Protein is essential for building, maintenance, and repair of tissues in the body. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. There are 20 different amino acids, but our body can only make 11 of them. The nine essential amino acids, which cannot be produced by the body, must be obtained from food.
Protein from plant sources was given a bad rap in a popular 1971 book, In it, the author stated that plant foods are deficient in some of the essential amino acids, so in order to be a healthy vegetarian, you needed to eat a combination of certain plant foods at the same time in order to get all of the essential amino acids in the right amounts. This is called the theory of “protein complementing.” We now know that intentional combining is not necessary to obtain all of the essential amino acids. As long as the diet contains a variety of grains, legumes, and vegetables, protein needs are easily met.
The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein for the average adult is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. So, to calculate out your average individual need, perform the following calculation: Body weight (in pounds) x 0.36 = recommended protein intake (in grams). This value has a large margin of safety, and the body’s true need may be lower for most people. Protein needs are increased for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. In addition, needs are also higher for very active persons.
High-protein diets have been greatly publicized over recent years. However, these diets are supported by little scientific research and can actually contribute to disease and other health problems including: Osteoporosis, cancer, impaired kidney function, and heart disease. Would you like to learn more about making a whole food plant based diet a part of your lifestyle, call us at (502)365-4545 and make an appointment.