COSTS AND BENEFITS?
There is so much controversy around protein these days, A lot of people want to know, what the benefits are of eating high protein, high fat low carb diets, at least once in a while.
First of all, there is no one diet for each person. Our nutritional needs change numerous times throughout our lives, years and months based on our age, activity, environment, the growing season and climate of the year, the season of one's life, whether we are recovering from illness or injury, our weight, ancestry, personal beliefs and desire.
That being said, let us focus on just a few of the benefits and costs of a high protein/high fat diet and when it is worth the risk.
Sometimes, eating a high protein and high fat diet, can be beneficial. (I strongly believe that it is vital that if you are consuming animal proteins that they are from the highest quality sources. Protein's are technically chains of smaller building blocks called Amino Acids. Many people believe that in order to get enough protein they MUST eat animal flesh. This is untrue. It is not hard to get all the protein you need by consuming a combination of nuts, seeds, legumes and grains, as they contain varying amounts of each of the ESSENTIAL amino acids. There are 8 essential amino acids that must be consumed by eating food as our body's cannot manufacture them. However, this article is intended to discuss the occasions when eating a larger quantity of low carbohydrate, high fat, high proteins are considered. For this discussion, protein includes complete, organic vegetarian proteins, pasture raised, organic and humanely treated animal proteins, wild caught, small fish, or in the case of soy, organic, fermented and preferably sprouted.
Included in this diet, could be organic (raw) butters, organic (raw) cheeses, organic yogurts. (Preferably from goats, as the amino acid ratio is more similar to human milk than cow.) Also, included in this diet would be a smaller percentage of low glycemic carbohydrates such as; green leafy vegetables, broccoli, asparagus; bean sprouts; beet greens; cabbage; cauliflower; celery; cucumber; endive, lettuce, radicchio, etc... and even less of the lower glycemic fruits, such as; grapefruit , cherries, plums, peaches, apples, pears, strawberries, other berries and green apple.
A high fat/ high protein diet deprives the body of more readily available energy in the form of carbohydrates that are converted to easy to burn glucose. When the body is forced to burn fat and muscle to get it's energy, then it goes into a state of Ketosis. Ketosis is a more complicated energy conversion process. It requires more energy to create energy and thereby forces the body to increase calorie consumption and fat burning.
Ketosis is the process of converting fat to energy. One of the benefits is that the by- products of ketosis, (ketones)can feed the brain more efficiently than glucose, (which is the simple sugar that our bodies convert from carbohydrates.) A ketogenic diet is often suggested to reduce seizures in Epilepsy patients. It is not clear why this diet works best, or why it uses ketones more effectively in the brain than glucose, but continual studies, as well as current effectiveness leads physicians to recommend it to seizure patients.
The process of ketosis causes fat to burn efficiently, helping to lower body fat and increase muscle mass. Body builders often use this type of diet along with their weight training to increase metabolism, maximize muscle mass and decrease body fat. This is usually done for specific purposes and goals, however and is not used as a diet over long periods of time.
If a person has been protein deficient, a high protein diet acts as water on a drought, providing nutrients that have been long needed and yet avoided due to confusing and controversial nutritional discrepancies, lack of knowledge and poverty conditions. Vitamin B-12 is a vital nutrient that is most abundantly found in animal protein. Animal protein containa all 8 essential amino acids and don't require food combining to obtain them. Animal products also contain vitamin B-12, which is more difficult to obtain in high enough quantity from the animal kingdom. Though consuming edible algae, such as dulse, raw nori, Chlorella, Blue-Green algae (aphanizomenon flos-aquae), spirulina and tempeh, provide vitamin B-12. Supplements are highly recommended for vegetarians and vegans as one of the only other sources if you are not consuming regular amounts of these alternatives.
RISKS AND CONDITIONS
Prolonged use of high protein, high fat, low carbohydrate diets, may have some serious risks. More often than not, people are consuming industrialized, highly processed, mistreated animals who are deprived of their natural habitat, forced to eat genetically modified, herbicided, fungicided, antibacterialized, genetically modified and unnatural foods. (Pardon the need for made up words here, as they serve my purpose.) Animals are commonly injected with growth hormones to hasten their harvest, increase yield and thus finance.
