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Sodium Nitrates and Nitrites

By Deena Hamza

What are sodium nitrates and nitrites? Well, simply put, they are preservatives (aka chemicals) that are added to processed meats to prevent the meat from turning grey. Since all meats are “cooked” through some process, it’s strange to see the bright red hue they exhibit. Nitrates and nitrites convert into nitrosamines in the stomach, and nitrosamines have been shown to cause cancer in animals when consumed in large quantities. Does this mean that nitrosamines will cause cancer in humans? Not necessarily. Animal studies demonstrate a correlation or association between factors (nitrosamines and cancer risk) that may ultimately prove valid in human studies. I’ll keep you updated on the latest research.

Convenience foods are flooded with these kinds of preservatives and as a general rule, everyone needs to eat foods as close to nature as possible in their most unadulterated form. Would I recommend eating deli meats to one of my clients? No. But, there are pre-packaged deli meats that do not contain nitrites but again, contain other preservatives.

Ever wonder why a pack of deli meat lasts for weeks in the fridge, while a piece of home cooked steak doesn’t? Digestive processes in your body have a harder time digesting preserved foods, and the transit time from stomach-intestines-colon is increased. The longer foods wait in the digestive system to be broken down, the more bacteria are formed and have a longer time to ferment. This is the essence of the dietary intake to disease incidence cycle.

So, my Precious Gents: Who’s up for a smoked beef sandwich or homemade egg salad? I know you will all make the right decision. Until next time my (health-conscious) Gents of Preciousness! ~DEENA

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