There is no doubt that smoked meats are absolutely delicious. Smoking meat using wood pellets, wood chips, or wood chunks, paired with a low and slow smoking process enhances the meat’s texture and flavor, creating an unmatchable meal.
There’s no denying that smoked foods are better than traditional grilling, but did you know that eating too much smoked meat can cause various health issues? 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 protect yourself from these hazards.
Why Do We Smoke Meat?
Before we dive directly into the reasons you might be getting sick after eating smoked meat, let’s talk about why we smoke meat in the first place. Did 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 the meat by reducing moisture. Excess moisture can accelerate the growth of fungi and bacteria in meat, which ultimately ruins the quality of the food.
In addition, there is no doubt that the smoking process adds an extra flavor to the smoked meat, improving its texture, color, and taste. It’s safe to say that with so many 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, smoked meat can be bad for your health if not done correctly. While smoked meat can be healthy because it uses less oil, the wrong wood type or heating technique can actually make it carcinogenic which can lead to various health problems.
If you eat smoked meat occasionally, you may not suffer from these health risks. However, if you’re eating smoked meat daily, or if smoking is your only method of cooking food, you might notice some stomach problems developing.
So, Why Does Eating Smoked Meats Make Me Unwell?
There are a few reasons why you might be feeling sick after consuming smoked meat. Let’s take a look at a few.
Carcinogenic Substances or By-Products
We hate to break it to you but smoked foods have carcinogenic substances like 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.
When we consume any smoked or grilled meat, the accumulation of these by-products may cause stomach pains, upset stomach, and even stomach cancer in extreme cases.
Smoked meat may also be linked to several bacterial infections. For instance, it might be contaminated with Listeria or Clostridium botulinum, resulting in a foodborne illness.
Clostridium botulinum can cause extreme vomiting, slurred speech, muscle weakness, and double vision. Unfortunately, Botulism is a very serious illness that can even cause sudden death. Be sure to research proper smoking techniques to avoid this deadly bacteria.
Listeria infection is another infection that is quite painful and damaging to health. It can lead to fever, neck pain, stomach pains, cramps, and severe weakness. This infection can be quite dangerous for young children, elderly individuals, and pregnant women.
If you cook your smoked meat correctly to appropriate internal temperatures, you shouldn’t have to worry about contracting these deadly infections.
High Sodium Content
If you experience high blood pressure or suffer from heart disease, 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 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.
Increase Diabetes and Stroke Risk
According to this study conducted at the Harvard School of Medicine, 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 foods is often linked with joy, flavor, and delicious juiciness. But how would you feel if we told 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 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 typically cold-smoked, it may contain 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, especially if not cooked properly.
Why Does Smoked Meat Upset 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. It’s best to only use two to three wood chunks and let the charcoal catch fire. Placing too many wood chips on the charcoal the entire 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 after 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 you would apply before putting the meat on the grill. You can try this experiment with beef, pork, chicken, and even turkey.
- 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.
Keep an eye on all the common symptoms of bacterial infections and consult a doctor without any delays.