In this article I want to look at how you can improve your health and increase testosterone with zoochemicals. These highly beneficial compounds are found in high quantities in animal foods. Before I do I’m going to go over some of the complaints people have about animal products and where they are coming from. I want to point out that people reading this will fall into two categories. You either have seen many of the arguments against animal products or you were completely unaware that many scientists and researchers truly believe people should not be eating animal products. If you are in the first group you can skip down to the bottom where I discuss some of the benefits of “zoochemicals” or the beneficial micronutrients found primarily in animal products. If you are unfamiliar with some of the supposed dangers of animal products continue reading this short primer so you can gain a base of understanding around the debate.
What People Are Saying About Animals
In the last few decades an increasingly large body of research has mounted against animal product consumption. Many people believe that high levels of certain micro and macronutrients such as fat and cholesterol are detrimental to human health. Other people point to high levels of concentrated proteins in animal products as being detrimental to human health. For example, many advocates of primarily plant based diets will argue that the proteins in animal products, when consumed in large quantities, cause an unusually large increase in IGF-1. As this peptide has been linked to numerous forms of cancer, its elevation has long been thought to signal an unhealthy shift in human physiology. This argument is based on the idea that it is unnatural for the human body to consume highly concentrated protein sources such as those found in animals.
Most of the arguments against animal product consumption revolve around the idea that the human body does not function optimally on a diet consisting of a large percentage of calories coming from animal products. As mentioned above elevated levels of IGF-1 are one of the chief complaints of researchers who eschew animal product consumption. They point to the relatively uncontrolled cell growth that is associated with heightened levels of this peptide as one of its most detrimental aspects. Many different cancers have been shown to be stimulated by chronically elevated levels of this peptide. An analogy that is often used to describe IGF-1’s effect on the proliferation of cancer is that of watering a garden. Advocates of lower protein diets say eating concentrated animal proteins in like pouring water on a garden. If you happen to have a genetically determined proclivity for a certain type of cancer, elevated IGF-1 is likened to pouring water on your “cancer” plant and causing its proliferation. Low protein diet advocates say uncontrolled animal product consumption is like watering a garden causing everything to grow.
While many people concerned with longevity believe heightened cell growth and metabolic turnover is dangerous, many people interested in performance feel very differently. Many bodybuilders and athletes have been known to inject IGF-1 as its part in anabolism is thought to enhance muscle growth and recovery from intense training. Most likely, elevated levels of IGF-1 are one of the reasons the idea of high protein diets has gained so much popularity. Diets high in protein, independent of calories, have been shown to elevate levels of IGF-1 and muscle growth. However as with any other hormone or macronutrient, there is a difference between the affects of acute vs. chronic elevation of IGF-1 with high protein diets. The regulatory systems of the body will in time down regulate its reception of IGF-1 and its response to continually high protein intake.
This seems like a good time to point out that the benefits and drawbacks of protein consumption are one of the reason Testshock relies on a balanced diet. My recommendations are shocking to people that ascribe to traditional bodybuilding and fitness media with protein recommendations hovering around 40% of calories. Similarly my recommendations would shock low protein advocates who believe that protein levels above 10% of calories and coming primarily from animal sources is equivalent to guaranteeing yourself a bed ridden life full of chemotherapy and misery. In my mind, occupying a neat middle ground with a recommended intake of protein starting around 20% seems about right. Though I don’t attempt to be a contrarian, the idea that I’m not in compliance with either of the two camps on the opposite extreme makes me even more confident with my recommendations. As with many things in life, the truth is usually found somewhere in the middle of to extremes.
Cholesterol is another component of animal products that causes quite a bit of controversy. Though additional evidence for the idea that cholesterol is regulated by the body is mounting, the idea that its levels are tied only to dietary consumption persists. This is one of the issues that big Pharma has enhanced our understanding of. In the industry’s never ending quest to research new drugs and create new patents they uncovered many interesting things about circulating levels of cholesterol in the body. One thing that became apparent through extensive research is that there are a number of factors that affect circulating levels of cholesterol, dietary intake being just one. The implications of this realization are that drug manufacturers would have to take a more nuanced approach toward their recommendations to drug consumers beyond just avoiding red meat and other high cholesterol foods. In order to get the affects they needed for advertising they would have to research what else could be affecting cholesterol levels as well as the differences between the different types of cholesterol.
Advanced research has led to many interesting insights about cholesterol including the importance of the balance between HDL and LDL as well as this ratios interaction with total cholesterol’s levels in predicting disease rates. While the details of this type of research are far beyond the scope of a blog post and my expertise, I can give a basic picture of some of the important takeaways. Continued research into cholesterol points to the idea that cholesterol levels can be altered by a number of factors including: nutritional status, sleep, stress, dietary intake as well as prescription drug use. The important point is that not eating animal products is not the only yes or no factor that affects cholesterol levels.
