There is no doubt that smoked meats are quite delicious. The wood pellets and low and slow smoking process enhance the smoked foods’ texture and flavor and help create a beautiful bbq spread.
That said, do you know that the smoke produced during any smoking procedure can cause many health issues? Besides, people who overindulge in smoked food may witness unnecessary health effects.
Unfortunately, eating smoked meat frequently can lead to problems like stomach pain, high blood pressure, and even worse, stomach cancer. But there are many ways in which you can save yourself from these hazards.
So, if you have been feeling unwell after consuming nice and well-cooked smoked meat, we will help you understand the reason and guide you on how to feel better again. Read the article below for all the details.
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Why Does Smoked Meat Make Me Sick?
Why Do We Smoke Meat?
Before we dive directly into the reasons behind your unwell health state, let’s find out that why do we smoke meat anyway. Do you know that smoking helps to preserve food? It is one of the oldest methods that help to increase the overall life of meat.
Smoking prevents fungal and bacterial growth on any meat. In addition, it makes the food dry by eliminating all the moisture. Excess moisture can accelerate the growth of fungal and bacteria on smoked meat, which ruins the quality of the food.
In addition, there is no doubt that the smoking process adds an extra flavor to the smoked meat that helps improve its texture, color, and taste. So, it is safe to say that with so many unique and easy preservation methods available today, smoking meat is mostly used to increase the value of the meat’s flavor than to keep it safe from different microorganisms.
But is Smoked Meat Bad for You?
Well, it can be bad if the smoking method isn’t human-friendly. While smoked meat is healthy as it uses less oil, a wrong wood type and heating technique can make it exceptionally carcinogenic. This can lead to different health problems.
If you eat smoked meat occasionally, you may not suffer from these health risks. But since no smoking technique is 100% safe, you need to worry about your overall consumption.
So, Why Does Eating Smoked Meats Make Me Unwell?
There are many reasons as to why you might be feeling bad after consuming smoked meat. Take a look at a few:
Carcinogenic Substances or By-Products
We hate to break it to you but smoked foods have cancer-causing substances named carcinogens. These are called Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and Nitrosamines, which can be quite toxic.
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and other by-products are produced after the meat is cooked on a direct flame, resulting in various chemical reactions.
So, when we consume any grilled meat, the accumulation of these by-products may cause stomach pains, upset stomach, and even stomach cancer at times.
Smoked meat is linked to several bacteria. For instance, it might be contaminated with Listeria or Clostridium botulinum, resulting in a foodborne illness. Clostridium botulinum can also cause extreme vomiting, slurred speech, muscle weakness, and double vision.
Unfortunately, Botulism is a very serious illness that can even cause sudden death. So, before things get out of your control, consult a doctor immediately.
On the other hand, listeria infection is quite painful too. It can lead to fever, neck pain, stomach pains, cramps, and severe weakness. Besides, this infection can be quite dangerous for young children, elderly individuals, and pregnant women.
Interestingly, pasteurization and cooking help kill any bacteria. But listeria grows and lives in an area surrounded by cold temperatures, so it can easily attack smoked processed meats available at a manufacturing plant.
High Sodium Content
If you experience high blood pressure or are suddenly attacked by heart diseases, know that these problems might be caused by the high-level sodium present in smoking meats. Most smoked meats are usually brined using a salt solution before being seasoned with salty rubs. The excessive salt content increases the level of sodium you ingest which causes many different illnesses.
Sodium is an electrolyte and also a mineral. While it helps maintain the balance of water in our bodies, high levels of this mineral can lead to cardiovascular disease, obesity, and even kidney issues. In addition, you may also suffer from overhydration.
Increase Diabetes and Stroke Risk
According to a Harvard school study, consuming processed meats or smoked food such as cold cuts and hot dogs increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, strokes, and many other heart diseases. Of course, it is okay to consume smoked meat in moderation, but overindulgence in processed food can lead to these painful and long-lasting health problems.
Can Smoked Meat Also Cause Cancer?
Eating bbq is often linked with joy, flavor, and delicious juiciness. But how would you feel if we tell you that while daily bbq parties are fun, smoking food can increase the chance of stomach cancer?
As stated above, smoked red meat has high levels of heterocyclic aromatic amines, one of the biggest reasons for human cancer. In addition, a gas smoker produces smoke that contains polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. This substance combines with heterocyclic amines, present in well-cooked meats, and together they increase the chances of stomach cancer.
When you consume this meat, your body’s enzymes metabolize these substances, and this process creates some by-products. The by-products further ruin your DNA which then may cause cancer.
Can Smoked Fish Make You Unwell?
Yes, similar to most smoked meat, smoked fish also increases the risk of cancer. Besides, since it contains higher levels of sodium than cooked fish, it can damage your body in many ways.
In addition, since salmon is cold smoked, it doesn’t cook properly at low temperatures. As a result, it often has bacteria that can cause some serious food poisoning. This means that smoked salmon can be dangerous for older adults, pregnant women, and individuals with weak immunity.
In a nutshell, while smoked salmon may taste good, it isn’t a healthy smoked food option.
Why Does Smoked Meat Upsets My Stomach?
Have you ever experienced diarrhea, cramps, and extreme pain in your stomach right after a nice bbq lunch? While the above reasons may cause these issues, bad smoke can also trigger many health risks.
To avoid this problem, use high-quality charcoal for your smoker. In addition, just use two to three wood chips and let the charcoal catch fire. Once it does, remove the chips immediately and enjoy a steady white or grey smoke.
Placing the wood chips on the charcoal all the time may produce continuous bad smoke, which isn’t good for the food and is also not healthy for your body. Even inhaling this smoke for a long period can harm your lungs.
So, instead of keeping the chips for a long time, cover the lid of the smoker. This way, your smoked meat will turn out just the way you want it.
So, What Should You Do to Avoid the Health Risks?
A summer lunch is incomplete without a bbq but reading through the problems smoked meats can cause; you might now want to consider your food intake. However, you can save yourself from health risks by following a few tips.
- Heat your meat before consuming it. This way, you can reduce the chances of any foodborne illness.
- Reduce your intake of smoked red meat to 18 ounces per week. In addition, avoid processed meat as much as you can.
- Instead of smoking meat, try non-smoked meat using the same seasonings as you would apply before putting the meat on the grill. You can try this experiment with beef, pork, chicken, and even turkey.
- While seasoning, non-smoked meat uses sauces rich in coconut aminos. In addition, include a drop or two of liquid smoke to create a delicious smoky flavor without any health risks.
- If you want to consume smoked meat only, try rubs and seasonings that do not include high sodium levels. For instance, choose sodium varieties that do not contain nitrates. Nitrates and salts are not good for your heart and blood pressure, so make sure to take that seriously.
- Lastly, if you are unable to handle any pain, consult a doctor as soon as possible. It is better to find a cure before the situation gets out of your hand.
Who doesn’t love eating smoked meat? Of course, we all do, but make sure you consume it in moderation. An excess of smoked meat can cause many health problems that can get quite serious as well. Unfortunately, stomach cancer is one of them.
Moreover, if possible, use only two to three wood chips while smoking your food. Also, keep all the vents of your smoker open so that no bad smoke can enter your lungs and cause any suffocation.
Finally, keep an eye on all the common symptoms of bacterial infections and consult a doctor without any delays.