Is Eating Meat Good or Bad?

There are many views concerning the ingestion and digestion of meat, especially red meat, on online forums, with varying and differing responses. From what I have learnt in the past 15 years studying nutrition, I have done some research over the past few months on this subject. It has been fascinating and often humorous. I will list a few of the opinions for your enrichment.

How long do we need to digest meat?

Meat and Livestock Australia website says: “Less than 4–6 hours to digest meat.” Meat is made up of protein and some fats, which are easily digested and generally leave the stomach within  2–3 hours. Meat is fully digested within 4–6 hours, compared to the dietary fibre found in fruits, vegetables and whole grains, which takes more than two days. The human digestive system is well designed to digest a variety of foods, including red meat, which contains essential nutrients, like Zinc, Vitamin B12 and long chain Omega-3s.

“About four days to digest meat and about a day and a half to digest vegetables, says Vistara Parham, RN (“What‘s wrong with eating meat?”).

It takes about 48 hours to digest meat. says Prerna Salla, author of ‘In Search of the Perfect Diet’.

“Meat takes about 72 hours to digest” according to

I have also heard this: “It takes years for a human to digest meat.” Response: Absolutely false. If it were true, the average person would have an extra 90 kilogrammes of red meat in their gut in just one year.

It takes 1–3 hours to digest meat, depending on how much you chew it and the other foods you take with it, says Expert

It takes a few hours to a day to digest meat, depending on the individual’s GI tract, says

It takes about three months to fully digest a burger, says a popular Health Radio programme.

The Facts

It takes 24 to 72 hours to fully digest meat, depending on the person’s digestive tract, state of health, medications taken, what is eaten with it, emotions and other factors. For example, a hamburger sandwich with all the trimmings will take about 24 to 72 hours. Why? On average, it takes that time for most people’s digestive tract to do its job. But, on the whole, 1–3 days will completely digest, or break apart, the food.

Scientists are actually able to measure this by ‘marking’ the meal with a type of dye that eventually colours the faeces (semi-solid waste matter after food has been digested and discharged from the bowels), so they can see when the residue of something actually exits the body.

Once the food is broken apart into its component parts (the macro-nutrients of protein, fat, carbohydrate, water, and micro-nutrients of vitamins and minerals), the broken-down products can then be absorbed into the body. Almost all of these actions occur by the time the materials reach the small intestine. So, the food that you eat for dinner tonight will be in the form of amino acids (protein), triglycerides and cholesterol (fats) and carbohydrates (mostly glucose), vitamins, minerals and water probably by tomorrow evening. Probably some, if not most, will also have been absorbed into your body and used in some way.

Digestibility refers to the proportion of a food that becomes available to the body as absorbed nutrients. Beef is highly digestible. In fact, 97 percent of beef is digestible, in comparison to 89 per cent of flour and 65 per cent of most vegetables.

However, many people equate digestibility with the length of time food remains in the stomach. Beef and other protein foods remain in the stomach longer than fruits and vegetables and, consequently, provide a feeling of fullness for a longer period of time.

The surface area of the small intestine (with thousands of villi and micro-villi or brush-like projections on the surface of intestines) is approximately 250 square metres. The contents of the stomach enter the small intestine at different rates – carbohydrates first, then proteins, and then fats. There are more nerve cells in the digestive system than in the peripheral nervous system.

Eating too much cooked or processed foods over time affects the pancreas and inhibits enzyme production. The lack of naturally-produced enzymes from the pancreas will affect the body’s ability to properly digest food. Cooked or processed foods form the majority of foods consumed by the average person. This includes so-called healthy diets. Eating such foods also causes an increase in WBC (white blood cell) production (protecting the body from what you have eaten) each time you eat. Over time, this reaction can impair your immune system and render it inadequate to effectively fight disease.

Incidentally, the best resource for getting good nutrition information and advice may not be the radio, TV, magazines or the internet. For nutrition questions, if possible, talk to a trained dietitian at your local hospital or health care clinic who has been trained in nutrition. A lot of folks think they are experts in nutrition, but you should look for one with either a R.D. (Registered Dietician) Certification or any advanced degrees (like M.S., M.P.H., or Ph.D.) in nutrition or a related subject from a college or university that offers professional training in nutrition, says Dian Dooley, Ph.D. in Nutrition and Anatomy.

Meat is Often Not the Real Culprit

Meat is not really the issue. It is the dietary habits of the person as a whole and the condition of the person’s health at the time that matter. Dietary history is important, as well as the quality of the meat, the amount per serving, and the frequency of eating meat. Also, it is the state of the nervous system that can help your digestive system function properly. Most people have a dietary history that impairs the digestive system to function optimally. So, if your nervous system is not functioning optimally, get a chiropractic adjustment to optimise your spinal health to reduce spinal and nervous system interference.


