About Protein

National statistics certainly would suggest that Americans are being fattened by hormone residues in meat. The American diet craze (Standard American Diet – SAD) started in the 1950’s a few short years after the use of antibiotics and hormone agents to add bulk to livestock became a common practice in feedlots. Americans are consuming fewer calories but gaining more weight than ever, Could this phenomenon be America experiencing what is known in feedlots as ‘feed efficiency” (the ability of livestock implanted with hormones to gain more weight on less food)?

The question is very pertinent considering the percentage of Americans that are obese and overweight. The majority of Americans fighting the battle of the bulge are concerned with losing the extra 15 to 20 pounds of excess weight they’re carrying around. This 15 to 20 pounds roughly equals 10 to 20 percent of the average adult’s weight; livestock implanted with hormones generally gain 15 to 19 percent more than their usual weight.

In addition to the battle of excess weight, Americans are struggling with other problems that are side-effects of ingesting hormones (knowingly in the form of birth control pills, bulking supplements for athletes and unknowingly in meats). These problems that have become so widespread include fluid retention, early puberty, hyper-insulinism and diabetes.

After reading about these undesirable residues. Some might consider a switch to organic meats to feed old tastes and habits – but anyway it is grown, meat still contains cholesterol and saturated fats.

Another thing to consider that requires us to widen our concern from just ourselves to others is that no matter how it’s grown, meat makes the least efficient use of the world’s food resources.

The bright side of these ‘foods’ most of us have grown up with as the center of our meals is that we don’t have to eat them, since we, and not food manufacturer’s decide what we eat.

We don’t have to eat meat, eggs, or dairy for proper nutrition. These ‘foods’ have traditionally been touted as superior protein foods because they contain all eight essential amino acids (the eight needed but not produced by the body to synthesize protein). However, the presence of cholesterol and saturated fat (not to mention pesticides and other environmental contaminants, antibiotics and hormones) make meat, eggs, and dairy inferior sources of protein.

For good health, cholesterol-free sources of protein are whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds.

While getting an adequate amount of protein is important, daily requirement amounts can be misleading. As with other nutrients, the amount needed depends a great deal on body size, how active the person is, how much stress the body is under and other variables. In general, it’s safe to say that anyone eating a diet consisting of a wide variety of whole grains, legumes, vegetables and fruits doesn’t need to give extra thought to whether they’re getting enough protein (unless they’re body builders, do some heavy physical labor, or are pregnant or nursing).

Such an overemphasis has been placed on the amount of protein needed in the diet that Americans are suffering from overconsumption of protein. Excessive amounts of protein in the diet cause calcium to be leached from the bones, which results in osteoporosis. Meats also have a high phosphate content, and consuming larger quantities of phosphorus than calcium causes the bones to lose calcium.

In relation to the problem of being overweight, studies have shown that fat and protein are the most fattening sources of calories. These studies showed that the animals fed mostly with fat were the fattest, animals who ate mostly protein were next and the animals who ate mostly complex-carbohydrates were the slimmest.

Since adequate amounts of protein can be easily obtained through healthful and naturally slimming complex-carbohydrate foods, a more valid concern is if you’re getting enough vitamin B-12.

If you completely stay away from animal products – this is the one nutrient that must be watched, as no fresh plant food supplies it.

In actuality Vitamin B-12 is produced only by microorganisms – such as bacteria, friendly flora, and algae. Animal foods contain vitamin B-12 because animals bodies, like ours, store large amounts of vitamin B-12. Our bodies store so much vitamin B-12 that a deficiency in the diet can take 5 to 10 years to show up. Animals get their vitamin B-12 from microorganisms in the soil, but since our bodies are built differently and it’s gross, this isn’t advisable.

A good way to include vitamin B-12 in a diet that excludes animal products is through vegetable foods that have been fermented or cultured vegetable foods. Tempeh, miso, soy sauce, nutritional yeast (read the label as the amount varies from brand to brand) and algae type foods such as seaweeds.

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