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Protein is an essential component in the growth, repair, and maintenance of all your body tissues. But not only is it necessary for life but it might also be beneficial in helping us with weight management it might even be helpful when trying to take off a few extra pounds.

Let’s look at the Power of Protein:

Protein is absolutely necessary for us to survive.  It is required not only for growth and repair but also for making enzymes.  Enzymes are responsible to get stuff happening and happening at the right time and at the right speed.  They are essential to all life processes.

Protein also is required for hormones.  These are powerful little chemical messengers that move around through your bloodstream to specific specialized cells.  Once there, they can create a wide range of responses within your body.

Protein is also responsible for helping to maintain the body’s fluid and electrolyte balance.

Protein provides a source of energy.

And Protein works with the immune system to help your body fight off disease.

These are the many powers of protein!

But your body can only carry out the many tasks listed above when we supply it with adequate amounts of dietary protein by consuming a variety of foods.  These can include meat, fish, and poultry, as well as soy and milk.  Each one of these protein types supplies the body with amino acids.

Amino Acids are the bricks that the body uses when it is making proteins.  With a steady supply of building blocks, the body can manufacture its own essential proteins.

The Problem: Not All Protein Is Created Equal

Every time we eat protein it can provide us with 20 different amino acids.  Eleven of these amino acids are “nonessential.” This just means the body can make these amino acids for itself. But that leaves nine other amino acids.  These are the “essential” ones because your body can’t make them on its own. Not all protein has all 20 amino acids.

Another problem that can be seen when talking about protein consumption is that unlike the carbohydrates and fats that we eat, the amino acids do not get stored in the body. So we have to provide our bodies with a constant, steady supply of building materials (amino acids) from the protein-rich foods we eat.

So we need to eat protein every day and we need to make sure it has all the required amino acids our body needs so it can perform all those powerful tasks we need it to do.

So what should we eat?  What is the best source of dietary protein? Is there a difference between fish, red meat and white meat?  And what about vegetable sources like soy?

These are great questions, because the quality of protein that we eat can determine how well children grow and develop into adults.  And it also effects how well adults will maintain their health and all that goes with living a healthy life.

High-quality proteins provide enough of all the essential amino acids needed to support the body’s work, and lower-quality proteins don’t. The quality of a protein can be determined by its digestibility and its amino acid composition.

Protein digestibility just means how much of the amino acids available actually get absorbed into your body.  And amino acid composition refers to how many of the 20 and especially the 9 required amino acids are found in the protein we chose to eat.

Some high quality proteins are those from animals like meat, fish, chicken, and dairy. Plant based protein from Soy protein is also considered a high quality protein. Most other plant based sources such as fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains are considered low quality because they don’t have all the essential amino acids our body requires.

Besides being required for so many essential daily functions in our body, protein has other health benefits.

However, research suggests that the intake of high-quality protein as part of a healthy diet may also have positive effects on other aspects of our lives.  These include weight management and muscle retention as we get older.  Studies have also shown protein may play a role in the prevention of certain diseases such as heart disease, certain types of cancer, and osteoporosis.

It has been shown that weight management and achieving a healthy weight can add years to your life and quality to those years.  Through these studies, scientists now believe that high quality dietary protein may play an important role in weight management.

It has been shown that diets high in protein can promote higher weight loss compared to lower protein diets. Part or all of this could be due to the fact that proteins satisfy your body’s needs and reduce cravings.

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition did a study not too long ago where researchers studied the effects of increasing dietary protein while maintaining carbohydrate levels.  Participants were initially given a diet lower in protein for the first 2 weeks.  For the next 2 weeks, the carbs were kept the same but the fat was cut and the protein increased.  Calorie levels were kept the same.  And finally in the last 12 weeks, the participants were allowed to eat as much as they wanted as long as they kept the same percentages of carbohydrates, proteins and fats that were used in the high protein diet.

Even though the participants were allowed to eat as much as they wanted, the average calorie intact went down by over 400 calories per day.  The group lost an average of almost 11 pounds and more than 8 of those were body fat pounds.

Ok, so you should be convinced you need protein and you need the high quality stuff, but how much do we need and what’s the best kind?

