Probably one of the most common questions, if not the most common question in relation to the plant based diet is Where do you get your protein from? While the actual picture of the standard diet effects requires the opposite question and a reason for concern: How to avoid eating too much protein?
The word protein originates from the Greek word protos meaning of great importance or first. The origin of the word gives the impression that protein is of great importance. With the longtime belief that protein is only present in animal based food, plus meat industry marketing, we can understand where all this concern of getting enough protein comes from.
However, let’s acknowledge that the mere etymological meaning of the word protein points out that proteins are molecules that are part of every cell. In other words, all foods contain proteins. However, there is a huge difference in the protein quality and their effect on the body.
A living organism actually uses amino acids, building blocks of proteins, for growth, development and recovery of tissues. The most efficient way of getting amino acids is from fresh fruits and veggies. Fruit ripening is a process that divides proteins into amino acids, making the building substances for the living organism ready in the optimal form for usage.
Cooking on the other hand renders proteins coagulated. Heating proteins first brings about breaking down amino acids links, and after this, digestive-enzyme-resistant amino acid crossed links are created. This creation of amino acid crossed links results in coagulated proteins, meaning that the protein chain becomes tangled by the links that are resistant to our digestive enzymes. This results in the protein decay inside the intestines, which can manifest in unpleasant-odor and gas.
Now that we understand that the optimal amino acid source is fresh fruits and veggies, let’s investigate do these plant foods contain enough protein to satisfy human needs?
5-6% calories in fruit come from protein, just as much there is in the human breast milk. Let’s remind ourselves that protein is utilized for growth and development, so if for a human baby in the period of the most rapid growth, 5-6% calories from protein is enough, the same percentage is sufficient for all the future phases in life when growth is not that dominant.
The breast milk of other species have different protein contents, and thus they are inadequate food for the human species.
Vegetables have a greater percentage of calories from proteins, but in general fewer calories. Nuts and seeds generally contain more fat and proteins than fruits and veggies, making them more difficult to digest. This is why nuts and seeds are best eaten in moderation.
An adequate calorie intake through a fresh fruit and veggie diet, with small amounts of nuts and seeds, provides about 10% calories from proteins which is sufficient. Modern western diets are high protein diets that result in many health issues: osteoporosis, kidney stones, kidney insufficiency, arthritis, damage of blood vessel inner walls, tumor growths, and low energy level.
And so we are left with a question and concern: How do we avoid too much protein? We get the answer in our natural diet.
Nope. 🙂 Now it is time for the next lesson!