Category Archives: Nutrition Articles

Dietary Protein – Fact or Myth

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.

EssentialNonessential **
Histidine InfantsAlanine
IsoleucineArginine*
LeucineAspartic acid
LysineCysteine*
MethionineGlutamic acid
PhenylalanineGlutamine*
ThreonineGlycine*
TryptophanProline*
ValineSerine*
Tyrosine*
Asparagine*
Selenocysteine

(*) 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.

 Table 2a

Grams of protein in animal foods vs. plant foods
Animal Proteins (100g)Grams of proteinPlant Proteins (100g)Grams of protein
Beef29-32 gramsLegumes (Chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans)6-7 grams
Chicken25-28 gramsNuts (Almonds, brazil nuts, cashews)15-20 grams
Fish18-23 gramsSeeds (Sunflower, sesame, pepitas)20-22 grams
Eggs5 grams per eggTofu8 grams
Cheese (Cheddar)25 gramsLeafy greens (Spinach, kale, rocket, lettuce, bok choi etc)1.6 – 4.3 grams

(Kale is the highest at 4.3 grams)

Yoghurt (Natural)5 gramsVegetables (Broccoli, beans, snow peas, cucumber, zucchini, peas)0.8 – 5.1 grams (Green peas are the highest at 5.1g)
Milk (Whole)3 gramsFruits (Apples, bananas, pears, kiwifruit etc)0.3 – 1.7 grams
Protein powder (Whey)80-90 gramsProtein powder (pea)82 grams

Table 2b

Daily Protein Requirements
Activity Level/Age groupGrams of protein
Low activity (sedentary) adultsMales 1g per kg                  Females 0.8-1g per kg
Light to moderate exercise – adults1.2-1.4 g per kg
Active/Teenagers1.4-1.6g per kg
Very active/Young children1.6-1.8g per kg
Weight training/Infants1.8-2.0g 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

Why Weight?

 A Naturopathic Understanding of Weight Management.

Does one size fit all? Certainly not, we are all shapes & sizes, maintaining, losing or gaining weight for very different complex reasons. Naturopathic weight management assesses a person’s whole health profile including; their physical health and nutritional intake, exercise or activity levels, as well as, psycho-emotional and spiritual health. The client’s case is then managed efficiently and gently by treatments and medicines. It is not about fad diets or quick fixes, however, a short program is possible if you need to lose a few kilos.

A Weight Management Protocol falls into my clinical theory of clients’ needs. Often their requirements are one or a combination of the following:

  1. Cleansing and detoxification
  2. Building up, repair and fortifying,
  3. Maintenance, Balancing, encouragement and Education

Assessment of weight management

 Cleansing and Detoxifying.

  • Ascertain body fat excess, stored toxic by-products or fluid.
  • Exercise or activity, pH, pain, restriction, limitation or inertia.
  • Diet summary including; food, junk, sugar or cravings.
  • Health issues and illness; understanding the client’s blood pathology, such as lipid (fats) levels, inflammation, infections or parasites.
  • Blood sugar levels; insulin resistance with excess tummy fat may indicate high blood pressure, as well as diabetes.
  • Digestive, bowel, liver and/or thyroid complaints.
  • Food intolerances. 

     Psycho-emotional problems can present themselves in the form of poor long-term dietary choices, or comfort eating. Also it is helpful to understand the concept of  carrying too much ‘baggage’ and carrying extra weight due to past trauma, abuse or pregnancies and surgery.

 B) Building up, repair and fortifying,

  • Poor diet and Nutritional deficiencies. Fatigue.
  • Malabsorption Illnesses such as; coeliac, graves disease or leaky gut.
  • Occupational, stress, social or relationship contributors.
  • Insomnia and sleep feeding.
  • Dental problems.

The Psycho-emotional problems associated with this assessment are related to body image and eating disorders, or people suffering from depression, isolation, anxiety or exhaustion.

 C) Maintenance, Balancing, Encouragement and Education,

Glandular problems and associated hormonal, peptide and neurotransmitter response, so called The  ‘Gut-brain’ association. Hormonal and life phase changes.

