The Holy Bible advises against eating pork because it is an “unclean animal.” Leviticus 11:7 says: “And the pig, because it parts the hoof and is cloven-footed but does not chew the cud, is unclean to you.”
Many religious people follow this guideline, but Dr. Joseph Mercola says that regardless of your faith, you must take extreme precautions when including pork in your diet. This is because pork consumption has been associated with diseases like liver cirrhosis, liver cancer, and multiple sclerosis (MS).
Pork is High in Inflammatory Omega-6 Fats
Many advertising campaigns are now urging people to eat pork, labeling it as a “healthy alternative to beef.” But this type of meat may actually be hazardous to your health. One reason is that most pigs are given a diet that increases the amount of unhealthy polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs), like omega-6 fats, in their system.
In the United States, pigs mostly consume grains and seed oils, which greatly increase their omega-6 content, as well as arachidonic acid, the highly inflammatory byproduct caused by the metabolism of omega-6 fatty acid.
The Weston A. Price Foundation says that 32 percent of the lard from the pigs who consume this type of diet is made up of PUFAs. However, pigs raised on pasture and fed acorns had at least 8.7 percent PUFAs in their lard, while those who consumed a tropical diet that is rich in coconuts only had 3.1 percent PUFAs.
“Too many PUFAs contribute to chronic inflammation, which causes all sorts of problems over the long-term. Inflammation is at the source of just about every chronic disease we see today,” says Dr. Mercola.
This is why consumption of PUFA-rich meat may be a great risk factor of liver disease. Studies show that feeding mice corn oil (rich in omega-6) and alcohol (which is metabolically similar to fructose) induces liver disease. Omega-6 fats have also been linked to cirrhosis of the liver.
Eating Processed Pork is Dangerous to Your Health
Another problem with pork consumption is that Americans usually eat processed pork, which is preserved by smoking, curing or salting, or adding potentially harmful chemical preservatives.
Dr. Paul Jaminet, a trained astrophysicist who co-authored the book Perfect Health Diet with his wife Shou-Ching, says that U.S. pork consumption is composed of:
- Smoked ham (28 percent)
- Sausage (13 percent)
- Bacon (six percent)
- Processed lunchmeat (six percent)
- Other forms of processed pork (10 percent)
“Particularly problematic are the nitrates that are added to these meats as a preservative, coloring, and flavoring. The nitrates found in processed meats are frequently converted into nitrosamines, which are clearly associated with an increased risk of certain cancers,” Dr. Mercola explains.
This is why the USDA requires ascorbic acid (vitamin C) or erythorbic acid to be added to bacon cure to help reduce nitrosamine formation. In addition, cooking meat at high temperatures can also produce heterocyclic amines or HCAs, which are linked to cancer. Processed meats are also smoked during the curing process – this also produces carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.
Warning: Fresh Pork Is More Dangerous
Despite the connection between processed pork and diseases, Dr. Jaminet believes that liver cancer and other conditions are more strongly linked to consumption of fresh pork. This is because fresh pork contains an infectious pathogen that leads to many diseases.
Pigs consume just about anything alive, sick, or dead, making them a breeding ground for potentially dangerous infections. Even prolonged cooking of pork cannot kill the retroviruses and parasites that the meat harbors. Some examples of dangerous infections and viruses found in pork include:
- Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) – It attacks the swine’s immune system and exposes its body to many infections, especially in the lungs. Initial research says that the virus is transmitted via semen, saliva and blood, but recent studies say it can also be airborne.
- Nipah Virus – Discovered in 1999, it is said to cause deadly encephalitis (acute brain inflammation).
- Porcine Endogenous Retrovirus (PERV) – PERV genes are found throughout a pig’s genetic material. The animal’s heart, spleen, and kidney cells can release PERV virus strains. A study published in the journal Lancet says that PERV can infect human cells and can spread to people who receive pig organ transplants.
- Menangle Virus – Discovered in August 1997, this causes pigs to give birth to deformed and mummified piglets. In 1998, it was found that the Menangle virus can affect humans as well.
“While pork is arguably ‘good’ meat from a biochemical perspective, I believe there is enough scientific evidence to justify the reservations or outright prohibitions in many cultures against consuming it,” says Dr. Mercola.
Is It Advisable to Consume Pastured Pork?
Dr. Mercola does not advise consuming pork – it is NOT included in his nutritional plan. He even advises against pasture-raised pork. A study in Emerging Infectious Diseases raises concerns about Trichinella spiralis infection in pastured pigs, which they acquire from exposure to wild hosts. (link)
If you are determined to eat pork, though, he recommends buying pork that has been raised on vegetables, not grains. He also advises you to check the CDC map to find out where Trichinella spiralis infection outbreaks have occurred.
“Other than that, I would simply recommend you consider avoiding pork altogether, even organic pasture-raised versions, in favor of healthier and safer protein sources, like organic grass-fed beef, lamb, bison, and chicken,” says Dr. Mercola.