You probably already know that meat-heavy diets can be dangerous for your heart, awful for the environment, and cruel to animals. Yet, many of us have trouble cutting back. Now, scientists have found another reason you should skip the spare ribs, and you’re going to want to pay attention to this one, considering all that meat your family is eating could be putting your kids’ health in danger.
Researchers have found a connection between diets high in meat and symptoms of childhood asthma. The study, published in the esteemed medical journal BMJ, used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to look at the health and diet of 4,388 children from 2003 to 2006. The researchers found that eating high quantities of non-seafood meats was associated with breathing issues in children. Specifically, those with high meat consumption were more likely to experience wheeze-disrupted sleep and wheezing requiring prescription medication. (Related: The One Vitamin Doctors Are Urging Everyone to Take Right Now.)
“Our study builds upon prior work that suggests diet may play a role in airway health and asthma-related symptoms,” explains Sonali Bose, MD, the study’s senior author and Assistant Professor of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine and Pediatrics at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “The results suggest a link between a component commonly found in cooked [meats] to wheezing in children.”
The component in question is dietary advanced glycation end products (AGEs). Dietary AGEs, the U.S. National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) explains, are dangerous toxins that come from cooking food at high temperatures. Bose suggests that the link between dietary AGEs and difficulty breathing in childhood “may help to explain the mechanism by which meats may adversely influence airway health.”
“Interestingly, Bose notes, “our findings were independent of the overall healthiness of the diet.” No matter how nutritious the child’s diet may have been, the presence of dietary AGEs put them at risk. To reduce the dietary AGEs in your cooked meat, NCBI recommends “cooking with moist heat, using shorter cooking times, cooking at lower temperatures, and [using] acidic ingredients such as lemon juice or vinegar.”
Asthma is more dangerous now than ever, leaving us vulnerable to more severe cases of COVID-19. For more on how to keep your family’s breathing healthy, check out these 10 Lung Mistakes You’re Making During the Coronavirus Pandemic.