Can we talk? I mean really talk?
I work with clients who come to me with autoimmune conditions, mainly gut related, however, all diseases start with the gut. Hmm, let me back up, all diseases start with what you put into your mouth.
Have you read the report from Consumer Reports about food packaging? If you have, good, read this. If you have not, please read this.
Consumer reports did independent testing of more than 100 packaging products from US restaurant and grocery chains. They found what is called “Forever Chemicals” in paper bags for french fries, wrappers for hamburgers, molded fiber salad bowls and single-use paper plates.
"Forever Chemicals" means, they stay in our body forever because our overwhelmed liver and kidneys can not detoxify them. With the right tools, it is possible to release them from the body. I believe it is quite possible, given the fact on average, PFAS can remain in the body between two and nine years. Unfortunately, most people are not willing to change their habits. Believe it or not, this also plays a role in the severity of some cases of Covid-19.
According to the findings of Consumer Reports', restaurants, especially fast food restaurants had at least one packaging product containing Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) (pronounced PEA-fahs). Grocery chains such as Trader Joes, Whole Foods, Kroger, and Stop and Shop.
There are more than 4,700 different PFAS chemicals, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances and among the 9,000 known PFAS, testing can only identify a couple dozen according to Consumer Reports.
Here is the thing, this is not the first time Consumer Reports has done this type of a report. They have done it several times. We hear the message, it remains in the news for a couple of days, and restaurants go back to how they have always done it. If we, as consumers, are not demanding change, it is not going to happen.
And, believe me, it is not just Fast food chains, restaurants from chains to high end are all using these types of packaging. More than likely, not knowingly or turning a blind eye. According to Consumer Reports;
“retailers that claimed to be phasing out PFAS, including Cava, Chipotle, Panera Bread, Sweetgreen, and Whole Foods Market. All 13 of the products the companies said had reduced PFAS still had some detectable organic fluorine, and seven were above 20 ppm. They ranged from a Whole Foods soup container with 21 ppm organic fluorine—the only Whole Foods item to top the 20-ppm limit—to a paper bag for pita chips from Cava with 260 ppm.
PFAS are a a class of industrial chemicals used to repel grease, water and stains in consumer products. This is why you will find these chemicals in pizza boxes, fast food packaging, restaurant take away containers, disposable coffee cups and soup containers, nonstick coating on many pans and bakeware, carpeting, in some areas, drinking water, packaging lining (think cereal, crackers), furniture coating, clothing, electronics.
Why are PFAS Dangerous?
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the chemicals are linked to liver damage, harm to the immune system, developmental toxicity and cancer, and can accumulate in humans and the environment.
PFA’s in packaging, are seeping into the food. This contamination is building up in our body, is leading to health issues. Studies have shown in animal testing to cause liver, pancreas, and testicular tumors, effects on serum liver enzymes, however, how it is effecting humans is uncertain. Other studies have shown increases in prostate, kidney and testicular cancers in people who live near facilities and workers exposed to PFAS
Studies looking at the harm of elevated levels of PFOS and PFOA in drinking water found that, people who’d been exposed to higher than normal levels of PFOA had an elevated risk of high cholesterol, ulcerative colitis, thyroid disease, testicular cancer, kidney cancer, and pregnancy-induced hypertension
According to a 2020 Consumer Reports article, PFAS have been detected in the drinking water of more than 1,400 communities in 49 states, according to research by the PFAS Project at Northeastern University in Boston and the Environmental Working Group (EWG), an advocacy organization that estimates that 110 million people may have tap water contaminated with the chemicals.
Other studies in people and animals have shown that high enough doses of PFAS chemicals like PFOA can affect the immune system and have toxic effects on the liver and other organs. According to a report from Florida, non- cancer effects appear more common and include, increase cholesterol levels, impact hormones, the immune system and fetal and infant developmental effects.
There’s clear evidence that being exposed to high enough levels of PFOS and PFOA is linked to an elevated risk for a number of diseases, and experts say it’s possible that other PFAS chemicals could have similar health effects. Continuous high exposure is what increases the risk the most. What is even more sickening, the federal government still hasn't set limits for PFAS compounds.
Keep in mind, it may be small exposure in fast food or grocery packaging, known as chronic exposure. It is the accumulative effect at play here.