These animals are often quite sick because of the unnatural setting in which they were raised and require medications, usually a full life-time of antibiotics. Presently, there are no laws stating that cloned animals must be reported on the labels of the meats we buy, so we are also now subjects of the era where we are experimentally consuming cloned meats without our knowledge or consent.
Industrialized animals are packed together in warehouses, deprived of the decency of motion, cleanliness, sunshine or a moment of joy. Every drop of food, medication, and product of industrialization including the constant stream of stress hormones flooding their bodies, ends up in their flesh and mostly their fat, which we then consume and becomes the building blocks of each and every cell of our body's. For more information on these practices, read, “Diet For a New America,” by John Robbins and see the movie, “Fast Food Nation.”
HEALTHY LIVES WITH ANIMAL PROTEIN
Animal proteins have not always been factually terrible for us. There are numerous studies of indigenous tribes from around the world whose main source of nutrition was animal protein, fat, bones, hooves, organs, milk as well as warmth used by their coats, every single part used, without waste. Very little grain or vegetable or fruit was available to some of them. The overall health of these entire tribes revealed astonishingly healthy, consistent, well balanced, physical, emotional and mental wellness.
Another amazing indicator was the broad, strong, straight teeth and jaws of most all the members of the tribes with little to no dental decay or disease. These are pretty radical findings and considerations, since our American society has demonized animal protein as the main source of heart disease. For a deeper look at these studies, contact the Pottinger Price foundation. http://www.ppnf.org/catalog/ppnf/
Many of those studies also highlight the importance of consuming foods with live enzymes. Enzymes are catalysts for every function in the body and for these purposes, proper digestion. There are enzymes in foods that are raw or have not been heated over 108 degrees. When foods are cooked above 108 degrees, the enzymes are rendered inactive, leaving the body to do twice as much work as it was intended. There are a finite store of enzymes allotted to all human beings. Enzymes increase the efficacy of digestion and function exponentially. It is easier to see they're benefit, through contrast. The lack of enzymes, life and nutrition in over processed foods leave a culture of lethargic, unaware, unconscious, desensitized humans. The healthier environment that foods are produced in, the more alive they are consumed, the more life is transferred from their origin, to you.
GOOD OR BAD?
All that being said, it is hard to lump any natural food source into a black or white statement saying that it is good or bad for you. I fear that the context of the food is more important to look at than the food itself. It is our responsibility as consumers to find the best, cleanest, most natural, honest sources of protein for our consumption. If it is animal protein, then just because it is sold at one of our popular health food stores, unfortunately, does not assure it's integrity. We have to dig deeper into the farms that raise our foods and learn about the ones that have the best reputations for raising their animals naturally, and if possible, a very personal visit at best. Another great reference is the book "Omnivores Dilemma."
On the other side of the coin, prolonged ketosis, can wreck havoc on the body, taxing the liver and kidneys, leaving a person lethargic and overly acidic. Excessive fat and animal protein can cause the blood to become acidic, inviting low level virus', bacteria and fungus to sludge up the blood stream. Some lethargy may be the body adjusting to a new way of converting energy. Some symptoms may be the body feeling deprived of other nutrients and expressing its either, withdrawal symptoms of its usual faire or starvation. The process of ketosis is a type of starvation. Starving the body of it's basic fuel so that it will use back up fuel in the form of fat may be shocking if not done with care, purpose and guidance.
I believe after studying some Ayurvedic diet theory and lifestyle, the ideal time to practice eating a higher percentage of protein and fat, is during the winter when we need to pad the body with extra insulation during the cold winter months.
During the spring, nature produces roots, rhizomes, and sprouts which are natural detergents that emulsify the excess accumulated fats from the winter storage time. The springtime diet of these bright new greens, alkalizes the blood and sweeps clean the intestines. Virus’, bacteria and other low living parasites of nature do not fair well in alkaline conditions, so this yearly cleansing process is like hitting the restart button each year. It flushes out the sludge, so to speak, and prepares the soil to be clean and rich.
The summer time is the best time to switch to a higher carbohydrate diet. Nature provides plenty of fruits and vegetables, the sun is high and out longer, we use more energy and burn more energy and we can handle the higher sugar content nutrients that grow so abundantly during this season.
