A molecule that makes the immune system think our body has been invaded is absorbed into our bodies when we eat red meat and milk products. Despite this, we?ve been eating meat and rejecting fish every chance we?ve gotten since prehistoric days.

The molecular sugar called N-glycolylneuraminic acid (Neu5Gc), which is found in non-human mammals, occurs naturally in lamb, pork and beef. Researchers have found that eating red meat causes this molecule to become absorbed into our tissues. This can set off an immune response, since our bodies may see the molecule as an invader. They?ve also found small amounts of Neu5Gc in human cancer tissues, leading to the theory that eating red meat may eventually cause cancer.

But the biggest problem is with organ transplants. Researcher Ajit Varki says, “Over the past decade, the number of patients waiting for organ transplantation has more than tripled, with little increase in the number of donor organs. This has led to an exploration of using animal organs for transplantation into humans, a process called xenotransplantation. However, the leading donor candidate is the pig, an animal in which Neu5Gc happens to be very common. The current study raises the possibility that human antibodies against Neu5Gc might recognize the Neu5Gc in the pig organ and facilitate its rejection.”

Despite this, scientists have discovered that Stone Age man stopped eating fish and started eating meat as soon as he could. “In Britain [meat eating] happened very quickly, in a generation or two,” says researcher Michael Richards. “We had expected to find a gradual switchover, but this was a virtual dietary revolution.”

Richards studied the change in diet during the Neolithic period between 5,200 and 4,500 years ago, when even people who live next to the sea switched to meat if they could. “Out went the marine foods and instead we find a wholesale switch to other meats. We have found huge quantities of cattle bones as well as pigs in the settlements from this period,” he says.

“It was a complete dietary makeover. We have no evidence that there were suddenly no fish in the sea. The people simply stopped eating fish.”

We are what we eat?are we what we listen to as well? There?s a lot of music out there that?s composed to inspire hate, but there?s also music that heals.

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