Deliciously Deadly: How Processed Meats Harm Us

When you ask anyone what their favorite breakfast is, it’s almost always the same: hotdogs, bacon and ham. What do all three of these have in common? All of these are processed meats. Despite processed meats being linked to cancer, obesity and heart disease, it remains a staple in our diets. The processed meat consumption of Americans has remained the same for the last 18 years and shows no sign of improving. Regulating the meat industry and continuous education should be put in place to uplift public health. However, it seems that business interests always come first before the greater good. 

In light of education, we should first discuss the reason why processed meats are harmful to our health. Processed meats like ham, bacon and luncheon meat are almost always a brightly colored pink. From a consumer point of view, the pinkness of a ham signifies its freshness. What we don’t know is that this coloration is unnatural. If we were to cook a fresh piece of pork, it turns a light grayish brown in color, which, for food industrialists, is unappealing therefore unsellable to the market. The pink color of these meats come from an additive called sodium nitrite. 

Listed by the World Health Organization as a carcinogen, sodium nitrite is an industry staple that is injected onto meats to give it its bright pink color. So how does sodium nitrite wreak havoc on our bodies? First, the nitrite molecules react with meat proteins as our gut digests the meat. Then, this reaction creates a sinister substance called nitrosamines. Nitrosamines induce damage in the large intestines. It is also known to induce breaks in our DNA which mutate cells into pre-cancer cells. A study has found that an increased consumption of processed meats significantly increased the exposure to nitrosamines, which immediately resulted in less compact cells that will most probably mutate into pre-cancer cells. 

Because processed meats are convenient, tasty and affordable, it is no wonder that they have become woven into our diets. However, there is mounting evidence of processed meats causing colorectal cancer, the third most common cancer in the United States, and the second deadliest of cancers. Many factors can affect one’s cancer risk, but according to the American Cancer Society (ACS), 55 percent of colorectal cancer diagnoses in the United States are attributed to controllable lifestyle factors, first of which is avoiding or eating less processed meats. Processed meats usually contain high amounts of fat and sodium, with little to no nutritional value. The additives and chemical preservatives that are injected in the meats and the heat used in the process culminate into an end product that is devoid of the enzymes, vitamins and nutrients that are essential to our bodies. That is why frequent consumption of processed meat also causes other deadly lifestyle diseases like obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. 

Scientists and experts have been calling for the ban of nitrates in the meat processing industry, but have failed to do so against Big Meat with their teams of lobbyists and paid “experts.” Meat industrialists have forged their way into government to affect policies surrounding nitrite use. Today, despite the overwhelming evidence linking cancer and processed meats, nitrite use remains legal and widespread, to the detriment of public health. 

Beyond the chemicals and preservatives used in processed meats, it is also productive to cast doubt on the practices before the meat enters the factory, in other words, livestock. Industrial livestock farming is driven by the high yield production of meats, poultry, dairy and other animal products. Animals are treated as commodities and live in overcrowded, often unsanitary conditions, conditions that foster disease, bacteria and viruses that can possibly pass on to humans. Many animal protection organizations across the globe have brought to light issues on animal cruelty inside industrial livestock farms and its environmental implications. Animal agriculture is actually the highest methane producer, and the largest greenhouse gas emitter. The meat industry is also one of the leading causes of soil erosion, which opens up a ton of other issues like devalued crops and low nutrient food products. 

The many disadvantages of consuming processed meat should be enough reason for us humans to seek better alternatives. Completely ditching processed meat is no easy feat, especially because they’re often cheap and convenient. We just have to strike a balance between indulgence and control, and luckily, Koso Med Products can do just that. Koso Med specializes in the preservation of enzymes, vitamins, minerals, nutrients, prebiotics and probiotics in fresh, organically grown fruits, herbs and vegetables through fermentation. Their centuries-old, traditional Japanese process is patented, which utilizes 52 strains of friendly soil bacteria that eliminate the need for artificial preservatives and heat, which destroy the integrity of the fresh produce. Fermentation acts as a predigest of the solids making all the goodness easy for the body to absorb. Not only will Koso Med Products supplement a healthier diet, it can detoxify the body from all the additives and chemicals like sodium nitrite, making it the best companion to a nutritious and health-conscious diet. 

With that being said, replacing hotdogs with real food for your breakfast is the safer, more ethical way to go. Ditching sausages, luncheon meats and bacon for freshly chopped beef and pork will benefit your health without sacrificing the taste that we crave. Shopping locally for fresh produce is one way of not only being a healthier option, it also supports small farmers. These individual lifestyle changes can truly save us from a lot of pain in the long run by ensuring our best health and quality of life.