There are many many things you can do to help maintain your urologic health. Drinking plenty of water is key, as is eating lots of fruits and vegetables and practising good urinary hygiene. Another is to reduce the consumption of animal protein – particularly red meat. Let’s take a look at some of the ways eating red meat can affect urologic health.
Excessive consumption of red meat has been linked with a number of cancers, particularly prostate cancer. The World Health Organization has classified red meat, such as pork, beef and lamb, as a ‘probable’ cause of cancer, whereas processed meats such as bacon, lunch meat and salami is a ‘group 1’ carcinogen – meaning it does cause cancer.
This is likely caused by chemicals called heterocyclic amines that form when meat is cooked at high temperatures. Red meat is also high in saturated fat, which has also been linked with aggressive cases of prostate cancer.
High consumption of red meat has also been linked with chronic kidney disease. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that those whose diets did not include red meat had less albumin (which is a waste product that indicates kidney damage) than those who did eat red meat, concluding that red meat consumption impacts kidney function.
Another study by the Duke-NUS Medical School and Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health at the National University of Singapore also found that red meat intake (the study focused on pork) was strongly associated with an increased risk of renal disease and the loss of normal kidney function.
“Our findings suggest that patients with chronic kidney disease or the general population worried about their kidney health can still maintain protein intake but consider switching to plant-based sources,” said Dr. Woon-Puay Koh, professor in the Office of Clinical Sciences at Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School in Singapore.
Red meat is also linked to bladder disease and conditions. Research conducted by the University of Southern California found that the dietary protein and dietary iron in red meat may form carcinogens called N-nitroso compounds, which can increase the risk for bladder cancer, particularly for those who are already at risk of cancer due to vulnerability to the effects of carcinogens. The heterocyclic amines formed during cooking may also increase the risk. Meats are also acidic, which lowers the bladder pH and causes bladder irritation.
Benign prostatic hyperplasia – enlargement of the prostate – is common in men as they get older. Studies have found that a diet low in red meat (but high in protein and vegetables) may reduce the risk of symptomatic BPH. Eating red meat elevates levels of arachidonic acid in your body, which increases inflammation, irritating the prostate. And, as we mentioned, red meat is high in saturated fats, which is linked to obesity – a key risk factor for BPH.
These are just a few ways that eating red meat is linked with poor urologic health. Of course, red meat is a great source of nutrients such as protein, iron, zinc, but moderation is the key. Australian Dietary Guidelines recommends consumption of no more than 455g of red meat a week. If you are at higher risk of developing a urologic condition, consider replacing red meat entirely with a plant-based diet.
If you have any questions about your urologic health or would like to book an appointment, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
The urinary system includes the urinary tract and related organs such as the bladder, kidneys, ureter, urethra and parts of…