Pork makes me sick
October 7, 2014 12:14 AM   Subscribe

Last couple of years i notice that 2-4 hours after eating pork, (with the exception of cured pork like bacon) I feel sick: achy, stomach ache, vaguely feverish. My father admits he hasn't eaten pork in years but simply says; Just don't really like it i guess. But then he recalls that his father couldn't tolerate it. Made him sick. Poking around the internet I can't really find a reasonable explanation for this. Thoughts?
posted by dougiedd to Health & Fitness (24 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Do you get the same effect from eating Jell-O? Wikipedia suggests that half or more of the material used in making gelatin comes from porcine sources.

I think you should try narrowing down beyond things other than bacon (ham? pork rinds? pork fried rice? pie crust made with lard? pulled pork bbq?) what produces this reaction. It could be a particular cooking technique, too - there are specific illnesses connected to undercooked pork. Or conversely, could what you're eating be inadequately refrigerated or just kept around too long? I got a nasty case of food poisoning once from ham past its expiration date.
posted by XMLicious at 12:43 AM on October 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm wavering between a psychosomtatic "family tradition," and that family tradition leading to an inability to cook pork properly.
posted by rhizome at 12:44 AM on October 7, 2014 [7 favorites]

A friend of mine is allergic to pork, and a scattering of other odd things (ginger, bananas, some nuts but not all nuts, not peanuts) and his main reaction is migraine with stomach ache and a little feverish. Could be you're just allergic. Are you allergic to anything else?
posted by Mizu at 12:56 AM on October 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

What's the question here? Are you looking for ways of coping with your condition? (Eat less pork?) Ways of curing your condition? (None AFAIK.) Are you looking for an explanation of the genetics that might have caused this? (AFAIK, that's not well understood yet.) Are you looking for reassurance that this is a "real" condition? (Seems plausible to me.)
posted by richb at 1:37 AM on October 7, 2014 [3 favorites]

Do you get bitten by ticks very often?
posted by kisch mokusch at 3:54 AM on October 7, 2014 [3 favorites]

I'd lean toward weird allergy, don't eat pork. But since you specifically say cured pork like bacon doesn't lead to a reaction, I would investigate improper cooking technique.
posted by catatethebird at 3:54 AM on October 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Do you have cats? If so, it could be the rare Pork-Cat Syndrome. Though apparently PCS manifests earlier than a few hours after eating.
posted by schoolgirl report at 4:03 AM on October 7, 2014 [6 favorites]

From schoolgirl report's link: "Both in the 3 patients described by Hilger et al6 and in the 8 patients reported here, fresh meat or dried and smoked pork (i.e., barbecue) were more consistent provocateurs of allergic reactions. Well-cooked meat, however, was associated with fewer reactions."

Do you eat your bacon extra-crispy?
posted by Andrhia at 5:27 AM on October 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Anecdotally, I do not eat pork deliberately, and never have. But if I eat it accidentally, which has happened a few times, I feel quite ill. My doctor suggested that I lack the intestinal flora/fauna to properly digest it.
posted by juniperesque at 6:01 AM on October 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

I had a friend who was allergic to pork. (He's no longer with us.) I never really asked him the specifics of how it manifested, and truthfully I was a bit dubious, because how could you be allergic to a specific kind of meat and not the others? But then I read a reputable article somewhere about how people can be allergic to a specific kind of protein, and it made sense to me after that. Now I wish I could remember where I read the article. Anyway, a pork allergy seems to be a real thing.
posted by molasses at 6:05 AM on October 7, 2014

This doesn't sound like an allergy, but rather an intolerance. Allergies are immune-system related and occur immediately when eating the offending food, whereas an intolerance is a digestive issue and symptoms can take a while to begin. I have an intolerance to eggs, and this is the exact way I feel a good while after I eat them. Google "pork intolerance" -- it's definitely a thing.
posted by Falwless at 6:26 AM on October 7, 2014 [6 favorites]

But then I read a reputable article somewhere about how people can be allergic to a specific kind of protein

Sugar, actually, not protein. The journal in question is the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (article 1, article 2, article 3), and to say that it has a good reputation would be an understatement. However, the origin of the story actually begins with this article in the New England Journal of Medicine, arguably the most prestigious medical journal in the world. The evidence for meat allergy, particularly mammalian mean (beef, pork), is very well established. Interestingly, the reactions are often delayed after eating, similar to the OPs symptoms (the prevailing theory is that it's some product broken down in the liver after absorption, hence the time lag). Note, also, that the severe reactions (hives, anaphylaxis) are likely at the extreme end of the spectrum. It's entirely possible for an allergy to manifest with gatrointestinal symptoms and general nausea.

