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Why a High-Protein Diet Won’t Make You Healthier

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Due to the insistence of conventional health communities that fats and cholesterol should be avoided, high-protein diets have been all the rage for a number of years.

The Atkins Diet was popular for many years and received much press and attention since it came out in the late 1950s. Many people claimed to lose a lot of weight on this diet. Depending on who you asked, this diet was heralded by some as a low-fat diet, high-protein diet and by others as a high fat diet.

This quote by Dr. Atkins himself describes the diet:

“Those of you who read my first book, Dr. Atkins’ Diet Revolution, know what diet to follow — there was only one. Millions of dieters simply called it the Atkins Diet. It was a very low carbohydrate reducing diet (not a high-fat diet, as many of my nonreading critics asserted).”

The South Beach Diet came out during the 2000s and it affected more dieters than just about any diet during that decade. The major flaw with most of these types of diets was they didn’t emphasize something of great importance: healthy fats – which are so critical for health. As a result, many people who followed the Atkins Diet gained the weight back after losing it.

It may seem counter-intuitive that eating fat and cholesterol can be good for health, but this myth about fat and cholesterol being bad for us has no grounded science behind it.

You can see clear evidence of bad science being used everywhere. A good example is the USDA Dietary Guideline recommendations such as MyPlate, featuring a diagram of 5 food groups: fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and dairy. But fat is nowhere to be found.

And yet, fat is one of the most critical foods we could eat for health since it’s one of our best sources of Vitamins A, D, E, and K2 – essential fat soluble vitamins, Omega 3s, CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), and other important nutrients like folate, B12, iron, and zinc.

Fat and cholesterol are essential for a wide range of bodily functions:

  • Necessary for the production of hormones in the body.
  • Brain and nervous system function (a majority of our brains are composed of fat)
  • The foundation of cell integrity
  • Digestion and normalization of blood sugar levels
  • Regulation of body temperature
  • Protecting internal organs from damage
  • Providing energy
  • Maintaining proper weight and metabolism levels

Dr. Weston A. Price learned in his world travels by visiting 14 various countries that all healthy populations who were free of disease consumed much more of these nutrients from animal foods – sometimes up to TEN times the amount we currently consume in our modern culture.

Truth be told, avoiding fat and cholesterol is disastrous for health.  A number of medical doctors are now admitting this openly to the public.

When you stop and think about our modern health guidelines which recommend avoiding fat – have these really helped our population become healthier or lose weight? Not at all. According to recent reports, in fact, we are continuing to get fatter and sicker with each passing year.

What’s wrong with lean meats?

Lean meats are very hard-to-digest. Since they lack fat-soluble vitamins such as A and D, they end up becoming putrified in our digestive systems and cause chronic pathogenic bacteria in our guts which spreads to all parts of our bodies. This leads to many other health issues including weight problems, auto-immune disease, food allergies, bone and joint issues, and others.

Even a lot of grassfed meats tend to be short on fat.  If you are coming off a low-fat diet you will probably need some help getting your digestion back in order to be able to handle fats. Starting out slowly with well-cooked meats, poultry, fish, and other animal fats in broths and soups, with vegetables and plenty of healthy fats like butter or ghee, lard, or tallow. These are very healing and can help you to be able to to properly digest your food.

So eat your meats with plenty of fat:

  • olive oil
  • butter
  • ghee
  • coconut oil
  • fat drippings from lard (pork fat), schmaltz (chicken fat) or tallow (beef fat or suet)

and also with gelatin-rich broths or cooked in broth made from the bones of animals and birds on pasture.

The GAPS protocol by Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride may be a good healing and detox if you have digestive issues and want to heal so you can properly digest foods again. You may also need digestive enzymes or hydrochloric acid. The best brand of enzymes I’ve found is Enzyme Formulations, and you need a practitioner to obtain them. Houston Enzymes are also a quality product that I’ve heard many good things about from clients and others. They have customer support to help you determine which are right for you.

What’s wrong with protein powders?

Protein powders are a popular food product that many people buy because they don’t have time to prepare something real. Slick marketing and labeling has convinced consumers these are healthy products to consume. But, these powders are processed through high heat temperatures which denatures the protein. Processing actually turns those substances into something harmful – a free-glutamate (think MSG).

