Updated: Jul 26
I used to be vegan and it was a ride that taught me the importance of protein!
There is a lot of talk and trend around plantpowered diets. I think a key thing here is
What protein does for us...
Our immune system - it's made of protein structures.
Do you keep getting sick?
Our muscles are made of protein.
How do you recover from physical activity? Injuries? Energy levels?
Our skin collagen is protein.
Best way to boost collagen? Eat collagen- bone broth and slow cooked fatty meats.
Our hair keratin is protein.
Common symptoms of low protein demonstrated in our hair quality: texture, amount, hydration, thickness, hair line, colour.
The precursor to hormone production is protein!!
Here we can think about the many types of hormones used throughout the body...
Important Hormones Created From Protein:
Reproductive hormones for fertility, menstruation, sexual desire and performance (versus impotence). Hormonal imbalance like fibroids, cysts, PMS, cramping, sperm/egg quality, etc. can all benefit from protein-focused diets.
Digestive hormones like insulin, that is used to regulate sugar intake into our cells to produce energy.
Growth hormones used in pregnancy and early childhood development.
Thyroid hormones used to regulate the metabolic rate in our body. Our metabolic rate determines the rate at which we create and use energy (our energy levels, the rate at which our thoughts fire and our average body weight).
Our brain neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine. These hormones determine our body's ability to feel good, happy, content, euphoric, satisfied.
That means if any of the body processes / functions mentioned above are compromised or out of balance, in your life, or someone you know, consider both the QUANTITY and the QUALITY of the protein sources consumed.
TOP PROTEIN SOURCES
Plant foods are sources of protein, however most of the time they only harbour a partial spectrum of amino acids in high levels (amino acids are the building blocks of the protein strand).
This important fact is why we have to eat 3 cups of beans to equal the same amount of protein found in 1 piece of beef, or why we pair beans with rice, or seeds with legumes to gain "a complete protein source".
The fermentation process deactivates anti-nutrients that can prevent proper mineral and amino acid digestion. Keep this in mind when buying vegan protein powders!
Another important benefit of fermented foods, they bring bacteria into the colon to ensure full protein digestion is a possibility to the body.
Some examples of delicious fermented foods: sauerkraut on the side of a meal, kombucha with a meal, yogurt garnishing a meal or sauce, fresh sprouts topping a meal.
Did you know that sea vegetables (seaweeds) were dubbed the most nutrient-dense foods on the Earth?
When we eat a sheet of seaweed we aren't gaining a whole whack of protein, however when you divide it down per gram seaweed contains even more protein than some animal foods! This is a prime example of something being a quality protein source without providing quantity.
ANIMAL VERSUS PLANT PROTEIN
It's not a matter of whether or not people eating a plantbased diet are able to get protein- its whether or not their body can deal with an increased physical load of eating more food (and fibre) to gain adequate protein.
The protein concentration in our body is commonly referred to as the nitrogen balance.
Some things that lower our nitrogen balance:
A.k.a these are times our body needs protein the most!
Pre / post physical activity
High caffeine consumption
Alcohol / drug consumption
Infected / impaired immune system
Pregnant / menstruating female reproductive systems
High stress living environment
Periods of fasting