There are newer chemicals on the market. Researches are testing people to see how these will pan out. Wait, what? Sounds like we are the cohort, once again. But, according to the companies who are producing alternatives they are well-studied and safe. Um, no thank you! Sounds like when we woke up and screamed “foul-play” on Bisphenol A (BPA). The companies changed to Bisphenol-S (BPS) and we all think this is safe. Um, no!
Covid-19 and PFAS, A Deadly Combination
PFAS (perfluorinated alkylate substances) are everywhere! Getting them out of the Environemental is not possible. Even the healthiest of the healthiest packaging will contain trace amounts of PFAS. There are substitutes available, however, CR tested 50 products and guess what? They are not so healthy.
One of the newer subset or substitute is erfluorobutanoic acid (PFBA). This has been found to accumulate in the lungs and has been linked to more sever cases of COVID-19. The researchers found;
“Measures of individual exposures to immunotoxic PFASs included short-chain PFBA known to accumulate in the lungs. Elevated plasma-PFBA concentrations were associated with an increased risk of a more severe course of COVID-19. Given the low background exposure levels in this study, the role of exposure to PFASs in COVID-19 needs to be ascertained in populations with elevated exposures.”
According to US Department of Health and Human Services;
“CDC/ATSDR recognizes that exposure to high levels of PFAS may impact the immune system. There is evidence from human and animal studies that PFAS exposure may reduce antibody responses to vaccines and may reduce infectious disease resistance."
According to Toxic Free Future Advocacy Group; many products are made with these compounds, including:
"food packaging, such as microwave popcorn bags and fast food wrappers;
stain-resistant carpets, rugs, and furniture;
outdoor gear with a “durable water repellent” coating;
aerospace, medical, and automotive applications; and
many specialty items such as firefighting foams, ski wax, and industrial applications."
These chemicals are everywhere and in just about everything and are here to stay messing up our health.
Why do we need talk?
Because I really want you to be the healthiest you can be, not just in this moment, but when you are old! You see, what you eat today, or what it is wrapped in, may not show a cause and an effect today. It will show an accumulative chronic effect later.
Cancer doesn’t happen over night, an autoimmune condition does not happen over night. It is an accumulative effect. These chemicals are a contributing factor.
What you are doing today is going to affect how you feel in the future.
I met with a potential client, who has Crohn’s disease. His diet was terrible, two days of eating a better diet, he felt better. Food is powerful! If he keeps going, eating real whole foods and avoiding as many chemicals as possible, he can reverse numerous side effects of his current condition.
Of course, we are talking about what our food is wrapped in. Food that you purchase in the organic produce section comes in its own package. Whole organic fruits and vegetables will not contain any PFAS, xenoestrogens and other chemicals.
I am keeping this post mainly to food exposure however, this is also a growing concern for children’s toys, baby bottles, toys, appliances and personal care products.
How Can we limit our exposure to PFAS?
Get Your Water Tested
Get your water tested whether it is municipal or well water. Water systems tested in 2013-2015 revealed an estimated six million U.S. residents with drinking water supplies contaminated with PFAS above safety levels set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
A 2018, report drafted by the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry suggested more communities may have PFAS levels in their water that are a concern for health. For some, water can be the highest exposure. Not just drinking, but bathing. When these chemicals are heated they are more volatile and steam is an easy way to inhale large amounts of these chemicals, not to mention what is absorbed through the skin.
Invest in a Reverse Osmosis
Once your water has been tested you can either trust what you are drinking out of the tap or, install a reverse osmosis. Whether you live in a building or your home rolls like ours you can get a reverse osmosis. When we had our home, I had the iSpring 7-Stage Reverse Osmosis and I loved it. The water tasted so good! There are different filter stages you can get. I went for this one because the water in Phoenix, Arizona is less than stellar including containing chemicals such as perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and Chromium-6.
This Ispring Reverse Osmosis (picture above) has 7 stages of filtration including a UV light stage for microbes, the other filters remove harmful chemicals and the best part, a pH filter to remineralize the water. It was truly the best reverse osmosis system I have ever had. If I could have fit this under the sink in my Motorcoach, I would have it in there too. But, alas, it is too big!
