By Matt Stone
In 2006, my natural contrarian tendencies getting the best of me, I decided that fat, not carbohydrates or protein, was the bestest thing ever. So I embarked on a diet with roughly 70% of my calories coming from fat. In all the world’s anti-fat hysteria, they must have missed what is truly the optimal human diet. Or so I led myself to believe as I watched my abs pop out, my moods stabilize, my cravings for all of those “poisonous” modern foods disappear, and so on. Pork was a huge centerpiece of my menu, especially in Hawaii where tasty pork bellies abound and you can go to a supermarket and pick up weird piggy stuff like the pig’s head shown left (that’s me holding it).
But by spring of 2008 I started noticing something a little bothersome. It started when I would lay out at the beach, soaking up Hawaiian sun. I would go to sit up, flip over, or perform some other rigorous task endemic to Hawaiian life, and a pain in the center of my chest would hit me like a brick wall, forcing me to roll over onto my side and sit up other ways. The trials! The tribulations!
Over the next few years, the pain in my chest would come and go. It would get worse, and then better. I would start getting excited that it had gone, then it would hit me harder than ever. I never really could make any connections to what caused it. It seemed to surface during my low-carb era, so I distanced myself from that diet as much as possible – thinking it would go away. But even eating very little fat or going on brief, fruity vegan stints, the pain in the chest wouldn’t go away.
Finally, in 2011 I decided, despite my better judgment, to do a weird dietary experiment known as RBTI. Pork is restricted on the diet, and although I had serious doubts that pork was inherently harmful somehow, it didn’t take but a few weeks before I noticed the chest pains had improved. After a few months I realized that they had really, seriously, gone – as in totally eradicated. There were many facets to this peculiar dietary regime, and I still didn’t know what, specifically, had led to the chest pains going away. But I soon found out.
I ate some sausage on a pizza after roughly 8 months of completely avoiding pork – not just the meat but also avoiding pork gelatin, pork fat, and for a while even avoiding touching pork or eating from cookware that had cooked pork before. And, sure as shit as they say, the chest pains came back and lasted for several days.
Since that time I have had two distinct instances where the chest pains came back very slightly – just enough to be noticeable for a few days each round. Nothing very severe but an unmistakable feeling. Once was after eating some roasted marshmallows around a campfire, and another time I was stumped. I definitely hadn’t eaten any pork. I hadn’t eaten marshmallows or pork gelatin or anything. But after it came and went after a predictable time period of a few days I realized that it was from handling pork bacon on two consecutive days – cooking it over a campfire and serving it to two lovely ladies. Kosher beef weenies for this dogg.
I also must say that, for the first time as far as I know, I developed a very strong aversion to pork. Something about ham, bacon, sausage, pork chops, and all that stuff I used to eat like a boss seems completely and totally revolting. I have deleted a lot of stuff out of my diet at various points in my experimental eating career, but it never made a food revolting. It usually made it more attractive. But pork? Yuck. It’s been a strange adventure.
Anyway, that’s why I, personally, avoid pork. Plus I got to see several hundred sets of urine chemistry in the last year or so, and pork shows up in an eerily predictable manner in many people’s urine chemistry. In the world of RBTI, pork is perhaps best known for elevating the urea levels in the urine in proportion to other test values. And high levels of urea in your urine will give you the stamp of having “chest pain,” a hard heartbeat, and/or pain in the left shoulder depending on how high they are.
There’s a lot of taboo surrounding pork. Some people just think it’s gross instinctively. Many others claim that it is toxic for dogs and cats to eat, and makes their pets sick. There are multiple religions and cultures that forbid consumption of pork to the extent that some followers have been known to turn to cannibalism before eating a fat, juicy hog. Pork seems to be one of the quickest foods to be shunned without an abundance of evidence as to why a person shouldn’t eat it. There’s certainly a weird and mystical aura surrounding it as a food item unlike any other food – spanning many religious beliefs, cultures, continents, and centuries. While I don’t generally hold tradition, culture, or religion in high regard, I can’t dismiss it all as moronic and devoid of credibility.
In terms of modern scientific evidence against pork consumption, the evidence that was the catalyst for my recommendation against the consumption of pork (and poultry) in favor of other meats was that pork fat has the highest concentration of arachidonic acid of any known fat. Arachidonic acid is a type of fat that is highly involved in many inflammatory processes, and reduction of dietary arachidonic acid intake has been found in some cases to immediately reduce the incidence of over-inflammatory conditions like asthma. Floyd Chilton’s book Inflammation Nation is a good read on this topic. I wrote about Floyd “Ski” Chilton and his work in a post a while back.
But if you would like some further reading on some scientific perspectives damning pork, try reading the Weston A. Price Foundation’s article showing blood changes from consuming pork, as well as Paul Jaminet’s series on pork.