Genetic contribution.

Being ‘stuck’ or unmotivated for change.

Depending on client’s requirement’s Treatment options are:

Dietary requirements and changes for life, balancing macro-nutrients, protein, carbohydrates and fats, as well as micro-nutrients, vitamins and minerals.

Pharmacologically active Herbal Medicines; balancing blood and lipid levels, reduce cravings, balance Hormones, repair and assist the gut with absorption for assimilation of nutrients. Increase energy levels. Body therapies, Flower

and/or homeopathic medicines to assist with psycho- emotional or spiritual problems..

Health and vitality are the main goals in naturopathic weight management.

Understanding the acid -alkaline or pH balance in our bodies.

pH (potential of hydrogen ions) is the indicator used to measure the acidity or alkalinity of a solution. ( For instance a low pH indicates a high concentration of hydronium ions and a more acidic solution, whilst a high pH indicates a low concentration, hence the solution is more alkaline.) pH is measured on a scale of 0 to 14. When a solution, such as water,  is neither acid nor alkaline it has a pH of 7 or neutral.

The body has an acid-alkaline balance between positively charged ions (acid-forming) and negatively charged ions (alkaline-forming.) It must continually strive for balance as blood has to have an alkaline pH of about 7.4 to sustain life. Over a lifetime ‘wear and tear’ occurs from the effort the body expends to keep the blood at that pH. When this balance is compromised many problems can occur.

Acid-Alkaline Balance and Your Health

 Most people who suffer ‘acidity’ have to buffer these acids or borrow minerals including calcium, sodium, potassium and magnesium from other parts of the body including the vital organs and the bones. In western countries calcium intake is one of the highest in the world, yet paradoxically we also have one of the highest rates of bone demineralization (osteoporosis).  Bone mineral content is dependent not just upon calcium intake but upon net calcium balance (calcium intake minus calcium excretion). The calcium excretion side of the equation is extremely important.

Bone health is substantially dependent on the dietary acid/alkaline balance but other factors such as stress and trauma play their part.  After digestion all foods ultimately reach the kidneys as either acid or alkaline and when the diet yields a net acid load such as a high protein diet, the acid must be buffered by the alkaline stores in the body.

In addition to promoting bone demineralization, a net acid-producing diet also contributes to arthritis, gout, calcium kidney stones, age-related muscle wasting, hypertension, stroke and asthma. Calcium salts in the bones represent the largest store of alkaline base in the body and are depleted and eliminated in the urine when the diet produces a net acid load.

Your body is able to assimilate minerals and nutrients properly only when its pH is balanced. It is therefore possible for you to be taking healthy nutrients and yet be unable to absorb or use them. If you are not getting the results you expected from your nutritional or herbal program, look for an acid alkaline imbalance. The Paleo Diet recommends an appropriate balance of acidic and basic (alkaline) foods (i.e., lean meats, fish and seafood, fruits, and vegetables) and will not cause osteoporosis in otherwise healthy individuals but promote bone health.

The highest acid-producing foods are hard cheeses, cereal grains, salted foods, meats and legumes, whereas the only alkaline or base-producing foods are fruits and vegetables. Therefore, because the average diet is overloaded with acid-forming foods at the expense of fruit and vegetables, it produces a net acid load and thus promotes bone demineralization.  By replacing processed foods with plenty of green vegetables and fruits the body is able to come back into calcium balance. The goal is to avoid a net acid load on your kidneys

A 1995 study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association by Dr. Thomas Remer and Dr. Friedrich Manz helped determine the amount of acidity or alkalinity in dozens of different foods. They did this by determining a foods’ potential renal acid load, or PRAL, values. A positive PRAL is an acidifying food and a negative PRAL is an alkalinizing food. The further the number is from 0, the stronger its acidifying or alkalinizing effect.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7797810
http://www.direct-ms.org/pdf/NutritionGeneral/Remer%20and%20Manz%20Acid%20Base.pdf