Bacon is a beloved breakfast food for many, but did you know that it can also make you sick?
From food poisoning to acid reflux, gout to cancer, there are several reasons why bacon might not be the best choice for your health.
In this article, we’ll explore the various ways in which bacon can make you sick and what you can do to minimize your risk.
So sit back, grab a cup of coffee, and let’s dive into the world of bacon and its potential health hazards.
Why Does Bacon Make Me Sick?
There are several reasons why bacon can make you sick. One of the most common is food poisoning. Even though bacon is salt-cured to prevent soiling, it is still possible to get food poisoning from undercooked bacon. Eating undercooked bacon can cause illnesses such as toxoplasmosis, trichinosis, and tapeworms. Symptoms of bacon food poisoning can include nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and fever.
Another reason why bacon can make you sick is due to its acidic nature. Bacon has a pH that ranges from 5.20 to 6.12, which means that it is acid-forming once processed and has an acidic effect on your body. Consuming bacon on a daily basis and in excessive quantities may aggravate acid reflux and GERD symptoms. Bacon is also high in fat, which slows digestion and leads to an increase in stomach acid production. Overcooked bacon can become even more acidic and upset your stomach more, as overcooked meats release chemicals and molecules that promote inflammation in the stomach and esophagus.
Too much bacon can also cause an attack of gout. Bacon is high in purine, which the body converts to uric acid. If uric acid builds up too quickly and cannot be eliminated, it deposits as crystals in the tissues, causing intense joint pain, swelling, redness, and possible temporary immobility.
Bacon and other processed cured meats typically contain nitrites and nitrates, preservative compounds that improve the quality of meats and extend their shelf life. When exposed to high heat, both nitrites and nitrates can form nitrosamines, a known carcinogen. A regular diet of processed meat can increase a person’s risk for colorectal cancer. Eating two thick bacon slices daily increased the risk of colorectal cancer by 18%, according to the Journal of Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics.
Lastly, eating uncooked or undercooked bacon can expose you to bacteria as well as parasites and cause either bacterial infections or trichinellosis, a parasitic infection. Bacterial infections and trichinellosis can both cause gastrointestinal symptoms.
Food Poisoning From Bacon
Food poisoning from bacon is a serious concern that can cause severe symptoms and even hospitalization. Raw bacon can contain harmful bacteria such as Salmonella, Listeria, and E. coli, which can cause food poisoning. Symptoms of food poisoning from eating raw bacon can include fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps. In severe cases, food poisoning can lead to hospitalization or even death. Pregnant women, young children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems are especially susceptible to food poisoning from raw bacon.
Even if bacon is cooked, it is still possible to get food poisoning if it has gone bad. Spoiled bacon can contain harmful bacteria such as Escherichia coliformi (E. coli) and Staphylococcus aureus, which can cause food poisoning. Signs of spoiled bacon include an off-color, slimy texture, a bad odor, and mold growth. If you see any of these signs, do not eat the bacon as it may contain harmful bacteria.
Symptoms of food poisoning from spoiled bacon can include stomach cramps, severe abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, high fever, and diarrhea. If you are unsure whether your bacon has spoiled or not, it is best to discard it to avoid the risk of food poisoning.
To avoid the dangers of food poisoning from bacon, always make sure to cook your bacon thoroughly until it is crisp. If you are unsure if your bacon is cooked enough, err on the side of caution and cook it a bit longer. Better safe than sorry! Additionally, always store your bacon correctly to decrease the chances of getting sick. By taking these precautions and being aware of the risks associated with eating raw or spoiled bacon, you can enjoy this delicious treat without putting your health at risk.
The Link Between Bacon And Cancer
Processed meats like bacon have been classified as carcinogenic by the World Health Organization. This means that consuming processed meat can increase your risk of developing cancer. Bacon contains high levels of sodium, nitrates, PAHs, HCAs, and AGEs, all of which may increase your risk of cancer. In particular, research has linked increased sodium intake with a higher risk of stomach and lung cancers. Additionally, eating more than 700 grams of red meat a week increases your risk of bowel cancer. For every 50 grams of processed meat eaten per day, the risk of developing bowel cancer goes up by 1.18 times.
