Doctor's Note

In response to a CDC study linking Spam consumption with diabetes, the president of the American Meat Institute recently defended processed meat, stating that “93 percent of human nitrite intake comes from vegetables and human saliva–not from cured meats. If nitrite were the issue, then one would think the vegetables would be the cause of the diabetes, yet no one is suggesting that association.”

This is the first of the eight videos on figuring out this apparent conundrum that will close out my three-week series on the cardioprotective (see Hearts Shouldn’t Skip A Beet) and athletic performance-enhancing benefits (see Doping With Beet Juice) of nitrate-rich vegetables.

For a review of the relationship between nitrates and nitrites, see Priming the Proton Pump. So far, there have been only a few precautionary notes (see Asparagus Pee). What about this nitrite issue? As I say at the end of the video, stay tuned! In the meantime, see my other videos on processed meat.

For more context, check out my associated blog post: Using Greens to Improve Athletic Performance.

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  • Michael Greger M.D.

    In response to a CDC study linking Spam consumption with diabetes, the president of the American Meat Institute recently defended processed meat, stating that “93 percent of human nitrite intake comes from vegetables and human saliva – not from cured meats. If nitrite were the issue, then one would think the vegetables would be the cause of the diabetes, yet no one is suggesting that association.” This is the first of the 8 videos on figuring out this apparent conundrum that will close out my 3-week series on the cardioprotective (see Hearts Shouldn’t Skip A Beat) and athletic performance-enhancing benefits (see Doping With Beet Juice) of nitrate-rich vegetables. For a review of the relationship between nitrates and nitrites, see Priming the Proton Pump. So far there have only been a few precautionary notes (see Asparagus Pee). What about this nitrite issue? As I say at the end of the video, stay tuned! In the meantime, I have a few videos on processed meat and hundreds of other videos on more than a thousand subjects that you can check out.

  • LouiseF

    Wow! A good old fashioned cliff hanger, reminiscent of
    who shot J.R! Although, this is much more interesting!
    LouiseF

    • Michael Greger M.D.

      Sorry for all the suspense Louise!

  • LouiseF

    No problem, the wait will be character building.

    On another note, I saw your “Latest in Nutrition DVD Vol. 3” in the Cocoa Beach Library today. Yea! There is hope for humanity. All libraries should have your dvds.

    Louise F

    • Michael Greger M.D.

      I agree! If anyone wants to approach their local public library with the offer I’d be happy to send them a free set.

  • derbym

    Thank you so much for your website! I spent all last weekend and now this weekend watching your videos and reading your blog. I have been so perplexed and pulled this way and that over nutrition issues. I trust you and feel I have found some sound reasoning in all the chaos. I will be coming here for my research first from now on.

  • mdickerson

    Dr Greger,
    does this mean that I should not eat salad dressing on my salad when I add a meat toppling or bacon bits…No tuna salad topping with mayo?…

    • Toxins

      You should not be adding these foods to your salads anyway. Bacon, fish and mayonnaise are quite harmful foods.
      http://nutritionfacts.org/videos/bacon-and-botulism/
      http://nutritionfacts.org/videos/research-into-reversing-aging/

      • Roy Walker

        What is bad is a carbonated sugar filled drink, or any foods fried in seed oils, and any of the 80% of foods in a supermarket with added sugar/fructose, or an endless diet of modern fructose filled fruit. get rid of seed oils, fast food outlets and the 80% of “healthy foods” with added sugar. Tax these franken foods to the hilt, then use that tax money to subsidise real whole foods.

        • @nsmartinworld

          No, let people make up their own minds about what to eat, what religion to follow, or what sex to have, without government meddling. These are private matters.

          • David Sprouse MS PA-C

            The only issue with this argument is that choices involving religion/sex don’t negatively affect other people to any significant extent. Making poor dietary choices, on the other hand, negatively affects health, which in turn we *all* pay for (through higher insurance premiums and higher burden on the health care system). Taxes on foods/beverages with virtually no nutrionally redeeming qualities is one way to offset these costs and subtly discourage consumption while still maintaining the freedom to choose them.

          • @nsmartinworld

            “choices involving religion/sex don’t negatively affect other people to any significant extent”

            At first I thought you were kidding, and then I thought you are too young to remember the worst years of the AIDS epidemic. Now I think you are just astonishingly unaware of the disease toll of sexually transmitted diseases.

            Promiscuous sex, notably in the case of people who got HIV at glory holes and bathhouses, has cost many billions of tax dollars to treat and to care for the suffering and dying. Every working day government clinics diagnose and treat a variety of STDs at taxpayer expense. As antibiotics lose their effectiveness, some STDs, like gonorrhea, are becoming untreatable. In centuries past syphilis was a major killer around the world.

            No battles in history has raged as long or violently as those over religion. Establishing religious freedom, which was not protected in the colonies, was a primary goal of the major Republican founders. Religious believers have long believed that heretics radically harm society in many ways. The profound harm of religious conflict has been voluminously documented, and you may be vaguely aware of the Holocaust.