I did find a company that makes RV reverse osmosis units with different tank and cartridge sizes. We got the 2 gallon tank (pictured above) and it is perfect for shore hookup or boondocking. The company is Weco Filters. The one we got is a mini 3 cartridge (with membrane) reverse osmosis machine. I also found it on Amazon which is super nice for the free shipping and getting it in a couple of days. A friend of mine just purchased the same one off of Amazon for his coach and he loves it!
We have a 3 stage filter system for the whole coach and a filter on the hose outside. Because of this, instead of changing our WECO Mini Reverse Osmosis filters every 3 months, we can go 6 months, sometimes longer. The membrane is changed every two years. We are just coming up on 2 years and will have to see where it is at and then decide if we can get a little more time on it. Although, the filters are quite inexpensive.
For the home, typically the filters are changed every 6 months to a year and the membrane is every 5 years.
Use a shower and bathtub filter
You can also get shower and bath filter systems to help catch some of these chemicals. Weco Filters carries filters for the bath and shower. Amazon has vast array of shower and bath filters from a simple carbon to elaborate remineralizing filters. Like SparkPod, Aqua Earth, AquaBliss, which have different stages of filtration to not only block out the bad stuff but remineralize for better skin and hair.
For the bath, there are bath ball filters such as, Sprite Showers, BB-BN Ball Bath Filter, Organic Cotton Bath Faucet Filter by Santevia, and CuZn Bath Ball Faucet Filter.
Upgrade your dining experience
Food chains use less than stellar ingredients, especially the oil. On the notes, your local restaurants may also be using less than stellar ingredients and packaging. Open Googlemaps and search “organic restaurants”. A ton of healthier option restaurants will pop up. They will not all be organic, however, they will be a 100% step up from fast food chains. Now you get to explore cleaner, fresher food.
Before going to the restaurant, bring a glass container with you for leftovers. You can now get glass dishes with bamboo lids. There are tons to choose from on Amazon from small to large and ones with individualized compartments. I recently purchased these bamboo glass containers with separate compartments to try out in my HotLogic. I love that that I can bring home SAFE leftovers, refrigerate, then pop into my HotLogic to reheat the next day. I can also store food in these and pop them into the freezer. Bamboo is naturally antimicrobial, and does not contain any of the forever chemicals. I also leave a glass container in my car, for unplanned nights out.
If you already have glass containers with plastic lids, like I do, I use non-bleached parchment paper to put under the plastic lid. I have been using the brand "If You care" non-bleached, chemical free parchment paper because they really go far to ensure the best healthiest quality parchment paper.
For my round glass dishes, I use "Zenology" unbleached parchment paper rounds. All I can say is one word, GENIUS! They come in every size and are easy to use. I have researched these two companies for parchment paper and they are not using “forever chemicals” to the best of my knowledge.
Pay Attention to the Packaging
Now that you have a better idea of what is lurking in the food products, limit your consumption of canned foods, foods wrapped in styrofoam, microwaved foods such as popcorn (the ultimate worst) and, liners in food. Look for food in glass over plastic.
Now, you are probably thinking, there is no way I am giving up my popcorn. You do not have to. You just need to upgrade what you are eating. Instead of a chemical laden popcorn bag cooked in the microwave, go retro. Go old skool with a popcorn machine. If you like buttered popcorn, go for real organic butter from pastured raised cows or ghee. Voila! Look at you, making yummy buttered popcorn and not a chemical in sight! Pat yourself on the back.
This is just one example of how you can easily upgrade your food choices for the better.
Here is a great trick. When picking a product off of the shelf, grab the one at the back. If the employees are stocking their shelves correctly, the newest is at the back and the oldest product is at the front. It won't protect you from leaching. But, when you add in the lights beaming on the shelves, the newer product is hiding in the back under the cloak of shade. It just means maybe there is less contamination.
Which means, when you get your product home, transfer it from the packaging to a glass dish or jar. Oh, and do not forget to use non-bleached waxed paper or parchment paper if you are using a plastic lid.
Upgrade your protein sources
If you are subscribed to my weekly newsletter, You all know I order my animal and seafood protein through Butcherbox. Not only am I side-stepping harmful antibiotics, toxins and inflammation, I am also not getting styrofoam packaged foods. Seriously, upgrading your animal and ocean protein means, less chemicals altering your physiology leading to disease and cancer. Plus, its fresh, not hanging around in a supermarket under those harsh lights. I also like that Butcherbox is delivered right to my door.
