The young son is eating the same roast beef as the rest of his family tonight. For breakfast, they all ate bacon and eggs together. But for lunch, the son ran across the street from his school for a hot dog or hamburger or maybe he bought one in the school lunch program. Having seen them advertised on television, the parents are convinced that these are completely natural foods and that their son is getting proper nutrition.
What they’re not being told about the processed meat they think is perfectly nutritious is that it may be made in part from the carcass of a diseased animal.
When an animal has cancer, very often the meat cutters will cut out and throw away the cancerous organs and then send the rest of the carcass on for processing. In one year alone, 2.4 million cattle whose livers were cancerous or tubercular were sent on for packaging as meat. Not a very appetizing thought!
Do you notice that the child seems a bit restless at the table? Depending on whether his hot dog was labeled all meat, frankfurters or wieners, or imitation frankfurters, he may also have ingested artificial flavoring in his lunch. Artificial flavors and preservatives can cause hyperactivity in certain allergic children. Monosodium glutamate, which can cause a headache and dizziness, may also have been present. Sodium nitrate, dextrose, water, and a wide variety of animal products are some other common ingredients. Under the law, these products can contain upward of 15 percent nonmeat ingredients, including artificial flavorings, colorings, and preservatives.
Even all-meat frankfurters may contain pork, lamb, and goat in any proportion and up to 15 percent chicken. The child would probably not have found it appetizing to learn that his frankfurters could contain animal products such as beef lips, pork lips, snout, tail gristle, blood, and lungs. If there were chicken in it, it might take the form of ground chicken skin, chicken fat, or even pulverized chicken bone.
Mother thought she was saving money by giving her son less than a dollar for a hot dog lunch. She saw it as an inexpensive lunch for her children considering that it contained protein. It is important for her to learn that a) it’s not quality protein and b) it’s expensive protein. A hot dog may contain over 50 percent moisture. Thirty to forty percent of it is fat. That leaves around 10 to 13 percent of the hot dog as protein. Consumer Reports has calculated that the average cost of one pound of protein from hot dogs is from $6.98 to $7.94 a pound. That’s no saving!
It’s a bad buy in terms of health, as well. Hamburgers, hot dogs, bologna, and other sliced luncheon meats are extremely vulnerable to rampant bacterial growth. When the grinding machines break down the beef or pork into tiny pieces to make processed meats, that causes the cells to break down and the fluids in the cells to be released. The semiliquid medium that results is the perfect environment for bacteria to breed. In fact, food scientists generally agree that the bacteria count of the average piece of meat is about 10 million per gram. This means that putrefaction has begun to set in. Consumer Reports analyzed thirty-two brands of USDA-inspected hot dogs and found 40 percent of the brands tested had begun to spoil. Some bacteria are grown in airtight containers, and some airtight containers are not really airtight. Thus, that hamburger for lunch may be contributing to the child’s vulnerability to infection.
Nitrites, Anemia, and Low Blood Pressure
The husband who likes his bacon in the morning with his eggs may not be aware that the morning protein is loaded with nitrites and other preservatives, as are the bologna, hot dogs, or salami his family eats for lunch.
Nitrites make meat red. In its natural form, the meat would otherwise turn to a putrid gray.
Have you ever noticed if you cut your skin, the blood first comes out red because of the oxygen in it, and then it oxidizes and turns purple? It loses oxygen and coagulates.
That is similar to what happens when they slaughter an animal. It turns bright red immediately after slaughtering, then purple-gray. As they process the meat it eventually becomes a gray-blue color.
Once they put sodium nitrite into the meat, the nitrite is broken down into nitrous acid which combines with the hemoglobin in the meat to form a permanent red color.
Unfortunately for all of the people sitting at this table, there is no difference between the way the nitrites interact with the blood of the dead carcass and the way they might interact with the human beings who eat it. They function by inactivating a certain percentage of the red blood cells that carry oxygen through the body. In children, this is especially dangerous because it can produce a condition called methemoglobinemia inactivated hemoglobin. If too many red blood cells are inactivated, severe poisoning and sometimes death can result. This has actually occurred when children have eaten highly nitrated hot dogs containing as many as 200 parts per million nitrates.