That’s a tough question because we are all different.  But most people need right around 1 gram of protein for every kilogram of body weight.  A kilogram is 2.2 pounds so a 110 pound person is 50 kilos and would need about 50 grams of protein.  If they are a growing child or a pregnant woman the amount could go up.  People who are working out and “bulking up” can also require a little more and research shows older adults can benefits from getting a little extra protein.  An accepted range is 0.8 to 1.3 grams for every 2.2 pounds of body weight.

It doesn’t take a whole lot to get this and if you eat a well rounded diet you should be fine.  Be careful though, a cup of coffee for breakfast or chips and a coke for lunch do not count as a well rounded diet.

You should also be careful in what comes along with the protein you consume. An 8 ounce porterhouse steak is a great source of a high quality protein.  It can get you around 50 grams of it. The problem is you also consume around 40 grams of fat and a good chunk of that is saturated fat which can raise cholesterol and increase the risk for heart disease.  So this might not be a good source for everyday.

A cup of cooked lentils, on the other hand, has almost 20 grams of proteins (good high quality stuff) but it has less than 1 gram of fat.  For many of us it may not be quite as tasty but if we can start to make at least a few of our meals using these alternative sources we can still enjoy life and enjoy it even more because we are energetic and healthy.

Vegetable sources of protein, including soy protein beverage mixes, are also an excellent choice especially for those looking for a meal replacement because of time or calorie intake. Many of these protein shakes also provide healthful amounts of other essential nutrients such as fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

If you are a real meat and potatoes kind a guy than your best animal protein choices are fish and chicken. If you just gotta have your red meat, such as beef, pork, or lamb, try to stick with the leanest cuts, cut down to moderate portion sizes, and try to make it only an occasional part of your diet instead of every day.

With just a little work, protein has the power to achieve a healthier life.

It’s definitely something to think about!

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Soy Protein: A Healthy Plant Alternative

Soy Protein has hit the market hard and is quickly becoming the ‘next’ big health food. But it not just a fad, Soy is a great way to get the protein your body needs. The problem with Soy becoming so popular is that everyone wants to jump on the bandwagon and they are willing to do whatever it takes to get a piece of the pie; including creating products that have an inferior quality soy protein.

If you aren’t too concerned about quality then it’s much easier to make things cheaper and get them to the market quicker. Why spend money on a quality product that really does what it claims when it is much more cost effective to spend your money on glitzy advertising and celebrity endorsements.

Just like everything else you buy, there is a tradeoff between quality and quantity. But when it comes to your health is it worth saving a few cents every day.

Soy has become one of the most confusing and controversial subjects lately. The following checklist points out what is required to make sure you are getting a good Soy Protein that will benefit you health and wellness.

Soy Quality Control Checklist

There are Seven Essential quality controls that should be followed and met by the manufacturer of your soy products in order for them to produce quality products. Failure to follow these seven guidelines could result in soy products that produce less than optimum health results.

1. The beans must be organically grown

2. The beans must NOT be genetically engineered

3. Each batch must be checked to confirm that it contains the 9 essential amino acids

4. When producing the soy isolate, the crushed soy flakes must be water washed (not alcohol washed)

5. The anti-thyroid/anti-growth substance MUST be removed

6. The process must be without heat

7. The soy isolate must have calcium added (when the oil is removed it becomes an acidic food .. when calcium is added it makes it neutral again)

The following information explains each of the 7 Essential Soy Protein quality controls

The Importance of Organically Grown Soy – Studies conducted on chemically fertilized crops show decreased levels of food nutrients and increased levels of nitrates compared to crops that are organically grown. Studies have also shown a direct connection between the ingestion of nitrates & CANCER. So to produce the best product for optimal health it is important to know that things like pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides weren’t used on the growing soy beans. Soy beans are a very hardy plant so non-organic crops quite often have very powerful and deadly sprays used on them. For your health and safety it is critical that your soy products are organically grown.

Genetically Engineered Soy Beans – are much cheaper to purchase, and most companies producing soy products look for ways to save money. However, the old saying quite often holds true, “You get what you pay for!”.

It must contain ALL of the nine essential amino acids – One of the most valuable features of the soybean is that it is a complete protein and provides ALL nine of the essential amino acids. The body requires these daily to produce hormones, digestive juices, antibodies, and enzymes. HOWEVER, not all soybeans are created equal. The quality and amino acid content of soy beans can vary depending on soil conditions, and variable growing and harvest conditions. If one essential amino acid is missing, the immune system can be depressed 30%, and many important body functions are delayed or stopped. Therefore, it is essential that each batch of soybeans be checked for amino acid content. Without this assurance you cannot be guaranteed that you body is receiving everything it needs to maintain optimal health.

