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Irina June blog BBQ

By Dr. Irina Schurov, LiveRight

BBQ season has started and, for the next 3 months. we are going to be enjoying this glorious method of outdoor cooking in the company of our friends and family. Sounds wonderful!

However, I would like to remind you that BBQ food, while delicious, has its own “dark” side. Luckily, by being conscious of it, we are able to minimise any harmful impacts and really enjoy the otherwise very healthy BBQ!

So, what exactly do we need to know?

Research clearly shows that cooking meat over a flame at high temperatures can cause certain carcinogens to form. For example, AGEs (advanced glycation end-products), PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) and HCA (heterocyclic amine) are all products that can cause oxidative stress, inflammation, damage to DNA and can, therefore, potentially lead to cancer. You may think this very insignificant and irrelevant to you. However, one specialised study has demonstrated that people who consume grilled, barbecued and fried meat regularly have 60% more chance to develop pancreatic cancer. The harmful chemicals produced when fat drips onto the hot coals, cause chemical reactions and toxic smoke which then contaminate the food and, through inhalation, affect our lungs.

Furthermore, ready-made marinades for BBQs very often contain lots of artificial additives and preservatives that add to the toxic overload in all of our bodies,  especially effecting children. Those marinades also often contain sugar, honey or corn syrup, which makes burning more likely, increasing our exposure to harmful substances.

Additionally, the use of aluminium foil or disposable aluminium dishes for BBQs comes with a big risk of contamination by this harmful heavy metal, which is linked to the development of neurological conditions, including dementia.

However, to ensure your food remains beneficial and tasty, here are some tips for a healthier BBQ:

  • Use lean meat, do not cook at a very high temperature and do not make your food very charred and black! The temperature at which HCAs begin to form is around 1600C.
  • Grill more seafood and vegetables as they do not form harmful substances.
  • Cut away any burnt parts of food and compliment your BBQ with lots of fresh vegetables and salads that are full of natural antioxidants.
  • Make your own marinade, as many spices are full of antioxidants, such as rosemary. By the way, if you use beer and wine in your marinade, you will also be increasing the level of antioxidants in your food. One study showed that soaking meat in red wine for 6 hrs could reduce the number of carcinogens by 40%! Acidic marinades with lemon or vinegar also help to reduce the amount of AGEs in food.
  • Choose only good quality, non-processed meat and cook it for the shortest time possible.
  • While cooking, turn your meat from side to side often enough to minimise the amount of HCAs formed.

As you see, a lot of things can be done to make your scrumptious outdoor family time more enjoyable, healthy and beneficial for all! Here's a recipe for BBQ marinade to get you started:

Irina June blog marinade

BBQ marinade

  • 150 ml Apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp Ginger powder
  • 1 tsp Rosemary dry or fresh
  • Pinch of Celtic or sea salt
  • Pinch of Black pepper
  • 1/3 tsp Turmeric
  • 1 tsp Mustard (optional)
  • 2 tbsp Sesame oil or olive oil
  • 1 Fresh medium sized onion, chopped
  • 2 – 3 Fresh garlic cloves, crushed

Mix together all the marinade ingredients in a bowl, you could also do this step in a blender. Apply the marinade to the meat and let it sit at room temperature. The final taste will be even better if you put some additional pressure over the meat to keep it covered by the marinade, for example, cover it with a small plate and put something heavy on top (a jar with water). In 2-3 hrs your meat will be ready to be grilled! Enjoy!!!

Author's Bio

irina schurov

Dr. Irina Schurov is a Nutritional Neuroscientist with a PhD from Cambridge University (UK) and over 20 years’ experience in science and health-providing services. She created and founded LiveRight, an initiative to help others through nutrition and wellbeing strategies. By building an educational platform around healthy eating habits, by restoring the relationships between people and food, by supporting your individual circumstances and through personalized coaching in nutrition, she wants to help you and your family achieve the optimal balance between help and life.

Irina focuses especially on children with ASD and related neurological conditions by addressing the connection between gut and brain by detoxifying, nourishing and resetting a whole body biochemical balance. She provides personalized nutritional support to families and an individual DNA nourishing programme for each child in order to maximise their potential in life.