Protein misconception

Protein Misconception -by Nathalia Prisca

“Take as much protein as you can to be stronger and healthier” is the common protein misconception that most people, especially teenagers have. Teenager is one of many human phases which faced with many activities. In high school, teachers always tell their students that if we want to be big and strong we had better eat lots of protein. And when we work and play hard then we need even more protein. Strong and healthy body is one of the most important things that male teenagers dream to have because the world often adore one figure which fulfill those categories, especially a superhero. I am thinking of many famous superheroes such as Superman, Spiderman, and Batman which always have great body and huge muscles to defeat their enemies. Many male teenagers then resolve to grow strong and fit just like them, and even ignore their intense dislike to beef since it is a good source of protein. Some things are more important than whether they taste good or not. Moreover, most of us, naturally still believes what our teachers tell us. Therefore, this misconception is created as a result of those issues.

What surprised me in my research was that I had found out something that worth a great deal of controversy in our understanding regarding the proteins, which will support my argument of the reason that the adults are just been blinded by the protein myths that sounded so convincing. Protein which we thought as what is the most important and the more protein we consume the better for our growing body is, turns out to be giving us a false alarm. We humans actually have a limit in the basic protein needs for our body. Roger Williams, the biochemist and nutrient researcher who has probably contributed more to our understanding of biochemical individuality than any scientists alive, suggests that the range of protein needs among people may vary depending on how extreme the case is. Normal people usually need only from two up to eight percent of protein out of our daily calories. However, in some extreme cases in which this group will required much more protein intake than the normals, the spectrum can be further stretched up to 10%. Science tells us that the protein needs of the vast majority of people would be easily met within this two to ten percent range. (Williams, 1967)

Alongside with this new thinking of consuming protein just enough to meet the basic protein needs, another shocking fact is yet to be revealed – the case of osteoporosis that are often exist in almost all women that have grown old with age, is something that has got to do with the issue of excessive protein consumption. I used to believe that bones lost calcium only if there were not enough calcium in our diets, which then makes our bones to be brittle gradually in time, before cases of osteoporosis occur eventually. This is the idea that has been instilled in us for a long time even to our parents or grandparents. However, based on the modern nutritional research, it clearly indicates that there is a major flaw in this perspective. Osteoporosis is in fact a disease that is caused by a number of things, and the major one of all will be due to the excessive dietary protein.

The link between osteoporosis and excessive protein intake is actually pretty simple and direct. The more excess protein that we take, the greater the incidence of negative calcium balance meaning that the greater the loss of calcium from the bones, even with a very high intake of calcium. The result is that high protein diets in general, and meat based diets in particular, lead to a gradual but inarguable decrease in bone density, and thus produce the development of osteoporosis disease. A study on African Bantu women was carried out, and the result turned out that these women take in only 350 milligrams of calcium per day (while the National Dairy Council’s recommendation is 1200 milligrams). They bear nine children during their lifetime and breast fed them for two years. They never have calcium deficiency, seldom break a bone, rarely lose a tooth. Their children grow up nice and strong (D’Astolfo, 2002). This study showed that even if they do not consume as much calcium as what most of us do, but the result turned out to be that they are the ones that have no cases of osteoporosis, but we do. Isn’t this kind of contradicting the concept that we have so far? The reason for this is because these Bantu women as further explained are on a low protein diet that doesn’t kick the calcium out of the body, like we do.

Not only does excessive protein gives an unexpected outcome of osteoporosis, however, there is still another problem that I have researched in which can be derived from consuming too much protein, particularly animal protein (meat) – the kidney stones. Now that the calcium is lost from our bones due to excessive protein, plus the calcium that we have ingested but is not able to be absorbed due to the high phosphorus to calcium ratio, these calcium definitely have to go somewhere else while being carried by the blood. Recalling how the body normally functions, these things will all end up in the kidney, causing an accumulation of very high level of calcium in the kidney systems, at which most of the times will crystallize into kidney stones. This is why kidney stones which is the excruciatingly painful of all medical emergencies, occur far more often in meat eaters rather than in vegetarians (Robertson, Coe, 1979). Moreover, it is also been proven that the higher the protein in diet, the greater and the more severe the cases of kidney hypertrophy (meaning the enlargement in size of an organ) and inflammation. Therefore, we can see at how much stake we are putting ourselves into.

This is some links that you might want to check further ( including the statement of the person that I quoted) :

http://www.cyberparent.com/nutrition/osteoporosiscalciumprotein.htm
http://www.nih.gov/news/WordonHealth/nov2002/kidneystones.htm



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