Skip to content


creating magic together, in each and every day

I have moved my blog to my new website but since I love WordPress so much, I may be back. Meanwhile, come say hi to me at my site!


My blog is going through a face lift so please check back soon for fabulous things!

IN joy,


I received an excellent question from a TWK Facebook reader asking, “What about bacon?” in response to an article I posted about Preventing Cancer with Nutrition: My reply got too lengthy, so I decided to start a discussion topic on the matter.

Hello Adam, this is Stephanie Austin, the Holistic Health Practitioner at The Wellness Kitchen. I teach the Food as Medicine classes at the Kitchen and I’d love to answer your question.

Bacon is a tricky food in that it delights the taste buds of any meat eater so much that even folks who don’t eat other meats, still hold onto bacon. Is it the fat? The salt? The cured flavor? Whatever it is, it is cherished as a favorite food for many. I believe we must have compassion for our personal journey and to some, that journey begins with the baby step of adding an additional cup of water to their daily intake. Some are ready to give up dairy for nut milks and others are diving into 100% vegetarian or raw food lifestyles. So if the first step for somebody choosing a healthier option than your traditional supermarket bacon is to select ‘Nitrite Free Bacon’ then congratulations. Please take this first step and enjoy it; however, the next step comes in recognizing there are many more things in bacon than nitrites to consider when deciding if bacon is something to have in your diet.

Nitrites are added to foods as a preservative. In meat, nitrites greatly slow the development of botulism as well as flavors the meat with a ‘cured’ flavor. Sodium nitrite is most commonly used but sodium nitrate is also used for foods that are aged, such as ham. Also added to cured meats is tons of salt, sugar, and spices before it’s smoked to give it an extra kick. Even if a person eats over 10 pounds of cured meat, the damage would more likely come from the salt consumed rather than the nitrites.

It is reported that the largest consumption of nitrates comes from veggie consumption (80-90%) than from cured meats (10-15%). Veggies like spinach, beets, radish, and cabbage contain high levels of nitrates (J.Food Sci., 52:1632). Nitrates can chemically change into nitrites by microorganisms in the food and in our gut. Nitric oxide, another byproduct of the bodily conversion of nitrates, dilates blood vessels which is beneficial in cardiovascular support for blood pressure.

In nature, nitrates are readily converted to nitrites and visa versa. This is called the Nitrogen Cycle. It starts from bacteria converting nitrogen into nitrate, which permeates into plant tissues from the soil. The plants are then eaten by animals that turn the nitrates into proteins. Through evacuation from animals or microbial conversion, nitrates get turned into nitrite, which goes back into the cycle as nitrogen.

In people, daily consumption of nitrates is normal. The body converts the nitrates into nitrites at an even rate, which can be greatly accelerated in an overly acidic environment. It is after this conversion that nitrites react with the hemoglobin in the blood through oxidation. So an excessive amount of nitrites, especially in an overly acidic digestive tract, leads to decreased capacity for blood to transport oxygen to essential body organs. Further harm comes from the natural breakdown of proteins, called amines, which combine with nitrites to form a compound called nitrosamines. It is this compound that is studied as carcinogenic in animals.

Oregon State researcher and Professor of Food Science, Richard Scanlan, PhD. writes:

“Approximately 300 of these compounds {nitrosamines} have been tested, and 90% of them have been found to be carcinogenic in a wide variety of experimental animals. Most nitrosamines are mutagens and a number are transplacental carcinogens. Most are organ specific. For instance, dimethylnitrosamine causes liver cancer in experimental animals, whereas some of the tobacco specific nitrosamines cause lung cancer. Since nitrosamines are metabolized the same in human and animal tissues, it seems highly likely that humans are susceptible to the carcinogenic properties of nitrosamines.

Cured meats can contain nitrosamines because meats contain amines, and sodium nitrite, a source of nitrosating agents, is added to cured meats as a preservative. Of all the cured meats, bacon has received the most attention. It almost always contains detectable levels of nitrosamines, principally nitrosopyrrolidine and, to a lesser extent, dimethylnitrosamine. The very high cooking temperatures used to fry bacon are conducive to nitrosamine formation. “

Another study called “Effect of Frying and Other Cooking Conditions on Nitrosopyrrolidine Formation in Bacon,” by J.W. Pensabene, et al., shows further information about what happens when heating bacon:

“…when bacon was fried at 210 degrees F for 10 minutes (raw), 210 degrees F for 105 minutes (medium well), 275 degrees F for 10 minutes (very light), or 275 degrees F for 30 minutes (medium well), no conclusive evidence of nitrosopyrrolidine could be found. But when bacon was fried at 350 degrees F for 6 minutes (medium well), 400 degrees F for 4 minutes (medium well), or 400 degrees F for 10 minutes (burned), nitrosopyrrolidine formation was conclusively found at 10, 17, and 19 parts per billion. Thus, well done or burned bacon probably is potentially more hazardous than less well done bacon.”

Oregon State researcher, Professor Scanlan, PhD. Continues:

“In the late 1970s, extensive attention was focused on the issue of nitrosamines in cured meats, and the removal of sodium nitrite as a food additive was considered. However, the prospect of sodium nitrite removal presented a formidable dilemma for the regulatory agencies. Removal of sodium nitrite would prevent nitrosamine formation, but it might also increase the risk of botulism poisoning.”

An abstract published by the Journal of Food Protection in March 2011 (pp 410-416), discusses the results from a study exploring the level of growth of botulism on ‘no nitrate or nitrated added (natural and organic) ham and bacon and the results are interesting. It makes me ask; however, are the risks of damage from the preservatives less than the risk for bacterial infection and should I simply avoid something that needs such preservation anyhow?