Furthermore, research has found a strong association between eating processed meat and an increased risk of oesophageal cancer called oesophageal adenocarcinoma. The link between oesophageal adenocarcinoma and bacon is inflammation, with compelling evidence showing inflammation drives Barrett’s oesophagus to cancer. People with Barrett’s oesophagus should be particularly wary of eating bacon due to their increased risk. As AGEs found in bacon are potent inflammatory molecules linked to increased cancer risk, the exceptionally high levels of AGEs in bacon may pose a particular risk for oesophageal inflammation and oesophageal adenocarcinoma.
Finally, nitrites and nitrates in bacon can form nitrosamines when exposed to high heat, which are known carcinogens that can increase the risk for colorectal cancer. Eating two thick slices of bacon daily increased the risk of colorectal cancer by 18%. Therefore, it is best to limit your consumption of processed meats like bacon to reduce your risk of developing cancer.
Bacon And Acid Reflux
If you suffer from acid reflux or GERD, bacon may be a food to avoid. Bacon is high in fat, which can slow down digestion and cause an increase in stomach acid production. This increase in stomach acid can lead to acid reflux symptoms such as heartburn and regurgitation. Bacon is also acidic, with a pH that ranges from 5.20 to 6.12, which can further aggravate acid reflux symptoms.
Overcooked bacon can be even more problematic for those with acid reflux. Overcooking meats can release chemicals and molecules that promote inflammation in the stomach and esophagus, making it more likely for acid reflux symptoms to occur. Additionally, the preservatives used in processed cured meats like bacon, such as nitrites and nitrates, can form nitrosamines when exposed to high heat. Nitrosamines are known carcinogens and can increase a person’s risk for colorectal cancer.
If you are a bacon lover but suffer from acid reflux, there are ways to still enjoy this food without experiencing discomfort. Opt for leaner cuts of bacon and cook it until it is crispy to reduce its fat content. Pair your bacon with non-acidic foods like eggs or whole wheat toast. It’s also important to limit your intake of bacon and other processed meats to reduce your risk of developing cancer and other health issues.
Gout And Bacon Consumption
Gout is a type of arthritis that occurs when there is an excess of uric acid in the body, leading to the formation of crystals in the joints and tissues. Bacon consumption can be a trigger for gout attacks due to its high purine content. Purines are broken down into uric acid, which can accumulate in the joints and cause inflammation and pain.
While bacon consumption alone may not cause gout, it can contribute to an increased risk of developing the condition. Patients with gout should limit their consumption of high-purine foods, including bacon, to prevent flare-ups. It is recommended that patients with gout avoid meats such as bacon, turkey, veal, venison, and organ meats like liver.
In addition to its high purine content, bacon is also high in fat and sodium, which can contribute to weight gain and high blood pressure. These conditions can exacerbate gout symptoms and increase the risk of developing other health problems.
To reduce the risk of gout attacks, patients should limit their consumption of bacon and other high-purine foods. Instead, they should focus on consuming low-fat dairy foods, complex carbohydrates, coffee, and fruits (especially citrus). Drinking plenty of fluids from a variety of sources such as water, non-sweetened juice, tea, and coffee is also beneficial for managing gout symptoms.
It is important for patients with gout to work closely with their healthcare providers to develop a personalized treatment plan that includes both medication and dietary modifications. By making lifestyle changes and taking prescribed medications as directed, patients with gout can manage their symptoms and improve their overall quality of life.
Minimizing Your Risk Of Getting Sick From Bacon
If you want to continue enjoying bacon but minimize your risk of getting sick, there are several steps you can take. First and foremost, always cook your bacon thoroughly. Cooking bacon to a temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit will kill most bacteria and parasites that may be present. It’s also important to avoid overcooking your bacon, as this can increase its acidity and promote inflammation in your stomach and esophagus.
When purchasing bacon, look for options that are nitrate-free or contain lower levels of nitrates. Nitrate-free bacon is often labeled as “uncured” or “no nitrate or nitrite added.” However, be aware that some of these products may still contain high levels of nitrates from natural sources such as celery juice or powder.
Consider reducing your overall consumption of processed meats, including bacon. Try incorporating other protein sources into your diet, such as lean cuts of pork, chicken, fish, or plant-based options like tofu or beans. If you do choose to eat bacon, enjoy it in moderation and balance it with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.