Is red meat consumption linked to colorectal cancer? It is one of the most debated topic in recent years. Bowel Cancer Australia Nutritionist Teresa Mitchell-Paterson’s recent statement strengthen this argument about red meat.
How much red meat can be consumed?
For her it’s about how much red meat we are consuming. If we are consuming 500 grams of red meat or 500 grams of red meat combined with processed meat like bacon, salami or sausages per week, that’s the amount we try to stay below.
In order to make sure that we are not going over 500 grams, she recommends to see the size of our hands. According to her, our palm should be taken as a measurement of how much red meat we can have. She says ”You can have two palms’ worth a week of 3-4cm thickness.That is two steaks, or one steak and some ham, so you can see how quickly you would get to 500 grams.”
The World Health Organisation in their last iteration said the amount of red meat that can be consumed should should not exceed 500 grams. But now they have decreased it to 300 grams.
Why Red Meat is not good for your Bowel?
The normal time taken to digest a food is 24 hrs. But depending on the type of food consumed this duration can increase. It is said that red meat may take around four days to digest.
If you’re burning the red meat for charring a sausage on the barbecue, the meat used may undergo some chemical changes in regards to fat and iron. It will release some bad compounds like polycyclic aromatic, hydrocarbons, heterocyclic aromatic amines and N-nitroso compounds which can turn highly toxic in the bowel itself.
Mitchell-Paterson says”These chemicals sit against the bowel wall and, in a way, they irritate it. This can cause an increase in inflammation, a quicker turnover of cells and the potential for cancer to become evident in that area”
A step towards healthy habits!
We cannot prevent bowel cancer ,but however we can reduce the risk of getting this cancer by making small changes in our lifestyle and food habits like spending 30 min for daily exercise, consuming fiber rich food, reducing the consumption of red and processed meat, quiting smoking and reducing alcohol consumption etc. Remember! A small step towards healthy habits can make big changes in your life!