Red Meat, Processed Meats, Nitrates and Cancer
It’s grilling season! Among the favorites to grill are heavily processed, red meats such as hotdogs, smoked ham and bacon wrapped burgers. Red and processed meats have routinely been criticized for causing cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Since there are many aspects of red meats and processed meats that may be to blame for these conditions, let’s put our focus on, nitrates and nitrites.
Nitrates and nitrites are the preservatives often found in cured meats; they’re added to enhance color, provide flavor and prevent deadly bacterial growth (clostridium botulinum)!
Once consumed, nitrates take various forms in the body. First, nitrates are reduced to nitrites, by the bacteria in our mouth. Nitrites may convert to nitric oxide (via the acid in our stomachs), then are absorbed by our small intestine and finally excreted by our kidneys via urine. Some research shows that nitrates that convert to nitric oxide may benefit cardiovascular health. For those of you “gym-goers”, nitric oxide may sound familiar because it’s used as a pre-workout supplement. That’s because it acts on our blood vessels as a vasodilator, which relaxes the blood vessels and makes them more efficient at pumping more blood (and therefore more oxygen) per beat. This has been shown to improve athletic performance, among other benefits. On the other hand, nitrites can take a different path and may form nitrosamines. Nitrosamines are the combination of nitrites and amines (the breakdown product of amino acids – the building blocks of protein). Nitrosamines were shown in some research to cause tumors in lab animals.
Well that’s confusing! On one hand nitrates may cause cancer, but on the other they may benefit cardiovascular health. Furthermore, did you know that more nitrates are found naturally in foods such as turnips, rhubarb, beets and celery, than those chemically added to processed meats (like potassium nitrate)? That’s because nitrates and nitrites are part of the earth’s nitrogen cycle; therefore anything that grows in the ground will contain some level of nitrates. Like so many other divisive nutrition topics, it’s important to consider the context.
Although some research shows nitrites can form cancer causing nitrosamines, this pathway is less likely when antioxidants (in the form of vegetables) are consumed. Since meats do not contain these antioxidants, there is a potential correlation with the meat preservatives, nitrates and nitrites, and an increased risk of stomach and colon cancer.
If it’s the nitrates that are the issue let’s just omit them, right? That’s what some companies are doing, I’m sure you’ve seen the new food claims that state “No nitrates/nitrites added except for those naturally occurring…”? The statement is regulated by the USDA (United States Dept. of Agriculture), but does it really mean anything, and is it better?
For example; a “naturally” cured turkey bacon ingredient list may look like this: [Turkey, Water, Vinegar, Sea Salt, Raw Sugar, Celery Powder]. Although this bacon is indeed preserved without the use of nitrates or nitrites, it is not nitrate- or nitrite-free since there are naturally occurring nitrates in celery. This packaging may lead the consumer to believe it is superior to conventional (chemically preserved) meat. However, the body sees natural nitrates and chemically derived nitrates the same. Unfortunately, labeling meats as uncured is misleading.
To add to the confusion, “processed” meat is multifaceted; cured and processed meat is often red meat of lesser quality and likely fattier cuts; often containing preservatives, sugar, breading and more sodium than likely achieved via home preparation. Additionally, the nutrition of a plant or animal is also dependent on how it is raised, prepared, seasoned and ultimately cooked.
So what is a nutrition conscious person to do? Choose a variety of proteins instead which include seafood, poultry, red meat and vegetable proteins. Limit your use of all processed meats including those that are smoked and cured and consider sodium content; choose products that contain less than 250 or 300 milligrams per serving. While you’re at it, vary your preparation methods as well; roast, slow cook, sauté and grill your meats - just because it’s tasty!
Have You Tried Horseshoes?
Are you looking for a new activity to do? Something different from the run of the mill backyard games, or just looking to have some casual fun with some friends? If any of those are the case, then look no further! Horseshoes may be the outdoor activity that you need. A game great to play with friends, or people you’ve never met before, horseshoes provides the opportunity to have fun with your friends and meet new people.
Horseshoes is a game that almost anyone can play! It is a lawn game played between two people two teams using four horseshoes and two stakes set in a lawn or sandbox area. Horseshoes is a point system. Ringers are three points. A ringer is when the horseshoe completely encircles around the stake. Additional points are awarded for horseshoes that are not a ringer but are six inches or closer from the stake.
This game has delighted players since the beginning of the twentieth century. It has since grown to the point where it has crossed country borders in an annual World Championship. But whether you are in a professional league or just hanging out in the background with two stake and a cold drink, you may find a new passion throwing horseshoes.
Misconception of “Getting Toned”
Often times when you ask someone what their goal is they will say “I want to get toned,” or “I really want to tone my arms and and tummy.” The biggest misconception that many people have is that you have to spend all your time in the gym or at home doing cardio. At the start of my health/fitness journey, I fell victim to the misconception that cardio=toned.
Then I got a little news flash: You cannot get “toned” with out lifting weights.
For the longest time I thought that weight lifting would make me bulky, but it does the complete opposite. You can’t target fat loss. You cannot get toned from only cardio. You have to have lean mass (muscle) under your body fat in order get a “toned.” appearance. By integrating weights into your workout routine it will help increase muscle mass and give you a toned body. Cardio is a great way to take care of your heart and get your calorie expenditure up. Establishing a cardiovascular and strength training routine will help get the desired toned definition everyone talks about.
Blood Pressure Information
Blood pressure is a measurement of the force applied to the artery walls as the heart pumps blood through the body. The pressure is determined by the amount of blood pumped, the force at which it is pumped, and the size and flexibility of the arteries.
-The top number of a blood pressure reading is the systolic reading. It represents the maximum pressure exerted when the heart contracts. Anormal systolic reading is 120 or less.
-The bottom number of a blood pressure reading is called the diastolicreading. It represents the pressure in the arteries when the heart is at restin the contraction. A normal diastolic reading is 80 or less.
Blood pressure is continually changing depending on activity, temperature, diet, stress, sickness, and what medications you might use.
There are several things you can do if you have high blood pressure. Although high blood pressure cannot be cured, it can be controlled. The following are ways to reduce your blood pressure:
-Reduce the fat in your diet andsodium in your diet.
-Get regular physical exercise and lose weight if needed.
-Reduce the amount of alcohol you might consume on a daily basis.
-If you are a smoker and have high blood pressure,
quitting smoking will notonly help lower blood pressure but will
help keep yourcardiovascular systemworking properly.
-If none of the above work for a certain individual, medications
can be used tomonitor high blood pressure
Getting your heart rate up while strength training
Getting your heart rate up doesn’t just require cardiovascular exercises. When strength training there are ways that you can increase your heart rate and intensity without stepping on any cardio equipment.
Adding in supersets (two strength training exercises back to back) is a great way to get the hear rate up. When performing supersets, there is no rest between exercise, but after the set is over. By incorporating supersets into your workouts you can get a bigger bang for your buck in the gym.