December 8, 2023

Pork and beef dishes are usual favorites in different cultures.
We Filipinos love lechon. In our ethnic group, we prepare and serve watwat and excellent pinuneg during our gatherings. Pinuneg is popular and is now commercially available. The Japanese produce and share with the world their excellent beef. Some of these beef literally “melt in the mouth” – a commonly used description.
Red meat is not bad for our health. It is a good source of essential amino acids, iron and zinc that our body needs for its normal daily processes. But like any other thing, it becomes harmful when eaten in excessive amounts.
High consumption of red meat was linked by clinical studies to increased risk for cancer of the large intestine or colon and rectum, breast, endometrium, lungs, and the liver.
High intake of processed red meat like bacon, corned beef, hotdogs was associated with risk of the breast, and large intestine, rectum, and the lungs. When the overall or total intake of both red meat and processed red meat is high, the risk becomes higher.
In the field of blood vessel diseases – heart, brain, kidneys – blockade of vessel walls from the fat content of red meat can lead to catas-trophic health complications.
In the field of nephrology or kidney diseases, dietary recommendations on the intake of protein in general varies, pork and beef included. If one has a risk for developing kidney disease because of strong family history or the presence of diseases that predispose to kidney disease and kidney failure, prevention is the goal, so it is prudent to avoid red meat and go for other sources of protein like poultry and fish.
Once there is already an established kidney disease, especially signified by the presence of albumin or protein in the urine, avoidance of red meat is very beneficial. Red meat has been shown to promote changes in blood flow and pressure inside the kidneys (in the small blood vessels) and avoidance of red meat alleviates these so-called hemodynamic changes. It helps delay dialysis.
As chronic kidney disease becomes mode-rate to severe, red meat becomes a source of so-called uremic toxins that remain in the blood because these cannot be removed by the sick kidneys. It is a common occurrence that when a person has chronic kidney function impairment or damage, he or she tends to also have heart or cardiovascular disease.
Red meat may lead to the production of toxins in the intestinal tract – like p-cresyl sulfate, trimethylamine-n-oxide, and indoxyl sulfate which are linked to the development or aggravation of heart disease. Studies have shown that heart diseases (like heart attack and heart failure) are the most common causes of demise or hospitalizations especially in severe kidney disease.
When kidney function deteriorates further and dialysis treatments are started, protein intake is slowly increased and occasional red meat in small amount is allowed. The purpose of progressing the diet once regular dialysis is done is to prevent malnutrition which by itself can lead to frequent infections (like pneumonia) and frequent hospitalizations.
Progressing the diet may also contribute to the mental well-being of the chronically ill patient. An occasional intake of a favorite food is helpful.
But this does not mean that the dietary intake of meat is unlimited and unmonitored, as high red meat intake becomes a source of phosphorus and uric acid.
Elevated phosphorus in the blood is associated with elevation of parathyroid hormone levels and these conditions slowly lead to bone problems in a dialysis patient.

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