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Please consider the No Fours Diet

SUMMARY: I have given the name "No Fours Diet" to designate a diet where someone eats fish, poultry, eggs, fruits and vegetables, but no meat from four legged animals - cows, sheep, pigs, etc. I turns out this diet may have extraordinary health benefits. This is a special message from Nutrition Investigator, because I have just become aware of a major discovery with terrifying implications about what we should eat.  I have included links to peer-reviewed publications reporting these results and additional quotations from the articles you can read at my web site. MODIFICATION IN 2012: There is so much benefit to eating yogurt and to a high protein diet that can use cheese that I am modifying my own diet to include those. Yogurt and cheese have substantially less sialic acid than 4=legged meat, as shown in this table. At the Linus Pauling meetings the benefits of yogurt and cheese are praised. Research on the microbiota of a healthy intestine shows the benefits of eating fermented foods. And they contain so little lactose that the intolerance of a substantial percentage of adults still makes them acceptable. So I now avoid 4 legged meat, but yogurt and cheese are fine.

The brief message:  Eating four-legged meat may be a significant cause of long-term human illness.  Only beef, pork, lamb, and other four legged animals produce a molecule called sialic acid.  When humans eat such meat, our cells incorporate this molecule and insert it into our cell membranes, so it sticks out like an antigen of the cell surface.  This antigen binds toxic bacteria, it causes inflammation, and “makes humans more susceptible to a variety of diseases”. 

Fortunately, poultry and fish, not to mention fruits and vegetables, do not contain sialic acid.  However, “no red meats, milk products, or lanolin shampoos” should be avoided.  If you cannot give up meat entirely, eating less  of it and eating it less often will help.  My impression is that the sialic acid is degraded over time.

Note the major causes of long-term chronic diseases like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, etc. are believed to be free radicals and inflammation. Sialic acid residues, foreign molecules waving outside our cells, could dramatically increase both of those events, contributing to chronic inflammmation and free radical production.

Organic meats are leaner and have 5x the omega-3s. (link: organic, meat; source: organic newsletter; added 6/2009)

Please also read this email on the choice between Dairy and No Fours.


1. To see the structure and evolutionary tree of sialic acid, click here.

2. The initial story that alerted me to this is here:
Science (2008) 322: 659 - 661
SELF-EXPERIMENTATION: Eat, Drink, and Be Wary: A Sugar's Sour Side - Jon Cohen

" Neu5Gc, which is also known as a sialic acid, is made by chimpanzees and many other mammals but not humans, and Varki's group earlier had found the genetic mutation that prevents us from making it. Varki suspected that when we are exposed to Neu5Gc, it incorporates into our cells, where it somehow makes humans more susceptible to a variety of diseases… Varki reasoned that Neu5Gc could enter humans through food that contains it, such as red meat and milk products… To establish a baseline, Varki restricted what he put in or on his body for 2 days before the experiment: no red meats, milk products, or lanolin shampoos, all of which contain Neu5Gc… they published in the 14 October 2003 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "There's no other example I know of where you eat something foreign that outfoxes the biochemical systems and becomes part of you, no different from molecules made in your body," Varki says… This week, Nature is publishing a new study online, led by Varki and two teams of researchers in Australia, that strongly ties Neu5Gc to a human disease and ingestion of red meat. "It's a very concrete example of how our susceptibility to disease might be governed by our diet,"

3. The Nature article on which that story is based is here: Nature advance online publication 29 October 2008

Incorporation of a non-human glycan mediates human susceptibility to a bacterial toxin, Ajit Varki et al

" AB5 toxins comprise an A subunit that corrupts essential eukaryotic cell functions, and pentameric B subunits that direct target-cell uptake after binding surface glycans… Thus a bacterial toxin's receptor is generated by metabolic incorporation of an exogenous factor derived from food."

4. Good Blog about Sialic acid with this important point: Levels are very low or undetectable in fruits, vegetables, hen’s eggs, poultry and fish.


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