Nutritionist takes a bite at mighty meat debate

A NUTRITIONIST has taken a bite at the mighty 'meat debate' that's been making headlines this week.  

The International Agency for Research on Cancer this week announced processed meat has been classified as a 'definite' cause of cancer and red meat is a 'probable' cause. 

We asked a Hervey Bay nutritionist Nikki Boswell, who has a website The Kids Menu, if meat really is as bad as they are claiming. 


The experts concluded that each 50 gram portion of processed meat eaten daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 18%, should this be a concern for people eating processed meat?
The links between processed meats and cancer are concerning at a population level, but individuals that eat processed meats certainly don't need to panic but rather become more aware of the effects of their dietary choices on their health and take this as an opportunity to rethink their eating habits and make some positive changes in the future.

Red meat has been classified as "probably" carcinogenic. Should we be limiting our meat intake per week and to how much?
It is great that the concerns regarding red and processed meat consumption has caught the attention of the media and is being recognised by the WHO, but this is not new evidence and is consistent with the current Australian Dietary Guidelines which recommends the limited intake of red and processed meats.

With regards to processed meats, these should be treated the same as other highly processed foods and eaten "only sometimes and in small amounts" as indicated on the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating.

The Eat for Health website also explicitly states;

"Beware that smoked, salted and preserved foods from this food group, such as ham, bacon and salami, are usually higher in saturated fat, salt, and contain chemical properties that may be responsible for increased health risks.  Because of this, most of these food choices are placed in the discretionary food group, and consumption of these foods should be limited."

Meat is in the headlines yet again
Meat is in the headlines yet again

As for red meat, the Australian dietary guidelines recommend a maximum of 7 serves of red meat per week for an adult, keeping in mind that a serving is only 65g of cook meat (about 90g raw) - about the size of your palm.

Australians have a tendency to consume large portions of meat and generally exceed the recommended 2 -3 serves of meat or alternative per day so most of us could stand to cut back on our meat intake.

The IARC's report suggests that eating 50g of bacon every day would raise your risk from 64 in 100,000 to 72 in 100,000. Are there alternatives people should be replacing bacon with?
There is no doubt that bacon is delicious but unfortunately that doesn't justify eating it every day; save it for specially occasions and really enjoy when you have it.

You are able to purchase Nitrate free options bacons and hams (I believe there is a butcher in Gympie who will deliver to Hervey Bay), but these are still high in salt and saturated fat, so again should be considered a sometimes food.

Great alternatives to processed and red meats in general are seafood which are generally very lean, high protein and boast other great health properties like omega 3; poultry and eggs, nuts, seeds and legumes.

It is also important to be award that cooking meats until they are charred, such as on a BBQ, creates carcinogens and should be avoided. When you do choose to consume meats, turn down the heat and cook the meat slowly to minimise charring and burning.

Meats have been reclassified into "Group 1", "carcinogenic to humans". That means that there is "sufficient evidence in humans" that eating large quantities raises the risk of bowel cancer, what your thoughts are on this?
It is estimated that in 2015, 17,070 new cases of bowel cancer will be diagnosed in Australia (Cancer Australia).

Bowel cancer is Australia's second biggest cancer killer in Australia, claiming the lives of 3,980 people every year.

Given these statistics it is really important that people not only become aware of the link between process and red meat and cancer but take on board the messages of the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating which not only recommends limiting red meat, categorises processed meats as a 'discretionary' or 'some times' food, but promotes the intake of fruit and vegetables, wholegrains and legumes which are packed with phytonutrients which are cancer protective as well as fibre - the best friend of a healthy bowl. 

Whilst the population exceeds the recommended intake of meats and alternatives, we are dismally failing to eat enough fruit and vegetables (about 95% of people)- current population data shows that as a population we are just not following these healthy eating message.



Allan Smith: "They announced round up causes cancers and tumours yet It's still used on and around food crops. Maybe someone should look into what types of chemical or "treatments" these cows have come in contact with."

Pete Connor: "Still injecting your babies with formaldehyde, Mercury.. Yet worried about a bit of meat!"

Allan Kirkegaard: "Tell me what doesn't cause cancer everything eat drink or use mobile phone stand under power lines what's next going come up with if all believed half this stuff be dead anyway because starve to death."

Les Allen: "I normally have cereal, but when i heard about this, i cooked myself a great breakfast."

Steve Jones: "What about all the chemicals they spray on veggies they can't get all of them off by just rinsing them."

Gillian Hume: "Just a load of crap. It probably cost millions for them to do this research. Next month it will be something else that's no good for us."

Topics:  health hervey bay meat nutrition

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