Protein: Where I Get Mine, Part II
Today we will keep discovering interesting facts about protein. The first article in this series can be found here.
Now, the next question is, “Oh, yeah, but the plant-based protein is not a complete protein”. Are you familiar with the idea of taking a spoon of rice and a spoon of beans, and chewing them up at the exact same time so you have a complete mix, and it’s a complete protein? I am pretty sure you’ve heard this before. But again, this is based on studies done on rats, and we already know, that rats have two more essential amino acids than humans do. This is the fact number one.
The other thing is quite fascinating, and has been figured out quite some time ago. You can find this information in books like “Guidance Textbook on Medical Physiology”. If you read books like that you will discover that our body actually has an amino acid pool and an amino acid recycling mechanism. This is pretty cool, but, of course, we won’t hear that from the US Department of Agriculture, because they want us to consume their products.
Let’s take a closer look at this phenomenon and find out how it works.
Amino Acid Recycling Mechanism
What happens is, every day, when we consume protein — let’s say we get 30, 50 or 60 grams of protein a day from the outside — in addition to that, there is another 200 grams of protein that comes from within us! And it comes from epithelial cells which line our mouth and all our intestines, as well as some other things in our body. You probably heard that lining of our stomach renews itself every 3-4 days or so. That’s true — those epithelial cells are constantlysloughing off, and they are largely made of protein. The body recycles the amino acids found in those epithelial cells as well as digestive enzymes. Used up digestive enzymes also add to this amino acid pool. So, when we eat food, that stimulates the body to release the used up enzymes and to release the epithelial cells from the lining of our stomach and our intestines, and it all forms together to make up this amino acid pool.
For example, they’ve done some studies where they’ve taken four different meals with completely different amino acid profiles; and then they looked in the bloodstream a few hours later, and found, that even though the four different meals that the people just recently ate, were totally different amino-acid-wise, the amino acid balance and levels in the bloodstream were very-very similar. This is a confirming evidence that our body can add other things, use the amino acid pool, and keep our amino acids at an appropriate level.
Manufacturing of Proteins
The next thing is again, when you think about when our body has to take amino acids and manufacture proteins — it doesn’t happen in our mouth. It happens in a cell. There is a part of the cell called the Endoplasmic Reticulum, and this is where all the amino acids come together and manufacturing of proteins happens. This is where we need all of the amino acids that that particular protein needs to make, including the 8 essential amino acids. All those amino acids are in our blood stream, and as there is a need for them, the amino acids go over to this part of the cell, and proteins get manufactured.
So, to sum things up here: We have an amino acid recycling mechanism and an amino acid pool, and 200 grams of protein come from epithelial cells and used up digestive enzymes. And that’s actually MORE than amount of protein most people consume! So, if someone asks you where you get your protein, tell them, “From human flesh”. And then they probably won’t bother you anymore.
The important thing to understand here is this: You do NOT find protein deficiency when there is an adequate amount of calories. That just doesn’t happen. The definition for that which is called Kwashiorkor doesn’t even exist anymore in the literature. When there is a calorie deficiency, there is also a carbohydrate deficiency, a dietary fat deficiency as well as a protein deficiency.
I like what Dr. John McDougall said on protein deficiency. He challenges any Dietitian or any Nutritionist to come up with a healthy plant-based diet that’s deficient in protein. It’s almost impossible to do. For example, if you are to eat only apples. They have 1% of their calories from protein, which is not enough. So, if you ate ONLY apples for maybe weeks at a time, you may end up with a protein deficiency. You probably would take months at a time, because even though people eat nothing for weeks at a time at fasting centers, they don’t end up with a protein deficiency. Bottom line here: There is plenty of protein in whole natural plant foods.
Another interesting thing to consider: when you heat a protein you denature it, and when you cook a protein about 50% of a value of that protein is lost. So, potentially, when you get your protein from raw fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, you may actually need even less, because that protein hasn’t been denatured and altered by heat.
More Calories — More Nutrition
Let’s just say you are the average Joe who eats 2000 calories a day, and then you start training a whole bunch, and now you are eating 4000 calories a day. Well, when you eat twice as much food, you get twice as much protein, you get twice as much carbohydrates, twice as much fat, twice as much fiber, twice as much everything. If you need more of this stuff you’ll get it as your caloric needs increase as well.
Why Such High Recommendations Today
Most of the studies are still based on the 1910s and the 1940s where they looked at rats, and that’s still being promoted because it supports eating dead animals and dairy products, which is not the best thing for us.
The other thing is, that they still don’t recognize that our body has this amino acid recycling mechanism. They are figuring the total amount of protein that we need, not realizing that a great majority of it comes from within us (from the epithelial cells and used up digestive enzymes). So, they are probably coming out with about the right number, but they are assuming you’ve got to get all of it from the diet, whereas you actually getting most of it from within from recycling, and you only need to add a little bit extra from the diet.
Stay tuned for the last third part of this article where I’ll tell about the dangers of consuming excess protein.
Here’s to Your Protein Awareness,