Your Trusted Chiropractor (Specialist in Zone Chiropractic) & Nutritionist 

Dr. Nicholas Lim, D.C., ANutr, B.Sc. (Hons)

[Dr. of Chiropractic and Nutritionist &

Secretary of Chiropractic Association of Singapore]

WhatsApp :+65 9352 8828

Telephone : +65 6970 8152

Email :

Vitamin C: Heal or Kill?


Vitamin C (ascorbic acid or L-ascorbic acid) is an important nutrient, which helps our body form blood vessels, cartilage, muscles and collagen in bones. It is also vital to our body’s healing process. As an antioxidant, it enhances the immune system and significantly decreases the risk of a wide range of diseases, such as cancers and degenerative and chronic diseases.

People who get little or no vitamin C (below 10 mg per day) for many weeks can get scurvy. Scurvy causes fatigue, inflammation of the gums, small red or purple spots on the skin, joint pain, poor wound healing, and corkscrew hairs.


Vitamin C occurs naturally in some foods, especially fruits and vegetables. Heat and cooking in water can destroy some of the Vitamin C content in these foods; so, eating these foods raw is best. Some good sources of Vitamin C include:

A male above 19 years would require about 90 mg of Vitamin C daily, while a female above 19 years require 75 mg daily.


Vitamin C is promoted so much that many food companies add it to their products. It is found in soft drinks, snacks, cereals, and added to many health supplements. Some naturally-occurring Vitamin C is also added to canned or bottled juices. In some food products, Vitamin C is used as a preservative, and marketed to be “high in Vitamin C” for health reasons. Most people think that sounds brilliant for nutrition supplementation, but it can be potentially harmful with certain foods.

The reason is actually not a complicated equation. This is because a common preservative used in foods and beverages called Sodium Benzoate (SB) can be a hazardous concoction when mixed with Vitamin C. Sodium Benzoate, also called Benzoate of Soda or E211, can be found in juices, pickles, soft drinks, sauces, mustard, salad dressings, jams and other ingestible products.

According to the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA), SB, by itself, shows no evidence of causing any health problems in people. But when you mix it with ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), a chemical reaction occurs and it creates ‘Benzene’, which is a proven carcinogen and is severely detrimental to health. The body does not produce Benzene on its own, but this common combination could result in cancer from regular ingesting of such carcinogen cocktail. It can mess up the entire system of the body.

In a study done by the FDA more than 10 years ago, it found that 54 out of 84 soft drinks tested contained Benzene. Some had levels 16 times higher than what is allowed in drinking water. And these allowances can be lenient, which means the allowable limit in your body is actually lower. So, even though the laws state that drinking water should have less than five PPB (parts per billion) of Benzene, there is no legal limit on Benzene in other drinks.

Food Science believes that SB is great due to its preservation benefits in drinks and food. It is antibacterial and anti-fungal and even helps fight different coli, such as Escherichia coli 0157:H7 (E. coli) found mostly in under-cooked food, contaminated ground beef, unpasteurised milk, contaminated water and vegetables. It is a bacterium which causes 73,000 reported food-borne illness cases and 60 deaths in the USA (1999). Therefore, it is highly promoted for use as a preservative. But, even by itself, it is not safe for human consumption.

Another study from the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) published in 2007 shows that SB (not the mixture, just Sodium Benzoate) is linked to hyperactive children and decreased intelligence in children. The study revealed an average of 5.5 points drop in IQ. Although there are other influences which may cause hyperactivity among children, this is a red flag.

Help Yourself First

Just like most of the articles I have written, we need to be aware of what we do, eat and drink, especially the dangers and hazards to our health, so that we make informed changes and choices for better health. It is important to check and read labels on soft drinks and processed foods, if you are going to consume such items. If any contains SB (Sodium Benzoate), do not buy it. If you have it, throw it out. As I have always advised, avoid processed foods altogether. There are too many dangers and no healthy reason for consuming them.

The only way to get rid of pain, numbness, tingling, discomfort is to go the natural way. There is no point visiting a doctor or chiropractor if one does not want to change your lifestyle, including what you consume. We need to understand the causes of health problems and avoid focusing on alleviating the symptoms only, if we want to get effective results and real changes to our health in the long term.


Your Trusted Chiropractor (Specialist in Zone Chiropractic) & Nutritionist 

Dr. Nicholas Lim, D.C., ANutr, B.Sc. (Hons)

[Dr. of Chiropractic and Nutritionist &

Honorary Secretary of Chiropractic Association of Singapore]

WhatsApp :+65 9352 8828

Telephone : +65 6970 8152

Email :