OMEGA 3, 6 and 9 FATTY ACIDS
A higher protein and fat diet can throw off the balance between the omega 3 fats, omega 6 fats and omega 9 fats. Omega 6 fats come mostly in the form of common refined oils such as corn, safflower, sunflower and cottonseed oils. Omega 3 and 6 fats are called EFA’s, or Essential Fatty Acids, because the body cannot produce them, so they must be consumed. The body can and does convert it’s own omega 9 fatty acids so they are not considered essential.
Omega 3 fatty acid deficiency is common amongst most of us who eat from the industrialized, processed food nation which is mostly loaded with Omega 6’s. To supplement omega 3’s one of the easiest sources is to include one tablespoon of ground flax meal, a day. It will provide your whole day's requirements of omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3’s are superior antioxidants, catching and dismantling the dangers of free radicals as they hurl through the blood stream, acting like enemy asteroids. Omega 3's are like catcher's mits to these asteroids, preventing the crash and burning of fragile cellular structures. Omega 3's also act as protectors of the blood and heart to help balance the thick, stickiness of omegas 6 and 9 when they are out of balance.
GOOD OMEGA-3 SOURCES
Ground flaxseed and hemp seeds; unrefined oils- flaxseed oil, linseed oil, walnut oil, grapeseed oil, wheat germ oil , fish oils and soybean oil (soy needs to be organic.)
Green leafy vegetables like lettuce, broccoli, kale, spinach and purslane. Legumes like mung beans, kidney, navy, pinto, lima, peas and split peas.
Citrus fruits, melons, cherries
CORTISOL AND STRESS
I believe that if we are getting enough cholesterol in our diet, we may lower our overall serum cholesterol so that our body doesn't have to create so much of it naturally. High cholesterol numbers surprise many vegetarians when they are not eating the accused culprit of high fat animal proteins.
In our modern lives filled with the rapidness of the internet, fast food, travel, instant messaging and instant gratification, stress has become a part of our daily faire. Stress causes the hormone cortisol to release into our blood streams as a form of protection. Cholesterol is the precursor to cortisol. Over production of cortisol can lead to adrenal fatigue and send our other hormones flying out of balance.
Cortisol is used in fight or flight situations, giving us a natural jolt of adrenaline to focus us on survival. It shuts off energy to our reproductive system and our digestive system so that it can draw more energy and blood into the arms and legs for a quick get away. Cortisol directs the body to store its carbohydrates as fats in the form of triglycerides and its favorite storage facility is belly fat, the most dangerous fat of all. It presses against our organs, stresses our insulin response, disallows our bodies to burn fat, throws off our blood sugar and is a leading culprit for diabetes.
If you were being chased by a bear, you wouldn’t be thinking about sex or food, so you probably wouldn’t mind the borrowed energy from those systems, but, a daily life of stress and deprivation of balance to all these systems leads to a domino effect of disease and imbalance. The more stressed we are, the more cortisol we have to produce and the more cortisol we produce, the more cholesterol we need to produce it. Hence, our stress is more dangerous to our cholesterol levels than eating moderate amounts of healthy animal proteins, if that is our choice.
Some of the best defenses we have in the area of prevention are the behaviors that cost less than pills and medical bills, but they cost our attention and change in habit and ritual. Here are a few basic suggestions for additions and subtractions to our lifestyles that can really add up.
· Meditation and yoga
· Getting to bed by 10 pm
· Drinking enough pure water
· Eating lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and legumes
· Avoid refined sugar and excessive stimulants such as caffeine, salt, processed or fried foods
· Daily exercise, (just 30 minutes a day of brisk walking can make a big difference)
· Eating lightly at night and not past 8pm.
· Reducing electronic stimulation in the evening before bed
· Doing joyful activities and taking breaks and rests from constant activity
· Massages increase oxytocin, the natural happy chemicals released in our brains, leaving us with joy and a sense of overall well being.
· Having a relationship with a higher power so that you can surrender the results of your will and relax.
QUALITY FUEL EQUALS QUALITY CELLS!
Most importantly, food is our fuel. The higher quality fuel we use, the higher quality raw materials will be building all the cells of our body's as well as influencing the thoughts that we think. If each bite we eat, and thought we think makes up the very tissues and systems of our body, then what would you like your body to be formed from?
Think naturally, think, pre-industry, think kindness and common sense.
copyright- Jo Sutton 2011
Certified holistic health coach