Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Protein Woes

For all vegans (and vegetarians) the subject of protein intake is a popular one. Dr. John McDougall released a newsletter in April of this year that covers this subject at length. He admits that sadly our policy makers and educators remain "ignorant about our nutritional needs." The American Heart Association incorrectly states that plant proteins are "deficient in 1 or more amino acids and therefore regarded as incomplete proteins."

John explains that "proteins are made from chains of 20 different amino acids that connect together in varying sequences - similar to how all words in a dictionary are made up of the same 26 letters...plants are made up of structurally sound cells with enzymes and hormones, they are by nature rich sources of proteins. Plants are so nutrient equipped, that they satisfy protein needs of some of the largest animals like elephants, hippos, giraffes, and cows.

More, Dr. McDougall states that the WHO (world health organization) recommends that men and women obtain 5% of their calories as protein.
38 grams for men, burning 3000 calories per day
29 grams for women, burning 2300 calories per day

The above totals are easily met by unrefined starches and veggies. "Rice alone would provide 71 grams of highly usable protein and white potatoes would provide 64 grams of protein." For a child, in the first 2 years of life, the best option is human milk which is 5% protein. Millions of laboring folk in Asia, Africa, and Central and South America survive on half the protein we do here in the states, without deficiency, obviously the popular understanding of protein needs are flawed.

Page 4 of the newsletter includes a chart of amino acid requirements provided by Dr. William Rose, check it out, you will be shocked by how simple it is to obtain all amino acids in a veggie diet.

Another surprising fact I read is that potatoes alone will do if you are looking to proper nutrients in your diet. "The potato is such a great source of nutrition that it can supply all of the essential protein and amino acids for young children i times of food shortage. Researchers found that this simple potato diet provided all the protein and essential amino acids to meet the needs of small children."

EXCESS PROTEIN (unlike fat) cannot be stored. McDougall explains, "Proteins are made of amino acids, and are, therefore acidic by nature. ANIMAL proteins are abundant in sulfur-containing amino acids which break down into very powerful sulfuric acid. These amino acids are abundant in hard cheese, red meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs, and their acids must be neutralized by buffers found in the bones. The bones dissolve to release the buffering materials; eventually resulting in a condition of weakened bones (osteoporosis). Released bone materials often settle and coalesce i the kidney system, causing kidney stones. Fruits and vegetables are largely alkaline, preserving bone health and preventing kidney stones.

Let's also remember the environmental impact! Livestock produces 18% of the greenhouse gases, says the doc, and these food animals occupy 26% of the ice free surface of the earth and 33% of the total arable land is used to produce their food.

High protein foods are usually high profit foods. The protein myth must live on because of ego's and money.

Please check out the entire newsletter here: THE MCDOUGALL NEWSLETTER

1 comment:

Tuco said...

Have you read Michael Pollan's "The Omnivore's Dilemma?"
He's not a vegetarian, but it's a really good firsthand look at how our food gets to our tables.