Death of the Bacon Sandwich
Even the super lean and super clean eaters will have had a heavy heart this week when the World Health Organisation announced the findings of its 20 year study into the effects of processed meat on the human body and its links to cancer.
Before the mainstream media goes into overdrive and has you cutting everything from your diet it’s time to stop, take a breath and learn the facts. I will be giving you a complete run down on the report and what it means in real terms for you and your health.
Part 1: Processed Meat
The study in question has been carried out over a 20 year period and has taken into consideration more than 800 studies into the effects of red/processed meat and its links to numerous types of cancer.
The conclusion was as follows:
“Processed meat was classified as carcinogenic to humans (Group 1), based on sufficient evidence in
Humans that the consumption of processed meat causes colorectal cancer”.
In real terms they concluded that 50g per day or more was sufficient to increase your risk of colorectal (bowel) cancer by 18%, with a higher consumption increasing the risk factor.
The study looked into the effects of processed meat and this was defined as any food that had been transformed through the manufacturing by processes such as salting, smoking, curing, fermentation, flavour enhancing and preservatives. Typical foods using this process include, bacon, hotdogs, beef jerky and meat based cooking sauces to name but a few.
Part 2: Red Meat
The second part of this study looked into the possible links between red meat and cancer. While focusing on the links to colorectal cancer observations were noted for pancreatic and prostate cancer as well.
The WHO board of 22 experts from 10 different countries classified the consumption of red meat as follows:
“Probably carcinogenic to humans, based on limited evidence that the consumption of red meat, Causes cancer in humans and strong mechanistic evidence supporting a carcinogenic effect”.
This study looked at a very big cross section of countries and diets and while its conclusions still require additional research in relation to red meat, it is a very strong indication that it’s time to look at your current intake of both red & processed meats.
So for the avoidance of doubt at this point processed meat has been proven to have links to cancer. The links between red meat and cancer are looking probable with strong indications, however this still requires additional research at this point. (Based on WHO report 26th Oct 2015)
Real World Advice
A good diet contains a healthy balance of carbohydrate, protein, fats, fiber and fruit and vegetables. Alongside processed food and red meat, sugar and fat recommendations are already being heavily scrutinized. A long overdue shake up on the current daily dietary recommendations is needed from the government to help the general public restore some confidence in their eating habits and stop the media and sadly fitness industry leading people astray with faddy diets and un-proven eating practices.
I know from experience that most people do know the fundamentals of healthy eating, however its confusion that has lead them down an unforgiving path.
The easiest way to navigate the confusion is to use common sense and moderation.
It might not be a magic bullet that many are seeking but it’s the answer everyone is looking for.
Keep your portion sizes under control, limit your alcohol intake and cut out all processed foods and those with added sugar. Don’t over consume on starchy carbohydrates and make sure you are hitting your 5+ a day fruit AND vegetables. Consume lean sources of protein such as chicken breasts, white fish and make sure you have sufficient healthy fats in your diet from oily fish like salmon and avocado. Drink plenty of water and make sure you are not getting hidden calories from you drinks.
Red meat and processed meats do not need to be cut entirely from your diet but it’s time to shift your thinking and consider these as occasional options and treats and not daily staples. This won’t play into short term gratification but will play a positive and leading role in long term health and well being.
Try This Today
So without following a diet, or counting calories this one little tip will help guide your dietary change. Next time you eating a meal or preparing a snack as yourself is this “Green Face?”
Green = Green vegetable or natural product.
Face = Did this food have a face or was it a natural source of protein (eggs, white fish, chicken etc.) i.e. non processed & now non-excessive amount of daily/weekly red meat.
This little tip will help you evaluate your eating habits very quickly and if it’s not “Green Face” then maybe you should consider why not. This obviously won’t answer every dietary issue you come up against but this technique is a positive step in the right direction.
I strongly believe that in time we will come to learn that that majority of illness and diseases in the modern western society are down to our unnatural and nutritionally inadequate diets.
Health is not found in a meal replacement bar, in a pill or by going under the knife.
This is a topic I feel truly passionate about and having been overweight and unhealthy I know how hard these changes are to make, but also the impact they have on your whole life when you can commit to them. I even named my business Fundamentally FIT base solely on the principle that I wanted to deliver my clients the “fundamentals” of good health and fitness, no gimmicks no fads, just the facts.
Real Food Real Results.
For more details from the full WHO report Click Here.