Cured Meats and the Paleo Diet

Dr. William Campbell Douglass is a different type of physician. He really wants people to get better. Because of that he is considered controversial. In fact he’s been called “the conscience of modern medicine”. His insight into human health is unique and worth considering. He is definitely not mainstream. I really enjoy his writing style too – no nonsense or beating around the bush! Although he’s never mentioned the Paleo diet, from his writings I would think he would approve.

In the article below. he’s addressed the issue of nitrates and nitrites in cured meats. It turns out that they do not cause cancer and may in fact be good for us. I know that they are not particularly paleo, but we do embrace bacon, which is also not paleo (really, can you imagine Grok curing a side of bacon?) Maybe it’s okay to have some hot dogs once in a while.

Hot dogs in heated water – NYC Hot dog cart – also known as "dirty water dogs". Photo by rollingrck on Flickr

Don’t eat that! You’ll get CANCER!

How many times have you heard that irritating bit of naggery over hot dogs, bacon, ham, and other cured (and delicious) meats?

Next time you hear someone repeat that tired old myth, take your hot dog and shove it right in his mouth — like a cork, to keep it shut.

I’m half kidding here because I don’t advocate wasting hot dogs — especially since they may be in more demand than ever now that a new study lets them off the hook as far as cancer risk is concerned.

Researchers tracked more than 300,000 volunteers for a decade, using a 124-item food questionnaire to calculate how much nitrate and nitrite they had in their diets.

Those are the demonized preservatives used in hot dogs and cured meats that have been “linked” to pancreatic cancer. But don’t believe the hype, because the researchers found absolutely no difference in risk among women. Among men, the difference was so small the researchers chalked it up to chance.

Now, I’ll be the first to say a food questionnaire isn’t the best way conduct research — but all the supposed evidence linking nitrates and nitrites to cancer is even weaker than a wet bun.

And if you think that goes against everything you’ve heard, consider this: Those same nitrates and nitrites the mainstream has accused of causing cancer are actually GOOD for you!

Nitrites can form nitric oxide after you ingest it — and nitric oxide in your body can save your life during a heart attack.

One study found that mice fed extra nitrates and nitrates had 48 percent less cell death after a heart attack. What’s more, 77 percent of these mice survived the attack — versus just 58 percent of mice on a low-nitrate/nitrite diet.

That’s not all.

Researchers from the National Institutes of Health have been testing sodium nitrite as a treatment for everything from anemia to aneurysms, and the early word is promising … Read full article here…

Perhaps the biggest issue here is not the nitrates and nitrites in the cured meat, but how the animal was raised. The standard hot dogs in the supermarket are not from pastured animals. It is possible to get terrific hot dogs made from grass fed beef from US Wellness Meats and from other grass fed outlets across the country. Cured meats and the Paleo diet may not be at such odds after all. As Dr. Douglass says, “Eat the dog — but skip the bun.”

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One Response to Cured Meats and the Paleo Diet

  1. Paleo Irish January 18, 2012 at 2:33 pm

    Thanks for doing hotdogs and nitrates :) I was hungrily looking at salami the other day in a corner store wondering about all those nitrates and I bought it anyway so now I can rest assured that it probably won’t do me any harm.

    I can get nitrate-free bacon every now and then when I make a thirty minute drive north of me to a butcher who rears his own free-ranging pigs on an island with very little intervention. He also sells his own cured bacon with some nitrates in it and I have to say his is the loveliest bacon (rashers as we call it in Ireland) around.