’s conclusion was: “Although we found a relatively strong relationship, it should be treated as a guide for further research on a larger group of people.”

Needless to say, since red meat was the only real standout with its longer telomeres the assumption is that meat can lengthen people’s lives!

Unfortunately some people are still concerned about cholesterol levels and saturated fats in the diet. But they needn’t be. I can refer them to two research reports that discuss how “medical science” relied on misguided beliefs, rather than data, in its many decades-long vilifications of fat. The beliefs were based on what seemed to make sense. If you eat fat, you’ll get fat couldn’t be wrong many thought. But data proved them wrong. And the other myth was that eating saturated fats, the ones that can harden at room temperature, must be the fats that clog up arteries. That was misguided too. Independent papers by James J DiNicolantonio and Aseem Malhotra explain what modern biologists have discovered regarding fats. Both reports are easy to understand.4 5

Dr. DiNicolantonio sums his up the findings quite nicely:

“The potential harms of replacing saturated fat with carbohydrates
●    Increase in small, dense LDL particles.
●    Shift to an overall atherogenic lipid profile (lower HDL-C, increase in triglycerides and an increase in the ApoB/ApoA-1 ratio).
●    Smaller improvements in glucose tolerance, body fatness, weight, inflammation and thrombogenic markers.
●    Increased incidence of diabetes and obesity.

“The potential harms of replacing saturated fat with omega-6 polyunsaturated fats
●    Increased risk of cancer.
●    Increased risk of coronary heart disease, cardiovascular events, death due to heart disease and overall mortality.
●    Increased oxidised LDL-C.
●    Reduction in HDL-C.”

Yes, the medical community has been pushing myths for decades. Don’t you think it’s time to study the actual science and think for yourself? While you’re at it, have another helping of grass-fed beef for your better health.6

To your health.

Ted Slanker

Ted Slanker has been reporting on the fundamentals of nutritional research in publications, television and radio appearances, and at conferences since 1999. He condenses complex studies into the basics required for health and well-being. His eBook, The Real Diet of Man, is available online.

Don’t miss these links for additional reading:

1. The Relationship Between Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells Telomere Length and Diet - Unexpected Effect of Red Meat by Marek Kasielski1, et al.

2. Nucleoside and Nucleotide | Nucleic Acid by Devdutt Saha

3. What is a Telomere? from TA Sciences

4. The Cardiometabolic Consequences of Replacing Saturated Fats with Carbohydrates or Ù-6 Polyunsaturated Fats: Do the Dietary Guidelines Have it Wrong? by James J DiNicolantonio

5. Saturated Fat Is Not the Major Issue by Aseem Malhotra

6. Why Meat is Best for CVD by Ted Slanker