Water Washing – If the soy flakes are washed in alcohol the isoflavone content is destroyed by as much as 88%. The isoflavones are the part of the soy bean that reduce the risk of breast, prostate, lung and bowel cancer! They are also beneficial in hormone balancing and increasing bone mass.

Removal of Anti-thyroid /Anti-growth substance – RAW soy contains an “anti-growth”, “anti-tyrosine” substance. Tyrosine deficiency will cause low blood pressure, low body temperature, and restless leg syndrome. Therefore, it is important to deactivate the “anti-tyrosine/anti-growth” substance. The Shaklee Corporation has designed an extracting process that removes this substance, yet keeps the soy in a raw form in order to maintain the HIGHEST LEVEL OF AMINO ACIDS and ISOFLAVONES which are very sensitive to heat.

Was your soybean food heated? Amino acids are very sensitive to heat. In some studies, cooking protein has been shown to destroy up to 50% of some ESSENTIAL AMINO ACIDS. If an individual consistently consumes a diet that is lacking in all of the essential amino acids, inadequate brain development and hormones, or other body tissue development can be the result.

Has CALCIUM been added to your soy powder? One of the possible negatives about soy is that soy powders are VERY ACIDIC and cause bone loss because it causes calcium to be drawn from the bones!!!! The truth is, the raw soy bean is a NEUTRAL food (neither acidic nor alkaline), but when the soybean oil is removed it makes the powder very acidic. (The oil must be removed so the soy powder will not go rancid.) Therefore, adequate calcium (which is very alkaline and balances the soy powder) must be added so the powder will be neutral. Many protein powder manufacturers do not add any or enough calcium.

Some soy FAQ’s (Frequently Asked Questions)

Do soy beans cause cancer?

It is true that “overcooked” soy does contain “carcinogenic” compounds. When soy is extruded through high temperature, high pressure steam nozzles it forms what is called “textured vegetable protein – TVP for short”. Soy that is processed in this way can cause the soy product to be carcinogenic or cancer-causing. TVP is what is used in soy dogs and soy burgers, and should be avoided.

What about roasted soybeans?

Whole soy beans are high in plant fat. If soybeans are roasted to eat as soy nuts, the heat alters the fat and makes it a trans-fatty acid, which causes both cancer and heart disease. As roasted soy nuts sit on the shelf or in the cupboard in storage, the oils are becoming more and more rancid and carcinogenic. AVOID roasted soy beans.

Aren’t soy proteins hard on the kidneys?

Animal protein is much harder to digest than vegetable protein. Since many people have digestive difficulties, protein that is not thoroughly digested is very challenging to the kidneys. Powdered protein is in a predigested state, and is the BEST protein source to choose! Protein is not the enemy – it is essential for life. However, it is true that EXCESSIVE protein is hard on the kidneys, so if a person consumes more than 2 grams of protein per pound of body weight daily, AND does not consume adequate carbohydrates with it, this could cause kidney damage.

I have been told I can’t have soy because I have breast cancer…

It is true that soy is a “phyto-estrogen” food, which means it contains substances that have hormone-like components. However, their estrogen strength is 1/1000th that of the body’s own stronger estrogens. Therefore, you want to load your digestive system with quality controlled raw soy powder, because these weaker estrogens will block the estrogen receptor sites from receiving your body’s own stronger estrogens and therefore be very protective against estrogen fed cancer.

I want to thank Dr. Richard Brouse for much of the information found in this article. Dr. Brouse received his Master’s Degree in Biochemistry from Western States College of Colorado in 1970. He was appointed by the U.S. Surgeon General to conduct metabolic research at the Army Burn Research Center in San Antonio, Texas from 1970 through 1972 on the effects of burn stress upon the immune system. His work was published and coauthored with Dr. Eurenius in the September, 1973, issue of the American Journal of Clinical Pathology. Dr. Brouse, in 1977, received his Doctor of Chiropractic Degree from Western States Chiropractic College located in Portland, Oregon. He taught Organic Chemistry, Biochemistry, and served as a Professor of Clinical Nutrition at Western States Chiropractic College for 14 years.