The World Health Organization released a report on Monday linking processed meats to cancer – and everyone proceeded to freak out. I could almost hear all the hearts beating against the bacon strips people desperately held against their chests after hearing the report.
But you guys. Honestly. Meat causing cancer is old news. How do I know?
Because 221 of 226 reports demonstrate positive relationships between processed and red meats with increased colorectal cancer. And this is information I learned and studied over 2 years ago.
By now you must realize, animal protein can be harmful to your health.
Should I quickly explain why? Ok fine, but I’ve been drinking so bare with me… Let’s start with what cancer is and how it’s formed. Cancer is the growth of unwanted cells. These cells get fed in the process of angiogenesis (the development of new blood vessels,) which grow and feed diseased tissues and cells. Angiogenesis is the disease common denominator. And guess what is associated with the process of excessive angiogenesis? Yep – you guessed it – a diet high in flesh foods (meat intake) and and low in vegetables.
Let’s break down angiogenesis a little further: imagine a river system
As more and more rivers connect or flow into a common area (which we will compare to the network of blood supply going into a particular cell,) they create a lake (which we compare to a cancer cell.) To stop the excessive flow into this lake, you start putting dams or blockades, (which we compare to following the anti cancer diet, eating vegetables, less red meat, etc.) This will now make it difficult for the rivers to connect and create our large, metaphorical cancerous lake.
So which is the worst of all the animal proteins? Red meat.
I decided to give Samson Magid – a University of Miami alum with a Masters in Nutrition and Human Performance – a call to explain why.
“Red meat has a very similar amino acid composition to human flesh (love that) so when you eat red meat and digest it, your brain thinks that your human flesh is being broken down. It’s like, ‘Oh fuck, we’re going to die if my flesh keeps getting broken down.’ So your body releases IGF1 (insulin-like growth factor 1) which causes unwarranted cell growth – code for cancer.”
Oh and one more thing… NEUGC, a chemical found in animal meat but not produced by humans, also promotes the formation and growth of cancer.
Basically, our bodies weren’t meant to eat meat, especially not red meat. But let’s face it, if you’re a guy, you go hands-deep on a plate of wings and order your steaks large, rare, and often. If you’re a woman, you fuck with happy hour at Buffalo Wild Wings, too. And we’ve all gone into a UM football game just for a relish and mustard-covered hot dog, or two.
So I’m not here to judge – I wouldn’t do that. Because while I truly care about nutrition, I’ve also consumed two hot dogs and one cheeseburger in the past 48 hours. So, we’re in this together. I’m here to tell you not only about the “anti-cancer” diet’s general views and lifestyle recommendations, but also how and when it’s ok to indulge in a nice filet accompanied by some Cabernet.
If you can’t stop eating red meat, here’s how to eat it with a lower risk for cancer:
Microwave the meat:
If you microwave red meat for 1-2 minutes before grilling, you can eliminate 100% of the HCAs (heterocyclic amines, which are carcinogenic substances/ tar-like substances also found in cigarette smoke.)
Clean the grill before using, or use tinfoil:
The char on a grill that can get on meat also contains HCA, so wipe that shit off!
Do not prepare meat well-done:
Well-done meat has 3.5 times more HCA than medium-rare meat. If you grill any meat at high temperatures, it produces HCAs.
Marinate your meat:
The Cancer Research Center Of Hawaii discovered that a teriyaki marinade reduced HCAs by roughly 67%. www.mindbodygreen.com And I recently confirmed that it is damn delicious.
Add some green to your burger: Leafy veggies help flush out HCA.
Eat red meat after exercising:
After you work out, amino acids cross the blood barrier and tell your brain that muscles are breaking down.
And, since red meat is similar to our body meat, we produce more IGF1 (insulin-like growth factor 1). Now, if you didn’t just complete a work out, there is no place for the IGF1 to go except to other unwanted cells (that don’t need to be growing.) HOWEVER, if you have recently worked out, IGF1 will actually help repair your muscle tissues.
Moral of the story: eating red meat after a workout can replenish muscle, but eating red meat while sedentary will confuse IGF1. They won’t have anywhere to bind and will go other places, like cells, to promote the growth of cancer.
And if that doesn’t work: combat angiogenesis (cell growth) with:
The Anti-Cancer diet:
Why care? Because diet accounts for 30-35% of what causes cancer.
Wait, is there a way to eat to starve cancer? YES.
1. Consume more red grapes, strawberries, and tea which all inhibit the formation of cancer cells.
2. Practice adequate, not excessive caloric intake: Consume around roughly 1,200-2,000 calories, dependent on your activity level, age, and gender.
3. Consume greater than 10 servings of vegetables a day: Cancer cells HATE vegetables more than the 8-year-old version of yourself did.
4. Consume greater than 4 servings of fruit per day. Berries contain compounds that can help with the growing or spreading of cancers. Fun fact: blueberries (and other plants with purple and blue pigments) contain powerful antioxidants called anthocyanin that have been shown to lower blood pressure and increase heart health.
5. Get some sun→ Vitamin D: About 15 minutes per day. No worries – you guys get it walking to class, so you’re good.
6. Reduce obesity: Fat is highly angiogenesis-dependent. Diseases correlated to obesity have started to overtake smoking as the leading cause of death.
7. Take in those good ol’ omega 3’s:associated with reduced risk for cancer. Examples are salmon, edamame, and walnuts.
8. Less sugar→ sugar also feeds cancer cells.
9. Carotenoids: found in carrots, apricots, watermelon, grapefruit, and tomatoes.
10. Sulforphane: found in broccoli.
11. Folate: found in green leafy vegetables.
12. High levels of fiber: For women: 25 grams per day. For men: 35 grams. Fun source: sweet potato fries
13. Men: eat tomatoes: research has found that eating tomatoes may help men protect themselves against prostate cancer. (Most effective to not cook the tomatoes and put in a fun sauce instead to let the antioxidant called lycopene take over to help lower your risk of cancer.)
Overall, too much flesh food (animal protein) is associated with disease and increased mortality. So here’s what you can do: practice moderation, combat rapid cell growth with the anti-cancer diet, and be conscious of the fact that 30-35% of what causes cancer is related to your diet. Be aware, be thoughtful, but also be happy. Life’s too short to always say no to a Big Mac.
Sources: Dr. Wes Smith (KIN 221), http://www.webmd.com/diet/estimated-calorie-requirement, http://www.everydayhealth.com/cancer-photos/top-foods-to-fight-cancer.aspx#04, http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-13850/heres-how-to-avoid-carcinogens-when-youre-grilling.html, https://www.angio.org/learn/angiogenesis/