Forty years ago, I read a study about nitrites and carbonated drinks (like soda) causing cancer. Due to the formation of nitrosamine compounds, a large amount of which are considered to be carcinogenic, cancer risk is the most serious adverse effect of nitrate and nitrate intake.
Basically, think of eating a hotdog and soda.
So what are Nitrites?
Anyone who has seen fresh meat will tell you that it is not supposed to be nice and pink or red, the way we see it in a grocery store.
And the manufacturers of hot dogs do the exact same thing.
They throw a chemical (sodium nitrite) into the meat to make it look nice and red when it really wouldn't be, because they know you would never buy brown or gray meat.
Plus, they have to get it to the grocery store, and these chemicals preserve the meat long enough to get it to you. Afterall, it does not come from the local farm. It comes from a slaughterhouse somewhere in the middle of the boonies where no one can smell it.
So why am I telling you all this?
Because 40 years ago we knew that mixing nitrites with soda causes cancer.
And today a recent study came out showing that the exposure of just sodium nitrites with or without soda gives you a 54% increased greater risk for type 2 diabetes. (PLOS Medicine)
Nitrites are found in over 15,000 prepackaged foods. (Pssst...this is why I keep telling you to stay away from the center aisles of the grocery store!)
They and their sister, nitrates, are not only food additives but they can be used as preservatives to improve shelf life, also providing a pink coloration to ham and several processed meats.
Your food and Nitrites
Fruit and vegetables, and leafy greens in particular, are an important source of nitrites.
The most common nitrite sources are green leafy vegetables and beetroots, as they're naturally occurring in water and soil.
Organic dietary nitrite, found abundantly in green leafy and some root vegetables, elicits several effects, including a reduction in blood pressure and improvements in blood flow through nitrate-nitrite-nitric oxide signaling (huh? ). Recent animal and human studies have shown that dietary nitrate and nitrite also help with inflammation and immune cell function so you have a boost in immunity and less inflammation.
We all know the chronic low-grade inflammation and immune dysfunction play a critical role in heart disease. So let’s eat those fruits and vegetables!
Who says food isn’t a drug?
Now let’s talk about Nitrates (not an I, but an A)
It is important to note that nitrates, have not found to increase the risk of developing cancer or in increasing the risk of developing diabetes.
Nitrates can make it so that less oxygen is available for the body to function properly. This is a good thing if we are climbing into high altitudes like Machu Picchu.
What about digestion?
Nitrates and nitrites circulate from the digestive system into the blood, then into saliva, and back into the digestive system. They may be useful in keeping your body healthy, as they seem to function as antimicrobials in the digestive system. They can help kill bad bacteria, such as Salmonella.
Consuming way too much nitrate can affect how blood carries oxygen and can cause methemoglobinemia (also known as blue baby syndrome) Huh? .
Just sticking to a diet of fruit and vegetables, and leafy greens in particular, are an important source of nitrites, and there is NO evidence of green leafy vegetables increasing type 2 diabetes risk.
Just watch your red, processed meat consumption.
And maybe there are some othere things yu wish you knew about diabetes.
Perhaps you are wondering why you can't seem to lose weight?