Are you getting your daily requirements?
One of the main problems I encounter in clinic is client’s overall dietary deficiency in daily protein. There are many factors for this macro nutrient deficiency. Firstly there is a lot of misinformation regarding protein itself and secondly clients seem afraid of acidifying their bodies by eating too much protein and thirdly it can often be the cost involved, particularly with a large family to feed. To understand protein and its requirements here are the facts:
Before any health issues can be resolved, healing, regeneration, balancing or detoxification undertaken the body must have its required daily protein intake.
Protein is an essential part of the diet. It is made up of various combinations of small organic chemicals called Amino acids. When we eat food, containing protein it is broken down during digestion into its constituent amino acids. These amino acids are absorbed by our bodies and are used to produce new proteins and other necessary substances. Our bodies can make some of the amino acids (non-essential) (see table 1) needed to manufacture proteins, but others must be obtained from the diet; these are the eight so-called amino acid during early growth and development ‘essential’ amino acids (table 1). In addition, infants need one other for growth and development.
Proteins form part of the structure of the body, so that a continual supply of amino acids is needed. Our bodies are able to put these basic amino acid units together, using different arrangements of amino acids, to produce specific proteins, which can only be produced if all the necessary amino acids are available.
(*) Essential only in certain cases.
(**) Pyrrolysine, sometimes considered “the 22nd amino acid”, is not listed here as it is not used by humans
Eukaryotes can synthesize some of the amino acids from other substrates. Consequently, only a subset of the amino acids used in protein synthesis are essential nutrients.
The nutritional value of a protein food can be judged by its ability to provide both the quantity and number of essential amino acids needed by the body. Different food sources contain different groups of proteins, which are made up of different arrangements and amounts of amino acids. In general, proteins from animal sources are of greater nutritional value because they usually contain all the essential amino acids. Proteins from plant sources, such as cereals and vegetables, may be deficient in one or other of the essential amino acids. For example, the proteins obtained from wheat lack adequate quantities of one essential amino acid, and those from beans are deficient in another.
Because the deficiency is different in each food, when they are eaten together they complement each other and the mixture is of higher nutritional value than the separate foods, and is as good as animal protein. It is important, particularly for strict vegetarians who do not consume dairy or egg products (see Table2a), that a variety of different types of protein foods are eaten.
Cooking can alter the amino-acid composition of protein and this usually results in desirable flavour and browning development. Very little nutritional value is lost.
RECOMMENDED DAILY DIETARY INTAKE OF PROTEIN IN AUSTRALIA
The recommended dietary intake (RDI) in Australia is one gram per kilogram of body weight per day. The protein intake for a 70-kilogram man is 70 grams and for a 58-kilogram woman, 58 grams per day. However growing children, pregnant and lactating women, people undergoing stress, or are unwell (severe infections or surgery) or undergo heavy exercise or work have a greater requirement for protein because of the additional needs of these conditions (see Table 2b).
A deficiency of protein in the diet can lead to muscle wasting, fatigue, weight loss, illness, oedema, anaemia and, in children, a failure to thrive, behaviour and attention problems. Higher levels of protein consumption appear to be neither beneficial nor harmful. However, it is possible that additional calcium may be required to counterbalance an excessive protein intake. Also there is a higher load of protein breakdown products, which must be excreted by the kidneys. This is where the theoretical concerns for acidity are derived from, however if you eat a variety of fruit, vegetables and leafy greens this becomes a very well-balanced diet.
|Grams of protein in animal foods vs. plant foods|
|Animal Proteins (100g)||Grams of protein||Plant Proteins (100g)||Grams of protein|
|Beef||29-32 grams||Legumes (Chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans)||6-7 grams|
|Chicken||25-28 grams||Nuts (Almonds, brazil nuts, cashews)||15-20 grams|
|Fish||18-23 grams||Seeds (Sunflower, sesame, pepitas)||20-22 grams|
|Eggs||5 grams per egg||Tofu||8 grams|
|Cheese (Cheddar)||25 grams||Leafy greens (Spinach, kale, rocket, lettuce, bok choi etc)||1.6 – 4.3 grams
(Kale is the highest at 4.3 grams)
|Yoghurt (Natural)||5 grams||Vegetables (Broccoli, beans, snow peas, cucumber, zucchini, peas)||0.8 – 5.1 grams (Green peas are the highest at 5.1g)|
|Milk (Whole)||3 grams||Fruits (Apples, bananas, pears, kiwifruit etc)||0.3 – 1.7 grams|
|Protein powder (Whey)||80-90 grams||Protein powder (pea)||82 grams|
|Daily Protein Requirements|
|Activity Level/Age group||Grams of protein|
|Low activity (sedentary) adults||Males 1g per kg Females 0.8-1g per kg|
|Light to moderate exercise – adults||1.2-1.4 g per kg|
|Active/Teenagers||1.4-1.6g per kg|
|Very active/Young children||1.6-1.8g per kg|
|Weight training/Infants||1.8-2.0g per kg|
|*Generally women require 15% less protein than males. The required protein intake throughout pregnancy is 1.2g per kg of body weight.|
(Australian Sports Commission, 2009)
* further information @ http://www.nrv.gov.au/nutrients/protein.htm