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. If we don’t we may be aging prematurely.
On the other side of the picture too much protein can create health risks too! High protein diets, once thought of as excellent for weight loss, are actually coming under fire these days for the adverse effects on health including heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, kidney stones and elevated levels of ammonium in the female reproductive tract leading to difficulty conceiving. So clearly we need to be in balance
In this post I am bringing some awareness to the signs of protein deficiency and if you see them some strategies to help you come back into balance.
Protein Deficiency Signs
Constant cravings are one sign of protein deficiency. Not everyone with cravings is protein deficient but protein and unstable sugar are intimately linked. Here are a few things to take note of:
- If you are a vegetarian or rarely eat any animal protein and have cravings for carbs, you feel the need to fill up on bread, pasta or sweets that may be due to a deficiency of protein.
- If you are eating 3 meals a day and find you need to have snacks to maintain your blood sugar, one possible cause could be a deficiency of protein.
Muscle and/or joint pain is another sign of protein deficiency. The body stores much of its protein reserves in the synovial fluid around the joints, to be used to rebuild the muscles and joints after exercise. When one is protein deficient, this reserve is the first to go. As a result, the joints stiffen and the muscles tighten.
Other Symptoms of more Severe Protein Deficiency:
- Hair loss or Thinning brittle hair
- Ridges in finger and toe nails
- Excessive dry skin
- Weak and tired
- Edema (swelling)
If you have any of these symptoms and suspect you may not be getting adequate protein, think about getting a blood test and evaluation of your total serum protein from your healthy care professional.
Are You Digesting Your Proteins?
One of the reasons you may be experiencing protein deficiency is because of a weak digestive system. Many people today have an imbalance in their inner ecosystem and are not digesting proteins efficiently which can lead to a range of problems from a buildup of toxins, aging, weight gain and lowered immunity as well as protein deficiency.
To digest protein you must have strong “digestive fire,” which means adequate amounts of stomach acid or hydrochloric acid (HCl). Animal protein, already intrinsically acid, creates more acidity when undigested. This creates an even greater loss of minerals (and other nutrients). 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.
So what to do…here are a few tips:
- · Eat your protein with plenty of non-starchy vegetables and some fermented vegetables to boost digestion.
- · Separate your starches from your proteins. A meal of animal protein combined with starch (starchy vegetables like potatoes and/or grains), actually causes your stomach acid to be neutralized, reducing your “digestive fire” and causing toxins to build up.
- · Adding 1 teaspoon of raw apple cider vinegar to 12 oz of water and sip it along with your protein meal is a great way to stimulate HCl for enhanced protein digestion.
Options for Treating Protein Deficiency
Vegetarian Protein Shakes Have 2 hemp or rice protein shakes a day for 2 weeks. Buy Organic Raw Hemp Protein Powder gluten free and soy free.
Eat more of the Vegetarian High Protein foods listed below. Many plants such as quinoa, buckwheat, hemp seeds, fermented soy have complete proteins. Others are only slightly incomplete so eat a variety of them to round out the spectrum.
Add Bone Broth into your diet. Bone broth is full of minerals, enhances digestion, fortifies the immune system. Bones are highly mineralized, a well made broth will give your body calcium and other minerals all delivered in a form your body can easily absorb. The gelatin and collagen extracted from bone is protein dense. Add a little apple cider vinegar to the water to pull these precious minerals from the bone. Click for Making Bone Broth Video
Eggs– Cage free organic eggs are full of protein and biotin. Eggs are misunderstood these days. The yolk contains lecithin which aids in fat assimilation. Eggs actively raise the level of HDL which is the good cholesterol. Click for more information about eggs
Medicinal Animal Protein Consider a 2 week program of eating animal protein to rebuild protein and stabilize blood sugar: Eat 4 ounces of red meat a day for 2 weeks. If you can’t do the red meat do free range chicken or wild fish. Always look for animal proteins that are organic and free of hormones and antibiotics and treated humanely. Eat with plenty of vegetables and fermented vegetables
Protein In Plant Foods Chart
FOOD Amount Protein in grams
Avocado 1 avocado 7
Almonds ¼ cup 7.4
Black Beans 1 cup 15
Black eyed peas 1 cup 15
Broccoli 1 cup cooked 5
Brown rice 1 cup cooked 4
Cashews 1/4 cup 5
Chick Peas 1 cup 15
Corn 1 cup 5
Cranberry Beans 1 cup 17
Flax seed 2 Tb 4
Hemp seed 3 Tb 15
Kale 1 cup cooked 2
Kidney Beans 1 cup 15
Lentils 1 cup 18
Lima Beans 1 cup 15
Millet 1 cup 5
Miso 2 Tb 3
Natto 1/2 cup 15
Navy Beans 1 cup 16
Oatmeal 1 cup cooked 6
Almond butter 2 Tb 7
Pinto Beans 1 cup 14
Potato 1 medium 4
Quinoa 1 cup cooked 6
Spinach 1 cup cooked 6
Sunflower seeds 1 oz 6
Sweet potato 1 medium 2
Tempeh 1 cup 30
Walnuts 1 oz 4
I do not advocate a particular policy on protein consumption as we are each unique. It is best to look at all your options and experiment with what works for you body at this time in your life. This way you will be able to successfully guide yourself to your appropriate protein source. When eating animals it is best to do so with great respect and gratitude for the animal that gave it’s life to help yours.