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Some Thoughts About Protein

One of the most interesting “perhaps facts” about protein is the belief among some researchers that the human brain evolved into its present larger and intricately developed size due to the tendency of “proto-humans” to eat protein-rich foods, especially fish. Presently, my research in diverse fields including weight management, thyroid health, and adrenal fatigue are also pointing to the importance of adequate healthy (meaning uncontaminated, not over-cooked, and from sources that are as organic as possible) protein in our diets, especially for breakfast. This has a large bearing upon gene expression as well, since what we eat is one of the 3 major ways (the other 2 are toxin avoidance/release and stress reduction) we can either adversely or beneficially affect how the  DNA cards we were dealt at birth play out.

The more I do research, the more I realize that in ANY field, including alternative health/herbs/nutrition, the “experts” (whether defined by letters after their names and/or experience in the field) DO NOT AGREE with each other on a regular basis. Unfortunately there is much internecine fighting around just about any topic you can name in this vast area of human understanding….and that goes double for how much and what kind of protein. And many of the so-called gold standard studies are not as comprehensive, well designed, or factual as we’ve been led to believe….sigh.

Given all the disagreement and conflicting theories, how does one navigate this nutritional minefield? I am finding that where several “authorities” from a diverse cross-section agree, there might be some valuable info. Add to this the actual clinical experience of folks with degrees, and we start to see some patterns, like the one I mentioned above about adequate protein for breakfast. The trick here is to define “adequate.” Women probably need from 46 to 90 grams a day, and men need from 56 to over a 100 grams per day. The amount varies due to age, size, type of work done, energy expenditure, metabolic type, constitution, and probably a few more arcane indicators, not to mention the belief system of the person or group advocating a number along this spectrum! What I find really telling in this is the tendency of folks to “err” at the extremes: either they eat fast food burgers with enough protein for an entire day in one meal, or they barely eat enough to prevent deficiency disease. There have been some studies done that show that as we age, we often neglect our protein intake. When this is due to poverty, that is a tragedy. When not eating enough protein is due to the influence of  experts who were wrong, or because we, over time, got comfortable with the overconsumption of carbohydrates….well, that too is a tragedy.