Check out a local Farmers Market. Besides Butcherbox, I also go to local farmers market and chat with the farmer, they are super honest and will tell you up front what they are feeding their animals and how they are raised. I have yet to be handed meat that was stored on styrofoam. Its just a better a choice.
Eat at home, cook at home
Sunday dinners were my favourite when I was kid. We would gather together at grandmas house and enjoy good food and great conversations, well the adults anyway. I was just happy to play with my cousins.
If you are subscribed to my weekly newsletter, (and, if you are not, get on it now), you know I am always sharing a recipe with you. Ok, so a lot of them are using the HotLogic, but, there is method to my obsession! The HotLogic ((use my discount code HEALTHY GUT for an additional 10% off) is a simple way to upgrade your food with minimal effort. Throw all the ingredients into a glass dish (no chemicals), slap on a piece of non-bleached parchment paper (no chemicals) and then the lid (protected from chemicals), plug the HotLogic in- eat when you are ready chemical free!
Seriously, we need to get back to eating real food! It has been proven, that food wrapped in packages especially fat, salt and acidic leach the PFAS chemicals quicker. What foods could these be? Just about everything on the menu! Research suggests, PFAS levels are higher in those who regularly eat out especially in females.
Covid lockdown should have had us all cooking again. But, unfortunately, because we had a car and tons of drive-thrus, with a wipe of the sweat off our brow, we thwarted the horror.
I believe from looking at the research, our immune system has been attacked, our gut is compromised and we are dealing with the aftermath of ill health, blaming it all on Covid. Seriously, we need to start cooking whole organic, foods that grow from the ground and graze upon it. In other words, less packaged foods and more real food, minimally processed.
I get it, we are all busy, and purchasing a ready cooked meal and popping it into a microwave is quick. Or even quicker, driving up to the drive thru, and spending 15 minutes in a line sucking in exhaust fumes while we pass the time away scrolling through social media.
Seriously, have you stopped to understand what is missing when you eat these types of food? You are not getting what you need to run your body, protect you from disease and cancer!
Autoimmune disease, cancer are preventative if we take a little time now to do the work. If you do not put the right oil and gas and change the filter in your car, it doesn’t run quite as well. We are much the same.
It may seem like a lot of work and in the beginning it may seem like that. But, once you get used to cooking real whole food, you will never go back.
There isn’t a client I have worked with who, after working with me has said “I think I am going back to the way I used to eat.” Not one! I have worked in integrative healing centers in 3 different countries. The running theme; whatever the ailment, the diet and lifestyle was the same. Change the diet and lifestyle, and they all got better to reversing their symptoms and diagnoses for the better.
You have the ability to change. Don’t do it all at once. Start slowly. Look, if you want to learn how to cook from scratch and have left overs for the next day. Make the recipes I share with you. It is quite easy.
My husband and I boondocked for a week in the middle of nowhere. It took me a little prep-work however, my HotLogic did all the work. In my HotLogic MAX Oven I effortlessly cooked at the same time, a whole chicken and beef roast in separate containers. My personal size HotLogic Mini I cooked a pork roast. I made up 3 different salad dressings in left over Kombucha jars. If you are starting to think the HotLogic is the way to check it out and use the discount code HEALTHYGUT on the checkout page for an additional 10% off. I have been using mine for 4 years now.
I made sure we had enough for veggies for salads for the week. I will confess, I forgot to buy some onions. I made pickled onions -these went on everything they were sooooooooo good.
You can easily cook up a batch of potatoes. Leave some boiled whole, mash some up and you can easily reheat in the HotLogic along with a choice beef, pork or chicken. I cooked my asparagus in the HotLogic for our asparagus pickled onion salad, paired it with chicken and it was absolutely delicious. Guess what was not lurking? PFAS! Yippeeee!
We ate like royalty. The salad dressings were out of this world. Way better than any store bought dressing-I promise! The pickled onions were the perfect set of sweet and tangy. And mixing them with asparagus was just delightful. Eating outside every night with the sound of nothing but the Sonoran desert was better than any 5 star dining experience I have done.
We had different fresh veggies and salad dressings throughout the week, alternated our animal protein and we never felt like we were eating the same thing every night. You can do this too. You do not need to boondock in order to eat super healthy and effortlessly.
