Archive for the tag - cancer

Benefits of Eating Less Red Meat.

Back in December, I shared my resolution for the upcoming new year: To limit my consumption of red meat to two meals (or less) per week.

Since we’re more than halfway through the year, I wanted to share an update on my progress. I’m proud to say that despite my shoddy New Year’s resolution track record, this is one commitment that I’ve managed to keep. In fact, I’ve decreased my red meat consumption from nearly daily to once or twice per month.

Before I share how it’s changed my life, I’d like to reiterate why this resolution is important to me.

  1. Heart disease. There is a clear and documented link between red meat consumption and heart disease. Depending on the cut, red meat can be high in unhealthy saturated fats which tend to raise blood cholesterol levels and increase heart disease risk.
  2. Cancer. In some studies, red meat has been associated with certain types of cancer.
  3. Overall death risk. According to one study of 500,000 people by the National Institutes of Health and AARP, red meat eaters had a 30% increased chance of dying during the 10 year study. In a separate study at Harvard, researchers found that 9% of male deaths and 7% of female deaths would be prevented if people lowered red meat consumption to 1.5 ounces (or less) per day.
  4. Environment. When you compare the environmental impact of red meat to other foods like fruits, vegetables, dairy, chicken, etc., it’s not just a little bit worse. It’s hugely worse. According to one study, red meat accounts for just 30% of the world’s meat consumption – but it’s responsible for 78% of the emissions.

Instead of the usual burger or steak, I’ve been consuming red meat substitutes and opting for healthier cuts of chicken and turkey. Truth be told, it really hasn’t been difficult to make the transition and I can’t help but notice that my body feels cleaner and more energized.

The difference is most noticeable when I do eat red meat. I’m surprised at how gristly and fatty it tastes – and how sluggish I feel when digesting it. I never seemed to notice how unfavorably my body responds to red meat until I started cutting back on my intake. Because of the unpleasant response that red meat consumption inspires, it’s been very easy to stick with my resolution.

By far, replacing red meat with healthier options has been the best change that I’ve made to my diet in the last year. My only regret is that it took me 29 years to figure it out.

Are you interested in decreasing your red meat consumption? Do you think it’s something you’d like to try? Let me know in the comments below!

5 Tips: Is Grilling Meat Bad for You?

Summer is here – and the smell of backyard barbeques is in the air!

But, as a result of some recent studies, people are starting to question the health implications of grilled meat. Does it mean you should skip Uncle Joe’s annual summer cookout?

Here’s what the USDA has to say:

Some studies suggest there may be a cancer risk related to eating food cooked by high-heat cooking techniques as grilling, frying, and broiling. Based on present research findings, eating moderate amounts of grilled meats like fish, meat, and poultry cooked – without charring – to a safe temperature does not pose a problem.

There a basically two issues.

The first is charring. When meat becomes charred, it develops carcinogenic compounds called HCAs. These compounds have been shown to increase possible risk of breast, colon, prostate and stomach cancer. In fact, in one study, researchers found that individuals who ate beef medium-well or well-done beef had 3x the stomach cancer risk than individuals who at their beef rare or medium-rare.

The second issue is caused by meat fat dripping onto an open flame. This results in a flare-up of fire and smoke – and carcinogens called PAHs are deposited onto the meat.

Both charring and flare-ups can be prevented with these five tips:

  1. Cook at lower temperatures and don’t burn meat. This will prevent charring.
  2. Trim fat off of meat to reduce flare-ups.
  3. Marinate meats. One study showed that marinades may act as a barrier – and can reduce carcinogens by as much as 90%!
  4. Remove any charred or burnt pieces before consuming meat.
  5. Cook on a grill with a flavor bar between the food and flame.

The good news is there’s no need to cancel Uncle Joe’s annual barbeque. Just be sure to use the above tips to make your grilling season as healthy as possible – and remember, everything in moderation. Including moderation.

Are Nitrates Bad for You?

We've all heard the rumors about nitrates - but are nitrates really bad for you?

In recent years, awareness about nitrates has increased sharply.

Many people realize that deli meats contain nitrates. And because of this concern, many grocery stores now offer nitrate-free options.

But beyond hot dogs and cold cuts, many people don’t realize that many of our nitrates actually come from a much healthy source: Vegetables. Celery, lettuce, spinach and radishes are just a few of the many veggies with high nitrate levels.

It all begs the question: Are nitrates really bad for you? Or is it another marketing ploy?

According to the American Cancer Society, the jury is still out:

Nitrites and nitrates are added to meats to preserve color and prevent spoilage. Unfortunately, these compounds can be converted to nitrosamines, which are also known causes of cancer in animals (though… the link in people is unclear).