However, the contribution of ticks to sensitization to this particular oligosaccharide appears to be pretty important. The original NEJM study found that their allergic patients hailed from Tennessee, Arkansas, and North Carolina, places where the Lone Star tick is ubiquitous. So if the OP lives anywhere here, I would suggest that meat allergy is quite likely. Other cases outside of the US have been reported, particularly in Europe, but again the implication is that ticks are important. If the OP lives in an area where ticks do not, then I would be thinking less meat allergy and more some other kind of food intolerance.
posted by kisch mokusch at 6:34 AM on October 7, 2014 [9 favorites]

Another datapoint for pork intolerance. My friend gets migraines that floor her for days. And it's not psychosomatic -- she's gotten sick from green chili and soups that she'd had no idea of knowing there was pork inside.

So, yeah, it's a thing.
posted by mochapickle at 6:39 AM on October 7, 2014

Allergies are immune-system related and occur immediately when eating the offending food

Actually, that's a myth. Reactions, even severe anaphylactic reactions, need not be immediate.
posted by Neekee at 6:41 AM on October 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

Being allergic to pork is a real thing. It is possible that cured pork does not cause the same reaction in you because the curing process breaks down the protein. (What you are reacting to when you are allergic to the food is its protein.)
posted by kate blank at 6:59 AM on October 7, 2014

I don't eat pork any more but it's due to boar taint, a hormonal condition that many male pigs have. It causes the pork to smell horrible and taste rotten to me. I haven't noticed feeling ill but haven't eaten fresh pork products in years. It hasn't always been that way for me either, just started approx. 5 yrs ago. Cured pork like bacon isn't too bad but I can usually still smell/taste it so I avoid.

It is annoying because it's it's not all pork that smells & tastes spoiled, but most does and it's inedible for me. DH doesn't notice it at all. I found it easier just to give up pork esp fresh pork, it's too expensive to cook it & not eat it.
posted by RichardHenryYarbo at 8:33 AM on October 7, 2014

I deliberately don't eat pork, like some others above. And it's because it always made me feel...not quick nauseated, but just "ick". I just assumed what Juniperesque said, that I don't have the proper "gut stuff" to handle it.
posted by aclevername at 8:38 AM on October 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

I thought it was well known that pork was less well-tolerated than other meats by many people. This is definitely true for dogs as well and is why you don't see pork-based commercial dog food and the general advice to raw feeders is "try it but don't be surprised if it disagrees with them."
posted by HotToddy at 8:56 AM on October 7, 2014

My friend gets migraines that floor her for days

I have a friend who gets migraines from pork. She also used to get them for days... until she realized that the migraines after the first day were being triggered by the gelatin coating on the pills she was taking to treat the first migraine.

So a warning to everyone who's pork-sensitive: watch out for gelatin coated pills.
posted by aubilenon at 10:27 AM on October 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

Your profile doesn't say what country you are in, but if in the US, could it be a sensitivity to ractopamine?
posted by tomierna at 1:08 PM on October 7, 2014

Lyme disease can make people intolerant to various kinds of meat.
posted by Jacqueline at 5:06 PM on October 7, 2014

Anecdote, but since I started eating less pork (my husband doesn't eat it) I noticed that I would get bad stomach troubles after eating pork chops, sausage, etc. Interestingly enough, a couple of slices of bacon or breakfast sausage are not a problem. Seems we're in the same boat.

I also know I cannot have creamy Caesar salad + fatty steak + crème brulee in one meal without experiencing the same symptoms.

After that incident and describing the whole thing, my doctor suspected gallbladder trouble, but nothing showed up on ultrasounds. You might want to expand your diet examination to include eggs, onions and nuts. (Various websites also suggest coffee, poultry, dairy, gluten... but those are the ones my doctor mentioned)
posted by cathoo at 6:47 PM on October 7, 2014

Another data point: Mr Pod and I both experience digestive discomfort if we eat quickly (but completely) cooked pork, like pork chops. Slow cooked or cured pork is fine though.
posted by escapepod at 1:23 AM on October 8, 2014

It is interesting to see how many people have the same experience or know others that do. A food intolerance makes sense to me but frankly the medical evidence on this for pork specifically seems to be rather lacking from some quick meddling searches.
posted by dougiedd at 5:42 PM on October 8, 2014

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