Detox your way to health
There are things that can be done to help remove some of these chemicals from your body. But, first, you must start by removing the culprits and it starts with the what I have suggested above. Once this is done, then you can start the healing process.
It can take up to a year or longer to release these stored toxins. Sorry, there is no quick fix. You can however, use foods to help in the process. Foods such as chlorella, spirulina, turmeric and Ginger are wonderful cleansing herbs to add to your smoothies and food. Leafy greens (the darker the better), apples and citrus for the pectin, sprouts and beets are wonderful for supporting the liver and its detoxification pathways.
Add lots of organic fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds to help feed your microbiota that in turn can keep bacteria at bay that interfere with your liver's ability to detoxify. Fiber also helps bind toxins so they can be eliminated via a great bowel moment!
Drinking quality water is also a super support. It helps to keep the body properly hydrated so that it can perform the necessary functions for proper detoxification and elimination. If you are taking fiber, it is important to get at least 32 ounces of water daily to help with good bowel movements to get the junk out of you.
Sleep is super important. Sleep is what triggers the liver to start cleaning and sorting nutrients from our food intake and eliminating toxins and chemical processing metabolites from the day. Our entire digestive process is in high gear while we are sleeping; building and repairing.
We do not need to worry, but we do need to worry
Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) may be considered forever chemicals however, I believe we can do something about it. We can detoxify these chemicals from our body. But, first we must do some prepwork to get to the point of releasing these toxins. The first is to incorporate the suggestions in the article. The more you can stop bringing the chemicals in your body, the better your body will react at getting the rest out.
We can all get back to basics with our food. What we put in our mouth affects our physiology, our emotions, our frame of mind, and our health. Disease and cancer is preventable. Now that you know how forever chemicals may be affecting your health, what will take for you to do something about it. You have the power to take back our health.
If you need coaching or help in upgrading your diet and lifestyle, I am here for you. Email me or text me and let's get you going on your road to the best life now and in the future!
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We need to talk about traditional charcuterie (pronounced “shar-ku-trie”) boards since they are all the rage. In case you spend more time off-grid then on (like me), charcuterie is the art of taking cured meats, cheese, artisan breads, crackers, fruit and nuts and creatively displaying them on a board. They are quite popular for date night, get togethers including football parties. but what's lurking in the deli meats is can be a total nightmare.
But first, let me share a story with you. When I was kid, one of my favorite things to eat was a bologna sandwich. It would start with fresh Wonder bread, margarine thickly spread on both sides of the bread, 2 pieces of bologna and 2 slices of Kraft single cheese and iceberg lettuce. I would squish the bread until it was a dense doughy mess, eat it and then wash it down with a glass of cow’s milk. Man, how things have changed! In fact, this memory seems like it is someone else’s memory, it is that foreign to me. I couldn’t imagine eating this way today.
What is so wrong with the way I used to eat? everything! But, first, let me ask you, are you still eating deli meats? What about cured meats? Even the healthy ones? Should you?
Whether it is a charcuterie or a sandwich, let’s explore how eating deli meat, cured meat, bacon, hotdogs and other prepared processed meat may potentially be affecting your health and the ramifications.
Deli meats, sometimes called luncheon meats , cold cuts and cured meats, can have some potential ingredients that can cause problems. When I was growing up, deli meats were meat you got at the deli counter and luncheon meats were what you shopped for in the prepared meats isle of the grocers.
So, what the heck is a cold cut?
Deli meat is what you would get at the deli market. It would be large pieces of meat, individually sliced by the butcher to the specifications of the customer. My mum used to get 100g of shaved black forest ham. Honestly, it was the best tasting ham.
Luncheon meats are sealed prepackaged meats hanging off of a peg in the refrigerated section of the grocers’ store. Cold cuts, are a slang term for the slang term “luncheon meats” (which is the slang term for deli meats). Essentially, they are refrigerated prepackaged luncheon meats. Cold cuts and luncheon meats mean the same thing, it just depends on where you are from.
What is the problem with Deli and luncheon meats?
Whether it is deli, luncheon or cold cuts (and for the rest of this article I will combine the term into deli meats) and cured meats contain some seedy ingredients that seem harmless, however, when they mix with our bodily fluids may be deadly.
