No matter how you think about it, pigs are a rather dirty animal. They are considered the scavengers of the farm, often eating anything they can find. This includes not only bugs, insects, and whatever leftover scraps they find laying around, but also their own feces, as well as the dead carcasses of sick animals, including their own young. For as intelligent as they seem to be, they sure do eat nasty stuff.
This in itself can explain why the meat of the pig can be so dirty or at the very least not so appetizing to consume. And while being ‘grossed out’ may or may not be a valid reason not to eat something, it’s vital to understand a bit more about pork before reaching your own conclusion.
Pork 101: Know the Facts
Pork is one of the most consumed meats in the world. China is the largest producer of pigs, having first domesticated them way back around 7500 B.C.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that more than 100 viruses come to the United States each year from China through pigs. There are some obvious concerns about this. Aside from not needing more viruses to fight off, some of these viruses can prove to be downright dangerous to humans.
Of course you’re probably familiar with H1N1, better known as ‘the swine flu.’ This is one of those dangerous viruses made worrisome by its ability to make the leap from pig to human.
But H1N1 is not the only disease to fear from the pig. There are other sicknesses the pig offers us.
Is Pork Meat Toxic?
Pork meat is loaded with toxins, more so than most other meats like beef and chicken.
There are reasons that the meat of the pig becomes more saturated with toxins than many of its counterpart farm animals. The first reason has to do with the pig’s digestive system.
A pig digests whatever it eats rather quickly, in roughly four hours. On the other hand a cow takes a good twenty-four hours to digest what it eats. During the digestive process, animals (including humans) ideally get rid of excess toxins as well as other components of the consumed food that could be dangerous to health.
Since pigs’ digestive system operates on a very basic and rapid level, many of these toxins remain in their system, stored in their more than adequate fatty tissues, ready for our consumption.
Further limiting the pig’s ability to eliminate toxins is that it doesn’t have any sweat glands, a tool other animal bodies use to rid toxins
I don’t have to tell you that when you consume pork meat, you too are getting all these toxins that weren’t eliminated from the pig. None of us need more toxins in our systems. In fact we should all be doing what we can to eliminate and cut down on toxin exposure. One vital way to do this is by choosing what you eat carefully.
Trichinellosis, Pork Meat, and Your Health
Did you know that pigs carry a variety of parasites in their muscle tissue? Some of these parasites are difficult to kill even when cooking. This is the reason there are so many warnings out there about eating undercooked pork.
One of the biggest concerns with eating pork meat is trichinellosis or trichinosis. This is an infection that humans get from eating undercooked or uncooked pork that contains the larvae of the trichinella worm.
This worm parasite is very commonly found in pork. When the worm, most often living in cysts in the stomach, is opened by the pig’s stomach acids, its larvae are released into the body of the pig. These new worms make their homes in the muscles of the pig. Next stop? The unknowing human who consumes this infected meat flesh.
Trichinellosis is a serious illness that you should do virtually anything to avoid.
Common Symptoms of Trichinellosis:
» Swollen eyes
» Muscle pain
» Aching joints
» Coordination problems
» Heart issues
» Breathing problems
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) these symptoms can last for weeks and in more serious cases, several months.
The CDC recommends thorough cooking of pork as well as freezing the pork meat prior to cooking to kill off any worms. I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel good about eating anything that I first have to kill off its worms before I can eat it.
As an interesting history tidbit, an American researcher theorized that trichinellosis was the cause of Mozart’s rather sudden death at age 35. After studying the documents recording the days before, during, and after Mozart’s death, the researcher found that Mozart suffered many of the above listed symptoms and that Mozart himself had recorded in his journal the consumption of pork just forty-four days before his own death.
(If you want to read more on this intriguing story you can find it in the Archives of Internal Medicine’s June 2001 issue.)
But that’s not all….
Pigs are primary carriers of:
» Taenia solium tapeworm
» Hepatitis E virus (HEV)
» PRRS (Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome)
» Nipah virus
» Menangle virus
Each of these parasites and viruses can lead to serious health problems that can last for years.
A sample of raw pork products from supermarkets around the United States found that yersinia enterocolitica, a lesser-known food-borne pathogen, was present in 69 percent of the products tested, according to a study released in November 2012 by Consumer Reports.
The bacteria infects more than 100,000 Americans a year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but for every case that is confirmed with a laboratory test, about 120 more cases escape diagnosis. Symptoms can include fever, cramps and bloody diarrhea.
Some of the bacteria found in 198 samples proved to be resistant to antibiotics commonly used to treat people. The frequent use of low-dose antibiotics in pork farming may be accelerating the growth of drug-resistant “superbugs” that threaten human health.
Focus on eating healthier sources of protein like wild-caught fish, grass-fed beef, or free-range chicken and eggs. Bison, lamb, and turkey are also at the opposite end of the health scale from pork.
If you can’t live without bacon, try a healthier alternative like turkey bacon.
What you choose to eat is of course up to you. For me, I choose to avoid pork for these reasons and many others I haven’t discussed here. (Check out Leviticus 11.) Do your own research, then make your own educated decision about what you choose to feed yourself and your loved ones.
About the Author:
Dr. Josh Axe is an author, a radio host, and a physician. Since starting his online health movement in 2008, Dr. Axe has helped thousands of people transform their health and life through his strategies in advanced nutrition, burst training, weight loss, superfoods, healthy recipes and anti-aging.
He released The Real Food Diet Cookbook in 2010 and his radio show is heard by tens of thousands of people each week on the air and online. He’s also a highly sought after speaker and conference leader in communities, churches and businesses.
He’s a go-to physician for professional and Olympic athletes. He traveled to London as a member of the Wellness Advisory Council for USA Wrestling and Weight Lifting team.