Wives tales abound and one of them is the old tale of red meat building up in your intestines…here is Ken Jennings to Debunk that rumor with the facts. Let’s all be healthy and eat reasonable portions of all the foods we eat, and to eat in moderation, but let’s make sure we know all the facts before we start spreading rumors that don’t hold water. Check it out it is a fun look at the eating culture we are all exposed to.
Ah, July, season of the backyard barbecue. If you’re a vegetarian, we’ll throw some kind of veggie burger on the grill and quietly pity you, but for most of us in the summer, meat is where it’s at. But how much do you actually know about the flesh of the dead animals that you’re consuming? Jeopardy!‘s Ken Jennings is here all month to chew the fat with us about some particularly stubborn meat misconceptions. Are you ready to work on your protein proficiency? Let’s see what Ken’s cooked up today.
The Debunker: How Many Pounds of Undigested Red Meat Are There in My Colon?
That title sounds like the worst carnival guessing booth of all time, but it’s actually an important question. Many otherwise bright people believe the longstanding urban legend that the average human intestine is packed with a delicious meat filling—like a Hot Pocket, I guess. “Five pounds” of meat is the most commonly quoted quantity, thanks in large part to a quote in the movie Beverly Hills Cop, of all places! But this factoid is, if you’ll pardon the expression, full of crap.
The correct answer to the question above is “zero, unless you just shoved some flank steak or something up there, and if that’s what you’re into, more power to you, buddy.” Meat isn’t the food that’s hardest for the body to digest; that would be dairy products for some people, veggies full of complex sugars (beans and cabbage, for example) for others. Meat gets broken down by the stomach pretty effectively in a matter of four to six hours. There’s also the fact that the colon doesn’t really have room for five pounds of any food. Even a pound of meat impacted up in there would land you in the hospital with rectal bleeding and excruciating pain.
So where does this improbable belief come from? It seems mostly to be spread by sketchy holistic-health “authorities,” the kind of people who are skeptical of meat in general and talk a lot about the build-up of unspecified “toxins” in the body. Often these people are pushing some faddish fix for your meat-filled butt: colonic irrigation or something similar. But many versions of the story revolve around dead celebrities with supposedly catastrophic colons, like John Wayne and Elvis Presley. It may be that ridiculous stories about John Wayne and his forty pounds of impacted poop spring from the same cultural well as ones about [INSERT MALE CELEBRITY HERE] and all the coke or gerbils or whatever that his doctors supposedly found in his rectum. We just love gross stories about celebrity colons, I guess.
Quick Quiz: What beloved comic actor of the 1980s ad libbed the line about “five pounds of undigested red meat” in Beverly Hills Cop?
Ken Jennings is the author of six books, most recently his Junior Genius Guides, Because I Said So!, and Maphead. He’s also the proud owner of an underwhelming Bag o’ Crap. Follow him at ken-jennings.com or on Twitter as @KenJennings.
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