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Protein: Value and Danger of Various Food Components

Proteins play many important roles in the body, helping in the repair and maintenance of tissues. Plant proteins lower cholesterol and may improve the function of arteries. Proteins also make up hormones, enzymes, and neurotransmitters.

However, most Americans appear to eat too much protein. Protein cannot be stored in the body, so protein that is not used for body maintenance is converted to carbohydrate. During the process, the nitrogen-containing molecules that are left are processed by the liver into urea, which is excreted by the kidneys. Therefore, too much protein in the diet may overwork the kidneys and lead to sclerosis and reduced kidney function. High levels of protein in the diet also cause the body to lose calcium by increasing calcium excretion in the urine. Animal protein causes more calcium loss than vegetable protein.

Americans, on average, consume approximately twice the government's recommended level of protein. Even athletes do not need protein in excess of the RDA, which is 51 grams per 150 pounds of body weight. There is no evidence that protein supplements or high-protein foods are helpful in athletic training, and the old idea of the high-protein training diet has been discarded by most experts.

Recent evidence has shown that vegetarians do not need to engage in complex "protein combining" in order to receive complete protein, containing all of protein's amino acid "building blocks." This practice sometimes results in excessive protein intake.

If your diet contains animal products, it is likely that your protein intake already exceeds the RDA. Since excess protein in general, and particularly excessive animal protein, is associated with increased risk of bone loss, atherosclerosis, kidney stone formation, and impaired kidney function, it is a good idea to reduce

or eliminate animal foods from the diet.

 

 

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From THE BEST ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE: WHAT WORKS? WHAT DOES NOT? by Dr. Kenneth R. Pelletier.

 

Copyright © 2000 by Dr. Kenneth R. Pelletier, Inc.

Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc., New York, New York.

 

 


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