Too much protein and improper digestion of protein can create health risks. The Body Ecology system of health and healing provides a roadmap for healthy protein digestion.
Protein is an important nutrient that is key to every cell in your body. Your body needs protein to build and repair tissues -- and to make enzymes and hormones. Healthy bones, blood, hair, nails and muscles all rely on protein and since our bodies can't store it, we must get high quality protein from our food.
But, are you digesting your protein? Most people are not digesting the protein in their diets, which can lead to a range of problems from a buildup of toxins, aging, weight gain and lowered immunity.
High Protein Diets - Good or Bad?
High protein diets, once thought of as excellent for weight loss, are actually coming under fire these days for the adverse effects on health.
Studies have found that health risks associated with excessive protein intake (especially animal protein) include: heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, kidney stones and elevated levels of ammonium in the female reproductive tract leading to difficulty conceiving.
What Are You Really Losing?
High protein diets can cause loss of:
- Water Weight - weight loss from high protein diets has been found to be mainly water loss.
- Calcium - calcium can be lost for a variety of reasons:
- The diuretic response of a high protein diet actually creates a loss of essential minerals, like calcium, from your body.
- The high phosphorus content in animal protein is another reason calcium could be robbed from your bones.
- Protein is an acid-forming food, so a high protein diet would by nature create more acidic blood. Just like eating too much sugar, eating too much protein can cause osteoporosis as the blood tries to become more alkaline, robbing calcium from your bones.
- Energy - over time, a high protein diet can cause loss of energy.
- Sleep - a high protein diet could cause sleeplessness in some people.
- Wellbeing - some people feel heavy or tense on high protein diets.
How Much Protein? Two Key Body Ecology Principles
The high protein diet is not the answer for long-term weight loss or health. In fact, it is out of balance.
Balance is one of the key principles of the Body Ecology system of health and healing. Remember the old adage, everything in moderation? Body Ecology takes this wisdom a step further by providing a roadmap for balance, since your body is always seeking to be in homeostasis.
For example, Body Ecology teaches that a high protein diet would be very contractive and as your body seeks balance, it would begin to crave more expansive foods. This type of imbalance could lead to cravings for sweet, processed foods.
The principle of 80/20 is an important guideline for how much protein to include in your diet. 80% of your meal should be non-starchy land and/or ocean vegetables and the remaining 20% should be protein (or a grain, if you are not eating a protein meal). Always emphasizing vegetables, with a focus on adding fermented vegetables, is critical to creating a healthy inner ecosystem and improving your vitality.
Protein and Your Inner Ecosystem - The Missing Link
The missing link to proper protein digestion lies in your inner ecosystem. You must have a strong, vital inner ecosystem to get all the benefits of protein, instead of the risks.
A healthy inner ecosystem is made up of the friendly microorganisms (bacteria and yeast) that reside in our intestines and keep us healthy and strong.
Friendly bacteria and yeast must be present in your intestines to convert toxic byproducts from the protein back into useful amino acids (building blocks of protein). If this does not occur, your intestines become foul and polluted, which contaminates your entire body.
Most people today have an imbalance in their inner ecosystem and are not digesting protein.
Combine this with eating large amounts of animal protein two to three times per day and you can imagine the burden this places on your liver, kidneys, heart and intestines.
Digestion of Protein - What Can Go Wrong & Why
Here are some reasons you may not be digesting protein and contributing to an unhealthy inner ecosystem:
Not Enough Stomach Acid
To digest protein you must have strong "digestive fire," which means adequate amounts of stomach acid or hydrochloric acid (HCl). For most Americans today, HCl and other digestive enzymes are inadequate or non-existent.
Animal proteins not digested in the stomach, reach the intestines, creating toxins and gases that are basically poisonous to your body.
Animal protein, already intrinsically acid, creates more acidity when undigested. This creates an even greater loss of minerals (and other nutrients), eventually contributing to weakening your adrenals, which are responsible for energy (along with your thyroid) and youth. For more information on signs of adrenal fatigue and how to heal, read: Sleeping Trouble? Discover Why Winter Is the Ideal Time to Learn how to Sleep Right.
Ironically, if you are deficient in minerals, your stomach will not produce enough stomach acid -- creating a vicious cycle. Low stomach acid = low minerals, then low minerals = low stomach acid.
Improper Food Combining
The meat and potatoes meal, characteristic of the Standard American Diet, contributes to an inner ecosystem imbalance. A meal of animal protein combined with starch (starchy vegetables like potatoes and/or grains), actually causes your stomach acid to be neutralized, stopping all digestion and opening the door to potential pathogens.
Instead, have your protein meals with plenty of non-starchy land and ocean vegetables.
80/20 In Reverse
Think about the last time you went out to dinner in a restaurant. Instead of your plate containing 80% vegetables and 20% protein, this ratio is usually the other way around.
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It's no surprise that you'd feel overfull and have symptoms of bloating or other digestive discomfort after a meal like this.
Timing Is Everything
Animal protein is contracting and the best time to eat contractive foods is between 11:00 am - 2:00 pm, when your body has enough energy to digest them.
- Improving Protein Digestion
The Body Ecology system of health and healing is a great way to get you on the road to good protein digestion. Along with eating protein meals at midday, proper food combining and following the 80/20 principle, here are some tips that will help:
- Fermented Foods and Drinks - Including fermented foods and drinks, like cultured vegetables and Young Coconut Kefir, with your protein meals provides enzymes that enhance protein digestion.
- ·Rare or Raw - Meat that is fully cooked is very difficult to digest. If you are willing to eat your animal protein rare or raw (e.g., salmon or tuna sashimi), you will find it much easier to digest.If you are eating your animal protein raw, freeze it for at least 48 hours to destroy parasites, then defrost. Fermented foods and drinks add another level of protection against parasites.
- Antibiotic & Hormone Free - look for animal proteins that are organic and free of hormones and antibiotics, whenever possible.
- Assist SI and Assist Dairy and Protein - The capacity of humans to make enzymes diminishes with age. Body Ecology created Assist SI and Assist Dairy and Protein to provide these precious enzymes and aid in the complete digestion of protein and dairy products both in the stomach and the small intestine.
- Apple Cider Vinegar - Adding 1 teaspoon of raw apple cider vinegar to warm water and sipping it along with your protein meal is a great way to stimulate HCl for enhanced digestion.
You hold the reins for making diet and lifestyle changes that can improve your health. The Body Ecology system of health and healing will get you well on your way to good digestion so that you can get all of the benefits of protein.