10. TO EAT OR NOT TO EAT? - MEAT AND POULTRY
Throughout evolution, humans have been eating all kinds of meat (beef, pork, lamb, poultry, game meat), dairy products and fish and through time our digestive systems have adapted to make full use of the healthy fats, proteins and nutrients found in these animal foods. Meats are excellent sources of some of the minerals, such as iron, copper, zinc and manganese. It is also a concentrated source of B vitamins, including vitamin B12 which is absent from plant foods.
The problem with meat (white or red) is really in the way that they are fed, how they are raised and where they are harvested.
How are animals being raised?
Modern production of foods incorporates a wide range of synthetic chemicals
1. Growth hormones - Due to the way that farm animals are raised, their meat harbor many substances that may support the growth of cancer. For example the growth hormones given to farm animals to accelerate their growth, results in an increase in the estrogen levels in their meat by up to twenty times that of untreated meat. Once consumed by human it can result in a condition of ‘estrogen dominance’. Since estrogen is a pro-growth hormone it not only drives rampant cell division in normal cell it also promotes the growth of cancer cells.
Modern animal farming incorporates a wide range of chemicals and drugs
Commercially raised chicken
Commercially raised cows
2. Drugs and agricultural chemicals - In addition to growth hormones, farm animals are also fed large amounts of antibiotics to fight off infections. Residues of drugs, pesticides and agricultural chemicals can also be found in small amounts in meat and meat products. Pesticides, for example, may be applied specifically to the animals to control insects or intestinal parasites but may also be present in meat as a result of exposure of the animals to chemicals used on buildings, grazing areas and crops. Many of these chemicals have the potential to be very damaging to humans if they are exposed to high concentrations, or to low concentrations over an extended period of time.
3. Distorted ratio of Omega 3 and Omega 6
Another issue of concern is the distorted omega 3 and omega 6 fat ratios. Scientific evidence strongly advocates the increased consumption of dietary omega-3 fatty acids and reduced omega-6 fatty acids intake to lower the risk of chronic disease and support optimal life development. However, the composition of omega 3s and omega 6s in our bodies is influenced by the food we eat. In the olden days, farm animals grazed on grass and fed on insects in the open field (in the case of chickens). When eating this traditional food, their meat, milk and eggs are perfectly balanced in omega 3 and omega 6 with a ratio of 1:1. However, when these animals are fed corn and soy, the resulting ratio can be in the region of 1:15 or 1:20. Refer to the bar graph on the left. (Source: Dhiman, T. R., G. R. Anand, et al. (1999). "Conjugated linoleic acid content of milk from cows fed different diets." J Dairy Sci 82(10): 2146-56.
Feeding animal on corn fundamentally changes the meat they produce; it greatly increases the levels of pro-inflammatory Omega-6 fatty acids and decreases levels of anti-inflammatory Omega-3 fatty acids. This change greatly impacts the quality of the meat for human consumption. Additionally, grain fed beef is also lacking in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) which is anti-carcinogenic, anti-diabetic and anti-artherosclerotic (vascular disease) .
You can cut down your cancer risk substantially by reducing the amount of animal-based products you eat. However, you don’t need to cut out meat completely and become a vegetarian, animal protein can be safely and beneficially consumed in small quantities.
If you choose to eat meat then:
Choose non-toxic meat that has been raised organically such as choosing free range chicken over commercial chicken.
- Choose grass fed, instead of corn fed cows, this will give you a healthier nutrient dense meat.
- Avoid all processed meats including bacon, hot dogs, sandwich meats etc. They contain various additives including nitrates, a type of preservative linked to cancer,
- Eat not more than once a day — meat are ‘acidic food’.
- Eggs - Use genuine free range eggs. (Don’t worry about the cholesterol. Cholesterol is needed by the body—refer to excerpt on cholesterol).
The image below shows the color of the yolks of store bought and free range eggs. A pale yellow yolk is what most people eat ––is actually a sign of a grain fed, caged and hormone fattened laying hen. Free range eggs have more nutrients like selenium, omega 3 and vit. E due to the varied diet of the chicken.
Pointers on cooking meat or poultry
Preferably stew, steam, stir-fry and soup. High heat from grilling reacts with proteins in red meat, poultry and fish, creates heterocyclic amines (formed when food is cooked at high temperatures) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), which are linked to cancer. If you do barbeque of grill, avoid charring your meat or scrap off the blackened sections.
Other considerations when consuming meat
---Meat is protein-dense animal muscle, and, for optimal digestion it requires better chewing, more endogenous (internal) acid secretion by the stomach's parietal cells (the stomach epithelial cells), and more active enzyme secretion by the pancreas. In patients who have a large tumor load, whatever energy/ resources available in the body is best used for healing processes instead of digestion.
----For patients with advanced cancers, they often have impairment of renal and liver function which makes the digestive processes extremely challenging. In this case, total avoidance of meat is recommended.
---To improve digestibility, meat can be grounded or cut into small bites and made into soups, stew or curries.
A note on estrogen
Estrogen is a ‘pro-growth’ hormone naturally produced by the body in the ovaries, adrenal glands and the fat cells. While its importance is normally associated with women in the development of female secondary sexual characteristics like breasts and regulation of the menstrual cycle, estrogen plays an important role in men’s overall health too. Males have very low levels of estrogen and it helps in the maturation of the sperm and maintenance of a healthy libido.
Balancing of the hormone levels is vital for optimal body function. Too much estrogen (estrogen dominance) has been linked to the development of breast, endometrial, and uterine cancers in female and prostate cancer as well as gynecomastia (enlarged breasts) in men. Excess estrogen in the body, contributed by the consumption of farm meat and dairies can drive rampant cell division including those of cancer.
Commercial Poultry farming
Commercial Poultry farming
A free-range chicken is a bird that is allowed constant access to the outdoors, with plenty of fresh vegetation, sunshine and room to exercise. Moreover, it has not been given chemicals (antibiotics, growth hormones) of any kind. They scratch around the barnyard and fields after bugs, worms and native seeds.
In commercial poultry farming the birds are confined into small spaces, grain fed and often given hormones, antibiotics and also arsenic. Yes, arsenic. The compounds roxarsone, carbarsone and arsanilic acid have been used in many different drugs added to feed for chickens, turkeys and pigs to prevent disease, increase feed efficiency and promote growth.
F.D.A. Bans Three Arsenic Drugs Used in Poultry and Pig Feeds