It all has to do with how deli meats are cured. Conventional methods use nitrates and nitrites. According to WebMD Nitrate is an inorganic, water-soluble chemical. Your body makes around 62 milligrams (mg) of nitrites a day, but the majority of nitrates come from your diet.
Did you know regularly eating even small amounts of cured processed meats increases cancer and heart disease risk? Maybe you have heard of this in the past. I know I have covered it a time or two in past emails.
So, you upgraded to the healthiest you could find and, guess what? Even healthy, including 'uncured' products have the same effect. How can this be?
According to 2019 JNCI Cancer Spectrum statistics ;
The reason why deli meats including bacon and hotdogs are questionable is because they are loaded with nitrites and nitrates. Nitrites and Nitrates are similar in that these compounds are inorganic composed of nitrogen and oxygen.
Nitrites and nitrates are anti microbial preservatives used to stop the growth of microbes and they also help keep the pinker tones in the meat. There have been numerous studies indicating nitrites and nitrates on their own are safe.
Like all research, it is what I call, “narrowed research” and it is up to the consumer to read the broad scope. Research has indicated that nitrites and nitrates are safe. Indeed, they are. But, the research, which is typical with most research, they look at a very narrow approach. Indeed, these chemicals are safe, however, what happens, when they are ingested? How do they interact in our body? This sometimes is overlooked.
In this instance, when nitrates combine with saliva and stomach acid, the proteins create a compound called nitrosamine which studies show have been linked to causing cancer.
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, based in Atlanta, Georgia, a federal public health agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,  released a patient education care instruction sheet “Nitrates/Nitrates Poisoning” looking at nitrites in drinking water reported the following;
“Usually nitrates that enter the body by eating or drinking leave the body without harm. Sometimes, though, conditions such as diarrhea and dehydration (not enough fluids in the body) can make nitrates change to nitrites in greater amounts. These nitrites in the blood cause changes in hemoglobin, or the molecules that help move oxygen in the body. Nitrates can make it so that less oxygen is available for the body to function properly."
When looking at shallow rural domestic wells not tested properly, may cause problems for infants. The same paper states; 
"Infants younger than 4 months of age are the highest risk group for harm from exposure to nitrates."
Infants with diarrhea and vomiting form more nitrites inside the body that place them at higher risk for health effects with or without nitrate exposure.
A pregnant woman and her fetus might be more sensitive to toxicity from nitrites or nitrates at or near the 30th week of pregnancy.”
It is not just rural areas, it is also our municipal tap water. According to
it is also our municipal tap water. According to Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), What Are U.S. Standards and Regulations for Nitrates and Nitrites Exposure?  Looking at recommended limit for nitrates and nitrites in drinking water concluded;
Although we are not talking about nitrites and nitrates in drinking water, could these same concerns spill over into our meats?
An article from THE CONVERSATION, Academic rigor, journalistic flair; “Why nitrates and nitrites in processed meats are harmful – but those in vegetables aren’t”  talks about nitrites and cancer;
“…cancer risk likely comes from when the sodium nitrites react with other molecules in the body. So it isn’t necessarily the nitrates and nitrites themselves that cause health issues – including cancer. Rather, it’s what form they are converted into that can increase risk – and what these converted molecules interact with in our bodies.
The main concern is when sodium nitrite reacts with degraded bits of amino acids – protein fragments our body produces during the digestion of proteins – forming molecules called N-nitroso compounds (NOCs). These NOCs have been shown to cause cancer.
Cancer-causing NOCs can form either during the preparation of nitrite-containing processed meats or during their digestion in the gut. This is because both the preparation and digestion of processed meats generate plenty of protein fragments for the nitrites to react with. Research shows that the NOCs already present in the processed meats we eat (known as “preformed NOCs”) are linked with a greater risk of developing rectal cancer than from NOCs that are subsequently formed in the body. By contrast, given that there are far fewer protein fragments in vegetables, these aren’t a significant source of preformed NOCs.
Haem reacts with nitrites, resulting in a molecule called nitrosylated-haem. It’s this molecule – rather than the nitrite itself – that likely reacts with protein fragments to form NOCs.
The reason NOCs cause cancer is because they damage DNA. This is the first step in cancer, which is why NOCs are sometimes referred to as “tumour initiators”. But other agents, called tumour promoters, are then needed to drive the cancer process forwards. Tumour promoters are produced in high amounts when meat is fried. So it may be that processed meats that are fried – such as bacon and sausages – contain more initiators and tumour promoters and may be more of a cancer risk than non-fried types such as hams."