While there are many other issues associated with animal products, I wanted to point out a couple of the bigger ones. High cholesterol and IGF-1 levels are some of the most hotly debated issues when arguing against animal product consumption. In addition to the possible negative physiological reaction to animal product consumption, many people will argue against eating animals on a purely ethical basis. Many people feel that the consumption of animals is wrong. While I definitely believe in the humane treatment of animals I cannot agree with never eating them. Everything has a cause and effect and getting energy from one source cannot come at no expense. Whether this comes from an animal or a plant seems like it would make little difference in the grand scheme of things. What is more is that many people point to the idea that plants have a nervous system and even feelings as an argument against indiscriminate plant consumption. While I cannot say I completely agree with that view either, I do tend to consider both sides. Similar to the protein recommendations, the truth is probably found somewhere in between both arguments. Either way, I am going to stick with what the research says and focus most of the information on the physiological reactions to different foods.
Zoochemical: The Many Benefits of Eating Animal Products
Zoochemicals can be thought of in the same way as phytochemicals. Basically Zoochemicals are compounds other than the macronutrients, fats carbohydrates and proteins, found in animal foods. They are the beneficial compounds that are essential to the proper functioning of our bodies. Some examples of these chemicals include antioxidants such as Lutein, Zeazanthin, Linoleic Acid, Selenium, Copper, Vitamin C and E, Astaxanthin and Methionine. Other common animal derived zoochemicals include Amino Acids and Omega 3 fatty acids.
Zoochemicals facilitate a number of important processes in the body. For Example, Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce inflammation as well as the risk of blood clotting and platelet aggregation. Zoochemicals such as Lutein and Zeazanthin have been shown to improve eye health. Linoleic acid has even been shown to assist in preventing cancer. Beyond their disease prevention effects, zoochemicals have a number of performance enhancing benefits. The important point to note is that the majority of Zoochemicals are found in high concentrations only in animal products.
Most of the above listed zoochemicals can be found in a number of common animal sourced foods such as eggs, meat and seafood. You need not diversify your intake of these foods to any large degree to receive the majority of benefits of zoochemicals. It’s important to note that this recommendation is nothing new. Anthropologists studying the nutritional habits of primitive societies note that animals are basically eaten whenever they can be by nearly every type of society. Instances of vegetarianism are largely due to a lack of access to animal sources of nutrition. The types of foods that can provide the assortment of zoochemicals you need to receive the majority of benefits animal foods can offer is long. Simply pick a couple you enjoy end sprinkle them into your diet a few times a week. There is no need to get an unusually large amount of any of these foods. Getting enough animal based protein to make up around 20% of your total caloric intake is enough to get all the zoochemicals you need.
Another important thing to keep in mind when discussing the benefits of zoochemicals is that many of the chemicals are derived originally from plant based foods. An example is the Omega-3 fatty acids found in many animal products. These fatty acids are found in a number of plant foods in lower quantities. While these fatty acids can be found in highly concentrated forms in many types of seafood, they are also found in animals that subsist on plant foods rich in these fatty acids. By eating large quantities of these Omega-3 containing plant foods, the animals create concentrated sources of these fatty acids in their fat stores. These fatty acids are then available in a highly concentrated form in the tissue of these animals. This is just one example of a zoochemical that is indirectly derived from plant sources and is delivered in a more effective manner via animal foods. If you are still not convinced of the effectiveness of these zoochemicals you need not look any farther then studies on the body composition of people eating diets with or without meat.
The takeaway from this article should be pretty straight forward. In order to have a balanced diet, you should be including animal products into your meals pretty regularly. While there are definitely some valid reasons to abstain from animal products, allergies, moral reservations ect..,most TestShock readers should be able to include them in their diet. Even if you can’t, we came up with a way that you can celebrate the wonder of animals. The new limited edition TestShock T-shirts will be released in small quantities to select TestShock readers. One of the first batches will come out with the release of the new THOR training program small group coaching package. For everyone that is interested I will be opening up the doors to a limited number of guys on 08FEB16. For everyone else or for those of you reading this after that time, you will have to get aon my mailing list for further releases of the limited edition Ts.
Abrams, H.L. (1980). Vegetarianism: An anthropological/nutritional evaluation. J Appl Nutr; 32(2): 53-86.
Price, W. (2000). Nutrition and physical degeneration. Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation. La Mesa, CA.