You really don’t need a great deal of protein in order to be well which brings me to the worrying trend of the high protein diets including protein powders, soy isolates and shakes. Too much protein intake together with a low fat diet can lead to vitamin A deficiency, it burdens the digestive system and has been linked to cancer. (16) Unfermented processed soy ‘foods’ are problematic for a number of reasons- from blocking protein digestion to hormone disruption.
Welcome back to our piece on Protein- in part B we look at ‘how much’ and ‘how best to prepare’ protein foods.
How much protein do we need? The Australian & New Zealand standards recommend that approximately 25% of energy intake come from protein. As the amount of energy varies for your level of output so too these quantities change- so that a body builder or nursing mother will be turning over greater amounts than a sedentary adult female. An easier way to measure is grams per kilogram. The figures provided by ANZ standards is the amount recommended to avoid deficiency (17). What we really want is enough protein to remain strong and well with between .8 and 1.5 grams per kilogram (ideal body weight) considered optimal. What does this look like on your plate? For a 60kg female who is athletic- if she is aiming for 1.5g per kilogram of protein per day, this amounts to 90g of protein per day. for e.g.
You really don’t need a great deal of protein in order to be well which brings me to the worrying trend of the high protein diets including protein powders, soy isolates and shakes. Too much protein intake together with a low fat diet can lead to vitamin A deficiency, it burdens the digestive system and has been linked to cancer. (16) Unfermented processed soy ‘foods’ are problematic for a number of reasons- from blocking protein digestion to hormone disruption. (18) This burden on digestion helps to explain the principals behind the use of proteolytic enzymes in the complimentary treatment of Cancer. Researcher Dr William Kelley, and Dr Nicholas Gonzalez noted that depletion of protein-degrading enzymes as a result of either stressful living, poor digestion or surplus protein in the diet was linked to unchecked growth of tumour structures in the body. (13) More recent research highlights the benefits of including glycine-rich bone broths, skin and cartilage from the whole animal rather than just the methionine-rich muscle meat. Again we see the wisdom of traditional diets such as nose-to-tail eating being bourn out through modern science studies. (15)
The quantities above are a good general guide and I do also recommend a day or two of simple, low calorie meals to replicate the conditions under which hunter gatherers might have existed. Genetically and metabolically we are designed to deal with periods of scarcity so taking a couple of fasting* days a week can exercise this adaptability and thus reduce our risk of diseases. (14) *Seek medical advice prior to implementing dietary changes.
Correct preparation of protein-
‘You are what you absorb ’ goes a step beyond ‘you are what you eat’ and quite rightly as the vast majority of my clients come to me with digestive difficulties. It may be that you are eating a broad, organic diet with expensive supplements to boot, however without good digestion it is as we say “money down the toilet”. If you have gut symptoms such as reflux, burping or if food seems to sit in your stomach for too long, it may be that you have low stomach acid. Protein will more likely ferment in this case and putrefy further along the digestive tract- as protein-breaking enzymes need stomach acid to work. If we are to take a leaf from traditional European cultures, we should have a vinaigrette on our pre-meal salad or drink fresh organic lemon juice or apple cider vinegar in mineral water with meals or better still add a good helping of raw fermented vegetables such as raw sauerkraut together with our cooked protein. Both the improved stomach acidity and the introduction of beneficial gut flora/ bugs will assist tremendously in protein digestion and absorption . You’ll find good quality fermented vegetables in the cold section of health foods stores- ideally though you would make you own quite simply using a traditional fermenting crock available in Australia through a number of outlets.
Most cultures enjoy raw seafoods or meat in small amounts which we know now to be an excellent source of B vitamins. I say raw but in fact citrus juices and spicy marinades were traditionally used to ‘cook’ the protein and to kill bad bugs . My personal favourite is a French mince dish blended with french mustard, lemon, capers and parsley. Nourishing Traditions is an excellent cook book and resource written by the president of the Weston Price foundation Sally Fallon and scientist Mary Enig (4). Here you will find a load of traditional recipes from bone broths to ceviche (raw marinated seafood dishes of South America).
Take away protein morsels:
Note the beautiful broad dental arch and perfect teeth and bone structure of those on their traditional diet compared to the narrow crowded structure noted by Weston Price in those eating a processed industrialised diet. Degenerative diseases were closely related to the dental health and structure of his study subjects.
Jillaine is passionate about Traditional FOOD AS MEDICINE. She lives on an organic farm in Cygnet Tasmania.