If you are thinking…well, Karen, there are nitrites in our veggies, how come they do not affect us?
Approximately 80% of dietary nitrates are derived from vegetable consumption. we, along with our saliva and bacteria also produce nitrites. But, because there are no protein compounds mixing with stomach acid, plus these veggies will contain naturally occurring vitamin C  and E, (antioxidants) and and polyphenols, which prevents the conversion, thus, they are a safer choice. Another win-win for the plant based versus meat argument.
However, with this said, we do not know the long-term effects of genetically engineered “plant-based” foods such as burgers that bleed,[9,10]
Back to processed meats; it only takes a little bit. Harvard researchers  found increasing processed red meat intake by just half a serving a day (½ ounce deli meat, ½ hot dog, or 1 slice bacon) raised the risk of dying over the next eight years by 13 percent. I am a little freaked out because I do eat bacon..I love my bacon! Cold cuts; not-so-much, hotdogs? I have not eaten those in over 25 years.
What about “uncured’ processed meats?
There is a big hot mess going on when it comes to properly labeling processed meats. There are two methods to curing meats; there are the synthetic “sodium nitrate and nitrite” and the natural, coming from celery or other natural sources. By USDA standards, the label “uncured” simply means the manufacturer did not use chemicals, instead used natural sources for the curing process.
When I was healing from Crohn’s disease, part of the healing process was an upgrade in my diet. I would eat gluten free bread, lavishly buttered with butter from pasture-raised cows, organic cheese and organic deli meat with naturally occurring nitrite from celery.” In my mind, my upgrade was healthier, was it?
According to Joseph Sebranek, Ph.D., Morrison Endowed Chair in meat science at Iowa State University whether synthetic or natural [nitrites and nitrates] the composition are the same along with the negative health effects.
Consumer’s Reports tested 31 packaged deli meats from nine companies for nitrites and nitrates. They found on average the levels of nitrites and nitrates were almost the same for cured and uncured meats.
If you are still eating conventional processed meats, it is not just the nitrites and nitrates that are problem, but the injections of sodium and other additives to plump up the the meat and make it look good enough to eat. Not to mention fake skins on sausage, and other bloating chemicals and synthetic flavorings. Oh why oh why would you want to eat this?
Why do we have to cure meat?
Meat is cured to keep bacteria from growing which can literally kill you. Some of the top concerns include;
On average, deli meats should only be kept in the refrigerator 3-5 days once opened. This is one example where the smell test will fail you. Listeria does not have an odour and you can’t see it, but it sits there quietly growing because the cold does not kill it. If you have purchased prepackaged luncheon meats or cold cuts there should be an expiration date, follow it. And, the best advice I can give you, and I live by, when in doubt, throw it out.
These are just 3 examples of the numerous microbes which can make their way in to our guts wreaking havoc and the argument for why deli meats need to be cured.
Can we eat ‘uncured’ processed meats?
I still believe you should opt for the healthier version of processed meats, hotdogs, deli meats and bacon. Why? Because typically when you look at the package you know what is in there.
Take a look at the difference between these two labels. The left is Applegate organic, humane raised, uncured and the other is Great Value, black forest ham, conventionally raised. Which one do you think is healthier?
I hope you said the left one. Remember, healthier processed meats are going to have better ingredients over conventional products. There will be naturally occurring nitrites, in this case using cultured celery powder, however, the conversion in the gut, may just be something your body can better utilize versus the synthetic ingredients. Not only this, take a look at the other ingredients, on both packages, which one do you think is the better choice?
Natural or organic deli, meat products typically use celery juice or powder to “cure” the meat because it can produce the similar coloring and flavor like conventional cured meats.
Any processed meats labeled “natural” or “organic” cannot be prepared with nitrites because “preservatives” are not allowed in those products.
Confusion between cured and uncured meat?
Have you seen “uncured” on the label of natural and organic products, such as deli meat, ham, bacon and hot dogs? How about “No nitrates or nitrites added”? They are cured, but with celery juice or powder. Celery contains naturally occurring nitrites.
Celery, along with other vegetables, including green leafy vegetables like lettuce, spinach, Bok Choy, and carrots and beets, do contain naturally occurring nitrites.
