By Brenda Richter
All food has a macronutrient content consisting of some combination of protein, fats and carbohydrates. With all of the information available to us, we may get confused about determining what kinds of each we should consume and how much.
It is a common misconception that animal protein is the optimal form of protein. What is important is that you look for synergistic protein from a variety of sources, as this provides a balanced amino acid profile.
Animal protein is highly acidic. The more alkaline you are, the healthier you are. Studies show people who get 70 percent of their protein from animal products have major health difficulties compared to those who get just 5 percent of their protein that way. Seventeen times the death rate from heart disease and five times the likelihood of dying from breast cancer. There is a strong correlation between animal protein and several kinds of cancer, particularly breast, thyroid, prostate, pancreatic, stomach, ovarian, endometrial and colon.
Protein can be found in all natural foods. Although there may be some nutrients in animal-based foods even after cooking them, when you consider the high volume of health risks in cancer, the high levels of acidity, the added stress and energy levels required to digest and extract those nutrients, in addition to the longer time it takes to to break those animal proteins, it may not be worth the risks.
Vegetables carry all the amino acids (the building blocks of protein) the body needs. Green, leafy vegetables are particularly high in protein, at about 50 percent protein. Vegetables and fruits taken together have about 15 percent of their calories as protein. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) is only slightly higher than that (at 20 percent). Keep in mind that the RDA must build in a cushion to assume people won’t absorb all the protein they’re eating (true if it’s cooked protein). But you absorb more when you eat protein from raw sources.
Consider the strongest animals in the world like the gorilla and the elephant eat no meat, but live on grass and leaves. Expert research suggests we need only 25 grams, just 1 ounce, of protein a day. The average American eating meat, eggs and dairy gets 75 to 125 grams a day, three to five times more than we actually need.
Quality plant-based proteins include: hemp protein, yellow pea protein, brown rice protein, flaxseed, chlorella, almonds, seeds, and green, leafy vegetables.
You may ask, why isn’t soy protein listed here? Despite its popularity, soy has several faults you may not be aware of. It is difficult to digest and contains enzyme inhibitors that actually halt protein digestion! Soy undergoes high-tech processing to extract the protein. However, this process does not remove the naturally-occurring toxins and carcinogens present in soybeans.
Soy is acid-forming with a pH level of 5 and is also a common allergen, causing symptons that are difficult to identify and often go unrecognized. Most soy, unless certified organic, is also genetically modified. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are something we should stay clear of. (For more info about GMOs, go to http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/geneticall7.cfm.)
What about whey protein? Derived from dairy, another common allergen (especially the casein and lactose it contains), whey is an isolate that undergoes multiple processes that destroy bioactive compounds. A fractionated food, whether it be soy, whey, or vitamin isolates, is acid forming on your body). Whey is difficult to digest (it only has about 70 percent digestibility). Low digestibility means your body cannot efficiently use whey’s protein, and low protein absorption results in protein being stored as fat. This is counterproductive, considering most people do not want to store excess fat.
Your body is very smart and can balance itself out. Your body has the ability to regenerate, heal and excel. You simply need to give it the opportunity to do so. Organic produce is a low-cost preventive means to good health.
A diet composed of raw foods is more than plain vegetables and pieces of fruit. Imagine chocolate mousse,
“not” tuna pâté, or zucchini noodles marinara, all made exclusively from fresh fruits, veggies or natural fats like avocados, nuts or seeds. Check out my classes and get inspired! Go to myrawenergy.com or call (815) 543-1207 for more details.
Brenda Richter is a graduate of Living Light Culinary Arts Institute, where she received her certification as a Raw Culinary Arts associate chef and instructor. She’s passionate about sharing the living foods lifestyle with others, and teaches raw culinary arts classes in the Rockford area.
From the April 14-20, 2010 issue