A) Most processed meats throw off your omega-6:omega-3 ratioProcessed meats fed from soy and corn also have extra omega-6 oils. The correct balance of omega-6 to omega-3 fats is essential to optimizing your health and reducing your risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, depression, Alzheimer’s, and rheumatoid arthritis. According to anti-aging researchers, the minimum ideal ratio of omega-6 oil to omega-3 is 4:1, but the typical Western diet is between 20:1 and 50:1 because people consume far too many processed and fried foods like vegetable oils and industrial meat. After I started eating totally Bulletproof, my omega-6: omega-3 ratio dropped to 1.28:1.4
Although all meat, even grass-fed, contains some omega-6’s, processed, cured, and overcooked meats contain higher levels of oxidized toxins in omega-6’s called 4-Hydroxynonenal (HNE). These toxins are absorbed into your tissues and cause inflammation, which drastically increases fat oxidation in your cells.5
This is one reason the Bulletproof® Diet recommends grass fed meat that is carefully prepared at lower temperatures. It’s also one reason most studies on meat consumption and health are woefully inadequate – they fail to consider how the meat is cooked.
B) Dry-cured meats are breeding grounds for mycotoxinsMold toxins are common contaminants of all industrial meat, but there are even more in dry-cured meat products.6 Mold toxins, also known as mycotoxins, are damaging compounds produced by various molds and fungi. In addition to causing poor human performance, they can also cause cancer, brain damage, and heart, liver, and kidney disease. High performance people should minimize all routes of exposure.
C) Bad gut bacteria mixed with processed meats may decrease insulin sensitivityYour gut bacteria help to maintain your health, partly by maintaining the intestinal barrier that prevents toxins from entering your bloodstream. Bad gut bacteria actually form new toxins from processed meats, and increase their ability to enter your body.
Poor quality processed meats tend to be pumped with antibiotics that are harmful to gut flora. Studies show that antibiotics cause a profound and rapid loss of diversity and a shift in the composition of the gut flora that can not be recovered without dietary interventions.7
Nitrates in processed meat, especially bacon, get a lot of attention. Although processed meat contains up to 50% more nitrate than unprocessed meat, nitrates themselves are only a problem when you have bad gut bacteria. With an imbalanced gut flora, diabetes experts say that nitrates lessen the release of insulin, which reduces glucose tolerance and increases risk of diabetes. This negative effect on glucose levels helps explain why Harvard researchers found that eating just one serving a day of processed meats (i.e. two slices of salami or a hot dog) was linked to a 20% increase in risk for diabetes.3
Bad gut bacteria will also make nitrosamines from dietary nitrate. See below for more…
D) Nitrosamines in processed meats are linked to increased risk of stomach cancerSwedish researchers found a higher risk of stomach cancer among those who ate processed meat.8 In Hawaii, researchers followed participants for seven years and concluded that those who ate the most processed meat showed a 67% greater risk of pancreatic cancer over those who did not eat processed meat.
The best way to avoid nitrosamines is to avoid overcooking processed meats, or insist on eating grass fed meat cooked on low heat. If you do choose to eat processed meats on occasion, you can help prevent nitrosamine formation in the body by taking at least 250 mg of vitamin C with your meal, or a lot more. (I do at least 1 gram.) Vitamin C with red meat can increase iron absorption. Increased iron levels (ferritin levels) are correlated with diabetes. Elevated iron levels are not normally an issue for menstruating females, but men should get their iron levels tested regularly, or just donate blood every 3-6 months.9