Ask the Trainer: More About the Foods We Eat
DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES — Howdy folks, I hope everybody got my point earlier this week. It is scary to think that 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women will get cancer in their lifetime and in 85% of the time it is because of lifestyle choices. I say no more, let’s end this needless trend now.
I was talking to someone at a birthday party this weekend and we were discussing health issues. They said that we are all going to die of something someday, so we should eat whatever we want and have fun doing it. I politely disagreed and added that what we do now with our health determines our exit from this world.
We are all building up health credits in life (or expending them rapidly), like saving money by putting it into the bank, on a continual basis. I prefer to die in my sleep of old age rather than from a protracted battle with cancer.
I decided to continue the discussion that I started last week about “Cancer Prevention”. This subject, I feel, requires additional consideration given the scope of its involvement in our lives.
Red and Processed Meats
The link between colorectal cancer and high consumption of red and processed meat has been established through studies conducted by the National Institute of Health and a number of European studies. The researchers concluded that red-meat eaters had a 28 to 30% increased risk of colorectal cancer and a 20% increased risk with processed meat eaters.
N-nitroso and Meat Consumption
Processed meats like bacon, hot dogs, sausage, and bologna contain nitrites that are added to preserve and color meat. N-nitroso compounds, which are known to cause cancer in laboratory animals, form in meat when amines and amides (found in protein) interact with nitrite additives.
N-nitroso compounds increase in the body after the consumption of red meat, which researchers concluded was due to the meat’s heme iron (red meat gets its color from heme iron). Non-heme iron (found in leafy greens, beans and grains) did not increase the presence of N-nitroso compounds.
Meat Cooked at High Temperatures
Cooking meat at high temperatures like grilling causes changes in the DNA of the meat (mutagen), which can lead to cancer. Mutagens are broken into two classes, heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). HCAs are formed when meat cooks to a crusty brown. PAHs are from fat that falls on the fire and is heated and carried back to the meat via the smoke.
The environmental consequences of consuming beef and pork are staggering. In the 2006 report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), it was found that current production levels of meat contribute between 14 and 22 percent of the 36 billion tons of “CO2-equivalent” greenhouse gases the world produces every year. That is more than the emissions from transportation in this country.
Livestock production accounts for 70% of all agricultural land and 30% of the land surface of the planet. Producing half a pound of hamburger for someone's lunch - a patty the size of two decks of cards, releases as much greenhouse gas into the atmosphere as driving a 3,000-pound car nearly 10 miles.
The runoff from their excrement pollutes our streams and rivers. Large amounts of pesticides and fertilizer also wash into our streams and the energy to transport the livestock to market is crushing.
The Cancer and Environmental Resolution
In order for us to create a healthy planet with healthy humans on it, we need to make some major changes.
- Eat no more than the equivalent of 1 1/2 Quarter Pounders a week of red meat or processed meat of one hot dog every week or two
- Consume more fish and chicken, beans, nuts and soy products and grains
- Switch to nitrite free deli meats
A little change each day can have a huge impact if we all initiate it together.
That’s it folks. Check back later this week and I will answer an email from firstname.lastname@example.org.
Til next time—Exercise More, Play Hard, Work Smart.
Extreme Natural Fitness Trainer