In addition to small children, anemic people are extremely susceptible to methemoglobinemia, as are people with low blood pressure.
In fact, the grandmother might have been to a doctor who used sodium nitrite as a prescription to lower her high blood pressure! The therapeutic dose that the physician probably gave her was about 30 milligrams, the amount legally allowed in one-third pound of meat or fish.
Even if you don’t have high blood pressure, your blood pressure could be lowered for up to two hours after eating meat or fish containing legal levels of nitrites. That is only part of what the husband is not seeing which could account for his midmorning fatigue.
Suppose he’s eaten four strips of bacon for breakfast, not an uncommon amount! The nitrite level could be extremely high in the bacon, so he’s had a portion of his hemoglobin inactivated and he may be fatigued, tired, and sluggish not energetic and competitive like that cowboy image he admires so much.
Nitrites and Cancer
Something else that would truly shock and surprise this family is that nitrites are known as one of the three ingredients which can combine in the stomach to form nitrosamines. Nitrosamines have been known to induce cancer in rats; every type of cancer in all types of rats. It only takes tiny amounts as small as two parts per million. Experiments conducted at the Oak Ridge Laboratory by Dr. William Lijinsky showed that nitrosamines are one of the most formidable, versatile, cancer-causing substances ever discovered.
Nitrosamines are created when there is a mild acid solution consisting of nitrites and amines together. Beer, wine, tea, cigarette smoke, fish, and cereals all contain amines. So do some prescription drugs, including oral contraceptives, antidepressants, tranquilizers, analgesics, nasal decongestants, antihistamines, and diuretics. Nitrites and amines come together to form nitrosamines in the stomach like a perfect test tube case. Think of what happens when the husband has a beer with his ham sandwich. Nitrites from the ham sandwich combine with amines from the beer and he’s eating nitrosamines. The wife smokes a cigarette after her corned beef sandwich and she’s increased her cancer risk more than she knows.
Grandmother, as mentioned, has high blood pressure, and the rest of the family believes they have inherited a genetic predisposition for it. In reality, grandma’s high blood pressure may be caused entirely by her diet. The saturated fats contained in meat are not the only problem. She’s lived in the United States all her life. Imagine how many hamburgers and hot dogs she’s consumed over the years.
Did you know that a hamburger with relish, ketchup, and a pickle could contain over 3,000 milligrams of sodium? That hot dogs, too, are loaded with sodium, both from sodium nitrite and regular salt?
We only need, on average, 250 to 800 milligrams of sodium a day. Many people get 10,000 to 15,000 milligrams!
The resulting epidemic of high blood pressure should be no surprise. All this extra sodium can damage the kidneys. Your kidneys filter waste materials from your blood and control blood pressure. They need the right level of sodium to function well.
This whole family is not only gorging themselves with more protein than they need which can also hurt the kidneys but they are also consuming far too much sodium in the process.
Hot dogs, hamburgers, sausages, salami, bologna, and luncheon meats are as American as apple pie but so are hyperactivity, high blood pressure, and cancer. Unfortunately, these phenomena are connected.
The connection is in the chemicals added to processed foods. Many children are sensitive to the artificial dyes, flavors, and preservatives in these foods. Hyperactivity or other allergic symptoms may result.
One group of coloring agents is particularly dangerous. Nitrites keep meat red by combining with hemoglobin and they can affect human as well as porcine blood, causing a form of anemia called methemoglobinemia. Nitrites are used pharmacologically to lower blood pressure; they do the same thing whether in a pill or a hot dog. On the other hand, sodium nitrite or sodium chloride (table salt) can raise blood pressure and damage the kidneys.
Still worse, nitrites combine with amines (present in cigarette smoke, fish, cereals, and many common prescription and over-the-counter drugs) to form highly carcinogenic nitrosamines.
Nor are there any advantages to eating processed meats. They are so high in water and fats that the small amount of protein they contain is actually quite expensive. Furthermore, they often contain ground-up remains of cancerous animals and unappetizing parts like lips, snout, tail, gristle, blood, and lungs.