The study is as follows:
“The popularity of “preservative-free” foods among consumers has stimulated rapid growth of processed meats manufactured without sodium nitrite. The objective of this study was to quantify the potential for Clostridium perfringens growth in commercially available processed meats manufactured without the direct addition of nitrite or nitrate. Commercial brands of naturally cured, no-nitrate-or-nitrite-added frankfurters (10 samples), hams (7 samples), and bacon (9 samples) were obtained from retail stores and challenged with a three-strain inoculation (5 log CFU/g) of C. perfringens. Reduced inhibition (P < 0.05) was observed in seven brands of frankfurters, six brands of hams, and four brands of bacon when compared with each respective sodium nitrite-added control. In naturally cured and truly uncured commercial frankfurters, growth over time was approximately 4.7 log, while conventionally cured frankfurters exhibited growth at 1.7 log. Naturally cured ham and bacon products exhibited growth at 4.8 and 3.4 log, respectively, while their conventionally cured counterparts exhibited growth at 2.6 and 2.3 log, respectively. These products also demonstrated variation in growth response. The results indicate that commercially available natural/organic naturally cured meats have more potential for growth of this pathogen than do conventionally cured products. Natural and organic processed meats may require additional protective measures in order to consistently provide the level of safety from bacterial pathogens achieved by conventionally cured meat products, and which is expected by consumers.”

Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) can reduce nitrosamine formation due to their oxidation-reducing properties, so Vitamin C has been added to cured foods since about 1970. But one thing to consider is that Vitamins, like many other nutrients, become altered and rendered much less effective in high temperatures. While this addition of Vitamin C is rendered much less helpful in something you’ve cooked, Vitamin C supplementation is proven to be useful in the naturally occurring accumulation of nitrosamines that result from digestive juices and saliva.

Ultimately, I suggest everyone eat a minimum of 60-80% raw and living plant based foods. The remaining ‘other %’ of foods would include whole, unprocessed foods that are gently and lovingly prepared. Local, organic, farm raised, free range, hormone free, and antibiotic free are labels I recommend people choose when selecting foods. Perhaps an even greater step to take after ‘Nitrite free’ bacon is healthier meats like Turkey bacon, and eventually removing cured foods from the diet for optimal health. Again, I’d also like to ask whether or not a person feels the risks of damage from the preservatives are less than the risk for bacterial infection, and should we simply avoid something that needs such preservation anyhow?

I teach a class on July 7th called Raw Foods 101: The Basics to Raw Food Nutrition as well as a Food as Medicine class on July 16th called Vegetarian Nutrition for Beginners if you’re interested. More details are on our calendar page at

In joy,
Stephanie Austin, HHP

It’s my 9th day into a lengthy fasting period and I’m being inspired to journal again. This will act as a ‘catch all’ for the year as I have done little to no fasting since my yearly January cleanse. I went off to live in Arizona for a summer working at The Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center and Vivapura. What an amazing period of growth, spiritual awakening, and karmic burning. Such a short period of time to learn so many things but I am forever grateful. I miss the place and especially the people in ways I didn’t realize I would. With all that has transpired, I am back on the Central Coast of California and back to my regimen of fasting.

My Dermatomyositis flared up a bit this fall so I opted to do a rather length period of cleansing starting with juice and mixing in a bit of ‘only water’ fasting in between. Since I’m writing this in summary ‘after’ the fasting period, I will wrap it up to say, the cleanse went for 12 days – 9 of juice with the remaining of water. I ended up getting affected by some non-distilled water and had to end it. So now… I will continue my cleanse at the start of the year.

Overall, the first 3 days were all that I had of detox crisis followed by easy juice fasting. The water fast was my first experience with only water and it was also a joy. You will lose as much weight in 10 days of water fasting as you do in 30 days of juice fasting but perhaps the greatest party to water fasting is the repair it can do at a cellular level. You can fight cancer, reverse genetic disorders, and reverse disease on a water fast.

I have a few people joining me on the annual New Year fast so keep watch on the website forum: for their journeys.


After every fast, without fail, I regain a love for the tomato. I can’t believe how yummy these things are! When eating the not so healthy foods of this grocery store world, your pallate will change and foods will taste differently. With the clear and clean pallate of a faster, everything tastes AMAZING.

Tomato cucumber salad with snap peas – a bit of olive oil, lemon juice, and raspberries blended together as dressing…MMMmmmm…..

This fast was for 10 days of beautiful cleansing. Intuition, which should be followed in all instances, told me I was done. So I have eaten a few small pieces of watermelon, and 2 tangerines in addition to about 1 qrt coconut water and not yet enough water…must drink more with the rest of the day.

Excellent cleanse – very uneventful. Now I move onto 1 day per week fasts of distilled water and quarterly fasts of 3-5 days each to maintain my empowerment, release toxins, and start fresh for the next season.


Been a rather busy and productive day. I’m alert, focused, and energetic. Still woke with tongue coating but have no other detox symptoms. I have a Dr. Tung’s tongue scrapper that I used twice per day to help; however, the coated tongue is a great sign of detoxification. IT is often a good indicator as to how long one should fast – whether or not the tongue is coated – body odor – and hunger. I have neutral odor, not hungry and tongue is coated – ONWARD with the fast I go!

Loved the cucumber watermelon juice today – felt refreshed from it. Watermelon juice and seeds are AMAZING cleansers for the kidneys. Cucumber is one of the best cleansers during fasting. It has a unique ability to get into the cells and purge toxins – plus its amazing for the skin.

I look forward to some warm tea when I get home from work. Onto day ten!