Protein is a nutrient essential to human life. It is part of what forms the building blocks of basically all the tissues that make up our body. It is found in our hair, muscles, bone, organs, skin and every other tissue in between. Protein also helps to repair and maintain the body’s tissues and structures.
Proteins are made up of amino acids and we humans need twenty two different types of amino acids in order for our bodies to function properly. Our bodies produce all these amino acids with the exception of nine, and those ones are called essential amino acids; they are very important for our bodies.
In order to get those amino acids, we have to source it through food that contains protein. We have two types of protein containing foods; complete protein and incomplete protein.
A complete protein contains all the nine essential amino acids, and is found in animal products such as red meat, fish, eggs, milk and chicken. Plant protein sources such as grains, legumes and nuts are almost always incomplete with a few exceptions. As a result, conventional knowledge recommends we get most of our protein from animal sources. We feed our children milk and eggs from infancy and we strive hard and spend more money to make sure there is at least one type of animal served on our plates every day. Everywhere we go; there is the push to eat more protein, but is that much protein really healthy for us?
Whenever we consume protein whether plant based or animal based, we consume the entirety of the food. This includes the vitamins, minerals, the carbohydrates, the fibre, the fats and whatever else is contained in that food. The fact that a food is high in protein doesn’t necessarily make it very nutritious. If anything, it might have more disadvantages than advantages. This is especially true for animal protein.
Animal protein is very high in iron and B-12, but also very high in cholesterol and saturated fats which is associated with an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
Another major issue is related to how animal protein is raised and processed. As we consume milk, eggs and farmed raised animals, we consume the hormones, medications, antibiotics, and other chemicals used to rear the animal. These added toxins to our bodies in addition to the high saturated fat content increase the risk of cancers, auto immune disease, diabetes and heart disease.
Plant protein on the other hand, has negligible saturated fat or cholesterol. It is high in fibre that is absent in animal protein, contains antioxidants, minerals and phytonutrients which actually help to protect the heart from cardiovascular disease, help in achieving a healthy weight, improves digestion and significantly lowers the risk of cancer.
Good sources of plant protein include nuts, seeds, legumes and whole grains. And the wonderful part is this; plant protein can become a complete protein just by mixing two plant sources together, e.g. rice and beans, beans and corn, fonio and peas, oats and nuts, peanut butter and wholegrain bread.
In conclusion, let use this piece of information to educate ourselves. Animal protein is not totally bad for our health; fish and poultry are way healthier than any form of red meat and some types of fish contain omega 3s which are good for the heart. But so do several plant sources which don’t also contain the cholesterol and fat that fish has. If we must eat animal protein, let us limit it to a bare minimum and start to increase our plant protein intake. Heart disease and stroke was rare in the olden days mostly due to the fact that they ate meat, chicken, fish, eggs and milk only once in a while. At the end of the day, we have only sickness to lose and a long, healthy life to gain. Here is to health!
Tobi Ayodele Keeney
Managing Director Quincy Herbals
Email address: [email protected]