Some studies have linked nitrates and nitrates to cancer – and others have not.

In either case, there is a very simple trick to prevent the formation of nitrosamines: Get your recommended intake of Vitamin C. In fact, as a preventative measure, the USDA requires that Vitamin C is be added to bacon to prevent the formation of nitrosamines.

So while the research linking nitrates to cancer is still inconclusive and possibly overblown, it’s yet another reason to get your daily recommendation of essential vitamins.

Drinking Cold Water Makes Fat Solidify?

I recently discovered an email that has been circulating for a number of few years. Based on Eastern dietary habits of drinking warm tea with meals, it warns readers not to drink cold water while eating:

It is nice to have a cup of cold drink after a meal. However, the cold water will solidify the oily stuff that you have just consumed. It will slow down the digestion. Once this “sludge” reacted with the acid, it will break down and be absorbed by the intestine faster than the solid food. It will line the intestine. Very soon, this will turn into fats and lead to cancer. It is best to drink hot soup or warm water after a meal.

A cardiologist says if everyone who gets this mail sends it to 10 people, you can be sure that we’ll save at least one life.

The email went viral, and the rest is history – but is it true?

Absolutely not. For one, the reaction of cold water with food in the stomach doesn’t result¬† in solidification. The human body is very warm – and any temperature differences are quickly nullified. Moreover, by the time our food has entered into the intestine, it’s not solid thanks to the efficiency of our digestion process.

The email goes on to claim that oils turn into fats – though, in actuality, oils are fats. And they neither stick to the intestine nor cause cancer. However, higher levels of body fat and obesity do increase the risk of cancer, though this isn’t mitigated (in any way, shape or form) by drinking warm water or tea.

Though this email has spread like wildfire, it’s 100% untrue.

Are Organic Foods Healthier?

Ryan Phillipe, dressed as a farmer, could milk me any day.

This afternoon, I was doing some grocery shopping in my local supermarket. I found myself in the store’s “health food” department, which is really just a few small isles of organic products. I had to laugh the the department’s title, as so many of the organic foods were anything but healthy – including soups loaded with sodium, fat filled burritos and, my favorite, double chocolate chip cookies with 18 grams of fat each.

For many people, the label of “organic” signifies some nutritional benefit. This is a myth; the terms “organic” and “healthy” mean two very different things.

The term “organic food” refers to food grown without most artificial fertilizers or pesticides and in a way that emphasizes crop rotation, making the most of natural fertilizers and ensuring that the life of the soil is maintained. Animals are kept in ways which minimize the need for medicines and other chemical treatments.

In the United States, use of the term “organic” is heavily regulated – and fairly expensive to obtain. Some of the foods you buy from local growers at a farmer’s market are likely organic, though the farmers probably lack the resources to apply for the official certification. At any rate, organic refers to the way in which the product was grown – and not its nutritional content.

Some research has been done to determine if organic products do contain more vitamins and nutritionally desirable compounds. In other words, does an organic orange contain more vitamin C than it’s conventional counterpart? The official jury is still out – studies are still inconclusive on the subject – though most expects will say no. Surprisingly, studies also don’t show any longer term health benefits, like reduced risk of cancer, either. This is a conclusion refuted by organic food advocates.

So, if you want to buy organic food, research would suggest that you should do it for your extended body (this planet) and not your immediate human body. And don’t be fooled into thinking that organic products are healthy, just by virtue of being organic.

Are you a big believer in organic products? Why or why not?

How to Overcome Sugar Addiction.

Sugar is serious business. And many of us are addicted to the sweet stuff – or at the very least, getting way too much of it.

According to the USDA, Americans get more than twice the recommend amount of added sugar daily. What’s the big deal? Excessive sugar consumption can lead to weight gain, metabolic disorders (a precursor to diabetes) and even some forms of cancer. In other words, our sugar addiction could kill us.

And from a purely fitness standpoint, lots of sugar translates into extra body fat. A spoonful of sugar may help the medicine go down – but it will take 4 minutes of treadmill running to work it off!

What can you do to kick your sugar habit?

  1. Get your sugar where it occurs naturally – from fruits, dairy and vegetables.
  2. Avoid the obvious stuff like soft drinks, cakes, cookies, pies, fruit punch and candy.
  3. When you buy food, check the label. In the list of ingredients, look for any of these as they’re all forms of sugar in a clever disguise: Brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, fruit juice concentrate, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, honey invert sugar, lactose, malt syrup, maltose, molasses, raw sugar, sucrose, syrup or table sugar.

The easiest and most effective way to cut some sugar from your diet is to simply replace any fruit or soda beverages with water. If you can replace just two sugary beverages with water, you’ll make an annual caloric savings equivalent to 22 pounds of body fat!