In fact, it is estimated 80% of dietary nitrites come from vegetables. There are studies showing nitrites from vegetables sources can help lower blood pressure and protect against cancer. Not to mention the amount of nitrites consumed is negligible. And, our body knows what to do with naturally occurring ingredients from foods that organically grow from the ground.
Nitrates and nitrites are also found in our drinking water mainly due to nitrogen-based fertilizers and animal waste getting into the water source, which happens quite often. Our own intestinal bacteria also produces nitrites.
Nitrites are produced endogenously through the oxidation of nitric oxide and through a reduction of nitrate by commensal bacteria in the mouth and gastrointestinal tract.
In our mouth, commensal gram negative bacteria on the tongue reduce salivary nitrates. Approximately 25% of ingested nitrate is secreted in saliva, where some 20% is converted to nitrite by commensal bacteria on the tongue. The metabolic activity of commensal bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract and probiotic bacteria also provide nitric oxide from nitrite, and to a lesser extent, from nitrate.
Can you cure your own meat?
If you want to take this one step further and avoid the whole delusion of processed meats and bacon you can cure your own meat. If you want to get adventurous check out Amazon, there are numerous books on naturally curing, drying and smoking your own meat, poultry and fish.
What if I don’t want to cure my own meat?
If you are less adventurous like me (yes, I am admitting “ain’t no body got time for that”) get quality meat like Butcherbox and make your own sort of. Hear me out.
I have been getting Butcherbox sent right to my door wherever I am parked. They have several boxes to choose from however, I get the ‘surprise me box’ ( I coined the name) better known as the Beef, pork, chicken box. Because I do not not order what I want, I get whatever they give me; hence the ‘surprise me.’ It’s about as on-the-edge-living the dangerous-side-of-life as I get! Well, that and living and driving a 45 foot motorcoach in city traffic. Butcherbox does offer boxes where you can pick out your own cuts of meat, poultry, pork and sea food as well as ready to heat-and-serve meals.
I do not cure the meat. Here, is what I do. I typically end up with big cuts of pork and beef roast. Since we are a family of two; I cook it up, and then slice it thin, wrap it up in non-bleached waxed paper and freeze into meal or lunch size. When I want to make a sandwich or add to a salad, I take what I need out of the freezer, It thaws super-quick. I believe it tastes way better than store-bought cured meat.
Before we sold our home and decided to live full time in a motorcoach, my daughter would come over to go “meat shopping” in my freezer. Gotta love the collage student! She would take “lunch meat” along with some other frozen goodies. Now that is she out in the working world, she has her own Butcher Box of goodies delivered right to her door.
One of my email subscribers in Alabama asked if they could get it there-Yes, you can. All across the USA. You can find out by going here to see if Butcherbox is servicing your area. In case you are wondering about bacon. I am not willing to give up my bacon. I love bacon. Bacon just makes everything tastes better, do you agree? Butcherbox bacon does not contain any of the synthetic ingredients or synthetic nitrites, just clean ingredients from humane raised pork and is uncured.
Guess what? Butcherbox has allowed me to give you $30.00 off of your first box plus free shipping (always) Check it out right now— all I can say is this deal has me shouting “Winner, winner, organic pastured-raised chicken dinner.”
What should I look for on the label?
Let’ get back to nitrates and nitrates. If the deli meat, hotdogs or bacon have nitrates, nitrites, sodium nitrites listed on the label, slowly, put the package back and walk away quickly and look for “uncured,” or “naturally occurring nitrites” on the package. Oh, and be sure to read the other ingredients. You want the one that is organic, from pastured-raised, and contains the least amount of ingredients on the label.
To recap, nitrites and nitrates are similar in that these compounds are inorganic composed of nitrogen and oxygen. Nitrites are found in water, vegetables and meat.
Regularly eating even small amounts of cured processed meats increases cancer and heart disease risk. If you are gong to consume deli or cured meats, look for “uncured,” “natural”, or “contains naturally occurring nitrites from celery juice or powder”.
Be sure to read the other ingredients on the label.
Make your own “deli meats” from pastured-raised meat such as Butcherbox, and thinly slice for sandwiches and such.
You have control of what happens in your body, by what you put in your mouth. What are you going to choose?