Oct 26, 2015

Spices can help you eat better

Picture of calf nuzzling to a human's hand
My thoughts on animal protein, more animal pettin - less animal protein.

I can say with quiet confidence, that spices help satiate you better and eat more vegetables and lower your animal protein intake. In a non-scientific study involving one participant (me), this has been tested for the past three years and has helped me balance the amount of animal protein needed as well as lower my carbohydrate intake, to cope better with an ageing metabolism. 

An article came out this week in the New York Times (NYT Mobile) (Full article) based on the World Health Organization (WHO) study, detailing the findings on correlation between cancer and red meat as well as processed meat.

Based on that the press release on the
Red meat After thoroughly reviewing the accumulated scientific literature, a Working Group of 22 experts from 10 countries convened by the IARC Monographs Programme classified the consumption of red meat as probably carcinogenic to humans (Group 2A), based on limited evidence that the consumption of red meat causes cancer in humans and strong mechanistic evidence supporting a carcinogenic effect. This association was observed mainly for colorectal cancer, but associations were also seen for pancreatic cancer and prostate cancer.  
Processed meat Processed meat was classified as carcinogenic to humans (Group 1), based on sufficient evidence in humans that the consumption of processed meat causes colorectal cancer.
Red meat refers to all types of mammalian muscle meat, such as beef, veal, pork, lamb, mutton, horse, and goat. Processed meat refers to meat that has been transformed through salting, curing, fermentation, smoking, or other processes to enhance flavour or improve preservation. Most processed meats contain pork or beef, but processed meats may also contain other red meats, poultry, offal, or meat by-products such as blood. Examples of processed meat include hot dogs (frankfurters), ham, sausages, corned beef, and biltong or beef jerky as well as canned meat and meat-based preparations and sauces. 
A summary of the final evaluations is available online in The Lancet Oncology, and the detailed assessments will be published as Volume 114 of the IARC Monographs. 

I have personally never consumed much red meat in my life (a handful of occasions) sheerly due a cultural consciousness that did not lend itself to choosing meat from such mammals. However, even the white meat consumption which I had picked up in my life about 10 years back based on the advice of a doctor, was limited to the 3-4 times eating out at Mexican or Thai restaurants. At most Indian, Italian and Middle eastern restaurants, I always found myself choosing more spicy vegetarian options. Again, I used to alternate between vegetarian and chicken options at Thai restaurants.

The key point for me was that, in Mexican restaurants, I could order a 3 taco plate, and have only one of them with meat. But in a lot of the Italian restaurants, the meat entree meant a full portion of meat, or a full chicken breast - which was more than what was needed perhaps.

So, the quick summary is that it is probably good to reduce your meat intake and flavor it more. Again, this is purely my opinion based on what has worked for me. One should always figure out what is the best combination based on several factors - current health, fitness regimen, cost, access to other substitutes, genetic predisposition/family history and other cultural factors.

But remember, spices help flavor even the most bland vegetables more, so they can increase vegetable consumption and your stomach has only a standard amount of room.

Calf image courtesty: Flickr user: bagsgroove (image).

A downloadable postcard size image is provided below free!

Additional Resources:
Clairy: http://scienceblog.cancerresearchuk.org/2015/10/26/processed-meat-and-cancer-what-you-need-to-know/

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