            What people do with their own bodies is a private matter. They may ingest useful or useless treatments, mainstream or alternative, but what they ingest is not proper government business. The FDA thinks that nutritional supplements are sufficiently dangerous that they should be available only by prescription. I think it is none of the FDA’s business what health products people buy and use, but nanny staters think otherwise.

            Health choices are as personal as religious choices, and governments, which are themselves responsible for an enormous amount of death, should not dictate what we eat and drink. (Prohibition of drugs and alcohol have led to enormous death tolls due to violence.) As Thomas Szasz argued, there should be a wall of separation between government and medicine.

          • David Sprouse MS PA-C

            Sorry, but I think you’re missing the point entirely. If I’m Catholic/Protestant/Muslim/atheist, it doesn’t affect my next door neighbor (unless he chooses to be a bigot). I’m not talking about history, I’m talking about the present. Same goes for choices regarding sex (I was talking about sex preferences, not sexual behavior, although for instance you can be successfully sued for not informing a sex partner that you have a sexually transmitted infection).
            Again, poor health choices affect everyone through higher health care costs, unless you abolish health insurance entirely (which may sound like a great idea until you get sick).

          • @nsmartinworld

            Your last paragraph confirms my point. Many risky behaviors, including driving cars, have socialized costs due to government policies. If that is a reason for the state to regulate human behavior, then we will live in what amounts to a health concentration camp. Szasz called it the “therapeutic state.”

            If you choose to ignore the realities of history and medicine, then that’s your choice, but my points about religion and STDs are amply documented.

          • David Sprouse MS PA-C

            I’m talking about a tax on soda and donuts, you’re talking about concentration camps and killing people for religious beliefs. I just don’t see us coming together on this one.

          • @nsmartinworld

            Exactly. You are an advocate for government coercion, but you prefer to ignore where that has taken humanity before. You pretend that that is just one small detail when it is part of a much larger picture of government control of private, consensual behaviors. When government officials become the overlords of private behavior, there is nothing like freedom and responsibility. This is a country in which large numbers of people have been involuntarily sterilized because they were considered a detriment to the common good. It’s a country with an enormous number of laws that interfere with peaceful private acts, mostly for the reason that paternalists always invoke: our private choices affect others. You ignore the fact that what many people — including those who like this web site — consider to be good health practices, are considered bad health practices by the health establishment and public officials. If you concede that the government has the right to manipulate (or ban) what it considers harmful health practices, it is going to use a sledgehammer, not a surgical laser. Today it will push to limit sugar intake, and tomorrow it will make nutritional supplements available only by prescription.

            Fundamentally, you reject the right to self-ownership which is the basis for all rights and liberty.

          • David Sprouse MS PA-C

            Yes, I get your argument that a tax on donuts today = dystopian hellscape tomorrow. We’re going to have to agree to disagree on this one.

          • @nsmartinworld

            “Well then, maybe it would be worth mentioning the three periods of history. When man believed that happiness was dependent upon God, he killed for religious reasons. When he believed that happiness was dependent upon the form of government, he killed for political reasons . . . After dreams that were too long, true nightmares . . . we arrived at the present period of history. Man woke up, discovered that which we always knew, that happiness is dependent upon health, and began to kill for therapeutic reasons . . . It is medicine that has come to replace both religion and politics in our time.” — Adolfo B. Casares, “Plans for an escape to Carmelo,” New York Review of Books, April 10, 1986, p. 7.

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    For some context, please check out my associated blog post Using Greens to Improve Athletic Performance!

  • http://www.justbelowthesurface.com Food Freedom

    Hello Dr. We have a problem with high nitrates in oour tap water. Most is agricultural pollution entering our waterways. Does the nitrate in water also turn into nitrosamines in our bodies? If so, is there evidence that mitrates in drinking water produces cancer?

    • Roy Walker

      There is evidence that a high sugar/carb diet, coupled with high fats, and protein is harmful.How to totally ruin good food, take piece of chicken, roll it in flour, then deep fry it at high temperatures in some man manipulated, seed oil, and call that food. roast that same piece of chicken, add some potato and greens, now that is healthy food, and just as tasty, want a little more fat slice some avocado up, or add a little butter to the potato, or pour a little, olive oil over the food. Jeez I should be charging for this common sense advice.

      • Thea

        Roy Walker: I understand why you want to rely on your common sense. But this is why NutritionFacts is so important. “Common sense” comes from our feelings. Our feelings are influenced by information we received when we were growing up, the media messages we get today, culture, etc. Unfortunately, “common sense” is not always a reflection of reality. NutritionFacts brings us the science so that we can improve our understanding of reality / how nutrition affects our health. While your common sense tells you otherwise, we know from a large number of compelling studies that chicken, butter and olive oil (regardless of the form of cooking) are generally unhealthy choices compared to whole plant foods.

        I invite you to use the search box at the top of the NutritionFacts page or look at the “Health Topics” page to learn what the science tells us about each of these foods that you feel good about before knowing the science. Alternatively, check out the Summary videos at the bottom of the home page. That will give you a great overview/starting place.