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Barbecue and you

House Calls

Gerald W. Deas M.D., MPH | 5/22/2014, 11:23 a.m.
Well, here it is, another day of celebration and a day of seeing how much one can eat and drink. ...
Dr. Gerald Deas

Well, here it is, another day of celebration and a day of seeing how much one can eat and drink. Well, I can assure you that when the good times and exotic tastes are over, your stomach will be singing the barbecue blues.

“The Story of Bar-B-Q Blues”

Oh, my dear stomach

Why have I treated you this way?

When you have been so good to me,

Day after day

Now you’re making me sing

Those GI (gastrointestinal) blues

Because of the fatty foods that I choose

First off, a little anatomy lesson. That belly sagging over your waist is not your stomach. It is a space that holds the small and large gut. The stomach is placed higher up, near the chest, and separates the gut from the heart and lungs with a muscular apron known as the diaphragm.

The stomach is a muscular organ that receives undigested food and mixes it up with digestive juices, preparing it for its trip through the small and large intestines.

The lining of the stomach is made up of a layer of multifunctional cells that helps to digest foods. If something you have eaten disturbs the function of the stomach, you can bet it will react by cramping and bloating, causing you to run to take medicines to relieve the gas.

The stomach often reacts to a group of chemicals known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are toxins produced by the incomplete burning of fat and are found in pork, poultry, beef and fish. As these morsels of excessive fats in your foods react with burning coals, PAHs are produced, which can cause stomach distress.

To prevent the formation of toxic material when barbecuing, I would suggest the following:

  • Before cooking meat and fish, trim off the fat.
  • Avoid overcooking meats, but cook long enough to kill the bacteria and parasites that might be present in the meats.
  • Keep meats at least 6 inches from the heat source.
  • Flip burgers, franks and other meats, such as sausage and chicken, once per minute.
  • Keep a small bottle filled with water to prevent flare-ups of the fire.
  • I hope that the above instructions will help you to enjoy your barbecue meal without causing digestive problems.

Finally, because I am a veteran and served during the Korean War, I can only reflect on all of the soldiers who did not return to our motherland. I was a member of a team that identified our brothers and sisters who died. Please take a moment from your barbecue and ask the question, do we need another war? For peace’s sake, no!

War, war, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing!