The Protein Myth
The Martial Art of Wellness
Volume 8 – January 2009
Welcome to this month’s BioNews. We must learn to free ourselves from the control that others exert over us. As we learn we become FREE, we become powerful. This pursuit of self defense in wellness, I call “The Martial Art of Wellness.” And as we practice we become Wellness Ninjas.
QUOTE OF THE MONTH
“ We are the world’s wealthiest country-yet one the unhealthiest. We are flabby, overweight, and have a lot of dental caries, fluoridation notwithstanding. Our gastrointestinal system operates like a spluttering gas engine. We cannot sleep; we cannot get going when we are awake. We have neuroses; we have high blood pressure. Neither our hearts nor our heads last as long as they should. Coronary disease at the peak of life has hit epidemic proportions. Suicide is one of the leading causes of death (fourth between the ages of fifteen and forty four). We suffer from a plethora of the diseases of civilization. ”
~ Herbert Ratner, M.D.
THIS ISSUE’S TESTIMONIALS:
Congenital respiratory illnesses – no longer trigger asthmatic reactions
“ I have struggled with congenital respiratory illnesses my entire life. By 18 months of age I coped with severe allergies, asthma, chronic bronchitis, bouts of severe tonsillitis and double bronchial pneumonia … The F2+F3 BSF Combo are the single most effective nutritional supplement I’ve ever used…and I’ve tried dozens… I’ve been off all medications for over 2 years. Even the worst summer pollutants no longer trigger asthmatic reactions. Thanks so much for the products you offer! ”
~ ANM, Survey Responder, USA, December 2008
REALITY CHECK ( Demythifying Proteins )
In 2009, in an attempt to bring knowledge and increase your reliance in two basic health principles; “first do no harm” and “food as medicine”, I’ve comitted to write a monthly article called “REALITY CHECK”, that will be mostly a “reverse information” approach; that of demythifying twelve myths that opposes these principles. I intend to demythify current and “hot” myth like that of Vitamin D supplementation, and those that never seem to die like this month’s pick; the protein myth.
I began to learn about those two principles of health the summer of 1964 when at the age of fourteen I was a guest for seven days at the Sivanandha Yoga Center in the mountains north of Montreal. The diet was vegetarian and several of the guests present were looking for healing with Yoga and/or diet, a new concept that offered my maleable mind an alternative to modern medicine, which back then, we all held in highest regards. “Already in 1963, E. Stanley Crawford and Domingo Liotta had implanted the first heart valve in a patient who had a cardiac arrest after surgery.” We were all impressed with the potential of modern medicine. By the way, I still am specially when it comes to miracles achieved everyday with surgery, revival techniques and much more.
From that summer on, I remained for a long time divided between natural and modern medicine. I stayed interested in research findings from both modern and natural medicines. But all the while I mostly doubted natural medicine and when it came to my health, I had more faith in modern medicine.
But since, over the decades of acquiring knowledge and personal experiences, I have gradually switched my faith to natural medicine. It came about from observing diets from around the world, from personal and anecdotal exposure to other form of healing such as Yoga, Chi Keung (Qi Gong), vegetarian and other diets, and eventually from formal studies in natural medicine, and a decade of research and receiving mentoring from those that had knowledge before me.
Demythifyng the Myth of Protein
1. A purely fictitious narrative usually involving supernatural persons, actions, or events, and embodying some popular idea concerning natural or historical phenomena.
2. A fictitious or imaginary person or object.
To deprive of mythical character; to remove the aura of reverence, sentimentality, etc.
I was vegetarian for twelve straight years and when I told people, often the first question out of their mouths was, ‘Oh, where do you get your protein?’ Then I would proceed to lecture them; that proper combination of certain foods with some dairy product would make up the entire amino acids required for human need of protein; reminding them that hundreds of millions of people in India and China were vegetarian, lived long life and had no cancers; telling them how healthy I was; and closing with “we do not have the physiology of carnivores with their set of teeth to tear meats, short digestive tracks, and powerful digestive juices; that rather we have the physiology of the ape, teeth to chew, pre-digestive enzymes at the mouth, partial digestion at the stomach and a long digestive process in our 30 feet long intestines.” I thought my arguments were convincing, but really I think it just bore them to sleep.
Today when I reflect back, I realize that I was not 100% convinced myself. I was puzzled and frustrated with this idea of having to combine certain foods to get all the essential amino acids. I was confused by my attraction to certain foods; meats or vegetables and dislike of others. I have since made peace with my attractions; I eat mostly plants, and exceptionally some meats when I feel like it.
Beginning today I hope to help you gain knowledge and the resulting freedom to make the right choice of diet for your better health. Here are the few points on protein that I want you to be clearer on after reading this article:
- you don’t need to eat meat, fish or dairy produces to get proteins and be healthy
- proteins from meat and dairy is directly connected with many diseases and cancers
- plants contain plenty of proteins and plants do not lead to disease and cancers
- consuming BioSuperfood makes protein assimilation from any source more efficient
The Protein Myth
The protein myth is so widely accepted as fact that even vegetarians believe it! The lingering questions go like this:
- Is plant protein complete and/or as good as animal protein?
- Is it necessary to combine certain plant foods in a meal to get complete proteins?
- are good sources of protein?
- How much protein should one consume?
- Is it advisable to take protein powder or amino acid supplements, specially for people who do vigorous exercise or play sports?
- Are some protein of higher quality, what does this mean?
- Does a vegetarian diet have enough protein, and is it healthy?
- Should one take protein supplement to build muscle?
- Is protein from meat, fish, poultry, milk and eggs superior to protein from plants?
- Is meat the best protein source with other foods having little or no protein?
Well this was back then for me, but today the idea that plant foods are somehow devoid of protein is nothing but a myth. Read on.
So how do we get enough protein?
How important a question this is for many potential vegetarians or people wanting or needing to reduce their meat and dairy intake. Our culture is obsessed with obtaining enough protein. And yet protein is one of the easiest nutrients to get. As a matter of fact it is very easy to eat too much proteins. It is a fact that by an inappropriate choice of foods, a person might be deficient in vitamins A or C; but it is almost impossible to be protein-deficient on a calorically adequate diet. To see why this is so, we need to look at protein requirements as a percentage of calories.
Protein as a Percentage of Calories
Protein, fat, and carbohydrate–the three major components of common foods–all contain calories, in about this ratio:
- 1 gram of protein = 4 calories
- 1 gram of carbohydrate = 4 calories
- 1 gram of fat = 9 calories
Thus, if a potato weighing 100 grams contains 76 calories and 2.1 grams of protein, we say that it contains 2.1 x 4 = 8.4 calories as protein, or about 11% calories as protein.
According to the National Research Council, an adult male requires 2700 calories and 56 grams of protein. The 56 grams of protein represent 224 calories, or about 8.3% of calories as protein. For the adult female, the figure is about the same: 2000 calories and 44 grams of protein, or about 8.8% of calories as protein.
If wheat has 17% of calories as protein, potatoes 11%, broccoli 45%, corn 15%, and so on, then all of these foods provide enough protein on a calorically adequate diet, even if you eat nothing but potatoes, wheat, and broccoli. In fact, of the common plant foods, almost all provide more than 10% of calories as protein. Only the fruits, as a rule, contain less; but this is not going to be a problem unless one is trying to live on an all-fruit diet.
Protein content of some common plant foods (100 gram dry portion) — as a percentage of total calories
|Food||Calories||% of Calories as Protein|
|Adult RDA||2000-2700||8 – 9|
Another disproved myth is the idea that most plant foods only contained some of the essential amino acids, so you’d have to combine “incomplete” foods like beans and rice to form meals that contained complete proteins. This idea was put forth in the 1971 book Diet for a Small Planet by Frances Moore Lappé. It was a million-copy bestseller. Unfortunately, many people still aren’t aware that this theory was later found to be false, as Lappé herself recanted her original theory in later works that were far less popular.
The basic idea was this: while meat contains all of the amino acids, plant foods were deficient in one or more of the eight “essential” amino acids. Therefore, balance plant foods weak in one amino acid but strong in a second amino acid, with other plant foods strong in the first but weak in the second. Simple, right? Well, simple to some people, but not so simple to others, who eventually gave up the effort and went back to a meat-based diet out of fear of missing one or another of the amino acids.
And yet the central thesis of this best-selling book, one which even today many vegetarians believe in, is false. There’s no question that you need all of the amino acids. But virtually all plant foods have all of the essential amino acids; and not only are the amino acids there, they are present in more than enough quantity to meet the needs of normal adults, if you are on a calorically adequate diet.
It’s true that plant foods have more of the requirements of some amino acids than of others. Rice is strong in tryptophan, methionine, and valine, and weak in isoleucine and lysine. But rice protein sufficient to provide 100% of our quantitative protein needs, also provides 265% of the adult male requirement for lysine and 266% of that for isoleucine. (It provides 400% or more of all of the others.) The same is true for virtually all other plant foods. In fact, some plant foods which do not quite provide the requirement for total protein, such as sweet potatoes, do provide the minimum requirement for all of the essential amino acids.
But furthermore, we now know that through complex metabolic systems, the human body will derive the essential amino acids needed from a variety of natural plant proteins that we can easily eat every day. We also know that our body will store amino acids in a pool between meals – it doesn’t even need to get all the essentials in a single meal. So the theory of combining plant foods to form complete proteins isn’t even remotely correct. Of course, lifelong vegans already knew Lappé’s theory was wrong, as they weren’t suffering from protein deficiencies regardless of how they combined their meals.
Unfortunately many people today are still under the mistaken assumption that getting enough protein from plants is difficult or impossible. If you wanted to suffer from protein deficiency, you’d either have to seriously restrict total calories (i.e. starve yourself), or you’d have to eat a really messed up, unbalanced diet like nothing but low-protein junk foods and certain fruits. But in those cases, protein deficiency probably wont be your biggest risk.
Personally I’ve never met anyone suffering from protein deficiency in the USA, vegan or otherwise. I have traveled to India and China and many other countries where hundreds of millions of people have never consumed an ounce of meat and live long, strong and happy lives. And generally those people are slim and have none or less disease and no cancer.
The much greater health risk is over consumption of protein
The average American diet contains much meat and dairy products. As a result, it is often too high in protein. This can lead to a number of serious health problems. Although fat is the dietary substance most often singled out for increasing cancer risk, protein also plays a role. Populations who eat meat regularly are at increased risk for colon cancer, and researchers believe that the fat, protein, natural carcinogens, and absence of fiber in meat all play roles. The 1997 report of the World Cancer Research Fund and American Institute for Cancer Research, Food, Nutrition, and the Prevention of Cancer, noted that meaty, high-protein diets were linked with some types of cancer.
America is home to the most obese people in the world. According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), approximately 72% of adults in the U.S. are at least overweight; 32% overweight, 34% obese, and 6% extremely obese.
In his book The China Study, T. Colin Campbell demonstrate without a doubt that “People who ate the most animal-based foods got the most chronic disease… People who ate the most plant-based foods were the healthiest and tended to avoid chronic disease. These results could not be ignored.” Dr. Campbell details the connection between nutrition and heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, and also its ability to reduce or reverse the risk or effects of these deadly illnesses.
BioSuperfood and Proteins
BioSuperfood contains approximately 50% protein with all required amino acids with a 95% NPU (Net Protein Utilization). But BioSuperfood is much more valuable then its protein content; when you consume BioSuperfood daily, you immediately benefit from better assimilation of all the nutrients in your foods. We say that BioSuperfood “fires” your ordinary foods. In large studies with thousands of dairy cows and millions of chickens it was proven that when the animals were fed the algae, they needed less of their daily protein feed, and produced more eggs and milk of higher nutritive value.
To consume a diet that contains enough, but not too much protein, simply replace most of your animal products with greens, vegetables, legumes (peas, beans, and lentils), and fruits. As long as one is eating a variety of plant foods in sufficient quantity to maintain one’s weight, the body gets plenty of protein. Hopefully with this information you can relax with full confidence that you will get your proteins daily and much better health.