Are Hot Dogs healthy?

Ah hot dogs…part of the American Dream. Part of what makes this great country even greater. Are Hot Dogs healthy? Unfortunately, we know that these tasty backyard barbeque bites are not the best for us in terms of our health. Hot dogs and other processed food (foods with a lot of preservatives in them) often contain unhealthy ingredients like sodium nitrite and so many other chemicals with names that are so long that they stop sounding like food ingredients.

Now, you’re thinking, “The FDA wouldn’t allow chemicals that were harmful to humans in my food!” While it may be true that there is nothing in your food that will outright kill you in the small doses that we consume them, the chemicals that they do allow in our food have a clear effect on your body and your overall health.

I specialize in hair transplantation and was surprised to notice a direct correlation between the patient’s diets and the quality of their hair. Patients who had a diet rich in processed foods seemed to have poorer hair quality and generalized thinning while those who had a diet rich in natural foods (preservative-free foods) had much healthier hair all over their head. The chemicals put in our food are supposed to help ‘preserve freshness’ and ‘enhance color’. The very nature of this preservation is to prevent the growth of bacteria. Bacteria is a rapidly reproducing cell just like many cells in our body (hair, skin, nails, etc.). By consuming the chemicals to kill these rapidly reproducing cells, we are in fact killing our own body’s cells as well.

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Remember those nitrites? Sodium nitrite is added to meat to increase the shelf life and give it that nice meaty red color that we are used to seeing. Unfortunately, nitrites are also known to elevate risk of cancer and in large doses can cause death. Is it really worth increasing the risk of cancer just for a few extra days in the fridge and artificial color? Buying fresh unprocessed red meat, seafood, and poultry doesn’t cost much more than the processed food and in return for those few extra dollars, you are eating healthier and lowering the risk of cancer! It seems worth it.

With all of the processed foods out there, it is difficult to avoid every harmful chemical or ingredient, but there are things to you can do to reduce your body’s intake of these chemicals. Read it before you eat it! Stay aware and read the labels whenever possible, and if you can’t pronounce the ingredients, feel free to apply my simple safety rule, don’t eat it.

Action Items:
– Be a smart shopper, Buy local and/or organic, and Take control of your diet.
– Avoid processed foods (especially processed meats)

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