A while back a student contacted me for facts on why people should not eat pork as she was writing a paper on the topic. I found it quite ironic that she was telling other people not to eat pork without understanding the facts herself. This got me thinking about the topic in general. Is eating pork 'good' or 'bad' for you?
Many people don't eat pork for social, cultural and/or religious reasons. Although there are a plethora of sketchy explanations as to why pork should be eliminated from the diet, many of the most commonly professed have not been substantiated by sound science. I personally haven't touched pork in over 10 years. It simply tastes too good and I have little or no control once I get started.
What most people don't know, however, is that pork is one of the most overly consumed meats by humans. Of all meats that we eat on a regular basis, pork is also one of the most difficult to digest. Just one serving of lean pork can take up to six hours to digest. Most people consume 2-3+ servings in one sitting and, oftentimes, more than once a day, which can dramatically delay the digestive process.
Furthermore, fatty and overly processed cuts of pork like bacon and ribs take even longer to digest yet they are the most commonly consumed. Eating bacon for breakfast, having a ham sandwich for lunch and pork chops for dinner several times a week is definitely going to cause major trouble in your digestive system.
The Real Problem
Pork is a problem when it is consumed in excess (more than one serving, twice a week). Excessive consumption of pork is most problematic because of the ways in which this slow-to-digest food affects the overall digestive process.
In general, foods that digest quickly (fruits and vegetables) are held in the stomach until slowly digesting foods are released into the small intestines. During this time, the quickly digesting foods begin to ferment which can produce gastrointestinal disturbances (gas and indigestion).
In the case of pork, consuming multiple servings in a day or even in a week can lead to a severe back up in the digestive system. This back up can make it difficult to absorb essential micronutrients from foods (malabsorption). Over time, undigested foods will putrefy in the stomach and small intestines leading to toxicity in the body. Again, this stuff happens when pork is consumed in excess.
When it comes to pork consumption moderation is key—no more than one 3-ounce serving twice a week. Such a serving of pork is about the size of a deck of cards or a bar of soap.
Consuming lean cuts (tenderloin, loin center steak, or shoulder blade boneless chops) in moderation can actually be beneficial as pork is a rich source of protein as well as vitamins and minerals including thiamin, niacin, selenium, zinc and phosphorous.
If you don’t have the discipline to regulate your intake of pork this way, you may find it most beneficial to fully abstain from eating it.
Disclaimer: The information provided is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Any reader who is concerned about his or her health should contact a physician for advice.
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