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Plus, protein powders almost always contain a bunch of synthetic nutrients, stabilizers, preservatives, and other things you can’t even pronounce or comprehend what they are. Even the supposedly high-quality whey protein powders that are healthy, containing organic grassfed whey from healthy cows, like this one – Whole Whey Natural from Metaorganics

  • Whey protein concentrate from grassfed cows’ raw milk (pesticide free, no added hormones)
  • Fibersol (what?)
  • Arabinogalactin extract (what?)
  • Nonfat milk powder (no thanks, I’ll take real full fats that aren’t oxidized)
  • Lecithin (soy, no thanks)
  • Medium chain triglycerides (which you can get from real coconut oil)
  • Natural flavors (MSG)
  • Guar gum (MSG)
  • Lohan (what the heck is that?)

Okay, whole whey protein from grass fed cows’ milk, that’s the only thing I’d even consider consuming on this list.    But I could get that from having a smoothie with yogurt and kefir in it, or drinking a glass of milk, or eating some cheese.

Even if you knew what the other ingredients were, do you need to be consuming them? Probably not. So everything else? I’d avoid like the plague and just eat real food.

This product is a great example of how just because something is labeled organic or even grassfed, does not make it healthy to consume.

But aren’t plant protein powders better?

There are other protein powder products not sourced from animals using proteins from plants, grains, and seeds. No matter how the labels might describe them as being low-temperature processed or non-denatured, these products are still as unnatural as can be, and we should not rely on grains or plants in those amounts as a good source of protein. Our ancestors never did this. Again, there is no fat present in these products as the proteins are isolated and compounded many times above what would occur in nature.

Vegetables, grains, seeds, and legumes contain phytic acid – an anti-nutrient that can leach minerals from the stores in your body – usually the bones. To neutralize these components, sprouting/soaking, fermentation, cooking, and serving with healthy fats is required. When those techniques are applied, your body can use the nutrients in those foods. But eating in raw form, or in the case of grains simply cooked, or highly processed and compounded many times as protein powders is not a smart way to consume these foods.

You’re better off eating a nice pile of chopped up broccoli and carrots, cooked in a pan with butter, salt, garlic, and some seasoning than you are to consume plant protein powders. You’ll absorb the nutrients in the plants better since you’ll be eating it with a wonderful, healthy fat with fat-soluble vitamins (A&D), and it will actually taste good.

Protein and fat work together

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with protein – provided it’s a natural source of protein and it’s also accompanied by some type of natural fat such as in meats or animal products. Even some other foods such as grains, vegetables, legumes, and nuts contain a small amount of protein (although not much except for in the case of nuts). But the point is, those foods with small amounts of protein don’t have much naturally-occurring fat.

That’s why it’s important to traditionally prepare grains, seeds, legumes, and vegetables – either through fermentation or soaking/sprouting and/or cooking to neutralize phytic acid, and eat with healthy animal fats. Those fat-soluble nutrients help us to absorb the nutrients in those foods.

The lack of fat in high-protein foods like industrially-produced lean meats and processed foods like protein powders is a problem because they lack vital, fat-soluble nutrients. In this case, Vitamin A.  The body stores Vitamin A in the liver. If you keep eating high-protein foods with no fat, you will soon deplete Vitamin A stores in the body.  This leads to many chronic issues including:

  • bone issues and osteoporosis from loss of calcium
  • Heart or kidney disease
  • Thyroid and hormonal imbalances
  • Auto-immune disease such as fibroymyalgia (chronic fatigue) or more serious issues including diabetes

All of these issues sum up much of what is wrong with our population’s modern health profile – some of the most common diseases people have, and they are on the increase. As a coincidence, many people avoid fat, count calories, and cling to nutrient-deficient diets.  Quite an interesting connection, isn’t it?

What’s wrong with modern diets?

The Standard American Diet is sorely depleted of nutrient-dense foods. Besides chemicals and toxins in our diets from processed foods that make up so much of what we eat, three ingredients that have remained a constant in our everyday eating habits are white flour, sugar, and vegetable oils.

Dr. Weston A. Price discovered that fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K2 were present in the diets of healthy populations he studied all over the world. Modern diets are lacking in these nutrients, including Vitamin A, a nutrient we can get from foods such as cod liver oil, liver, butter, cream, fish, and fish eggs.

We have an abundance of lean protein foods in our diets because conventional medical information tells us to eliminate fat and cholesterol. Lean meats are NOT natural in any sense of the word, and the majority of them are produced on CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations) where animals do not receive a natural diet nor live in a natural environment. This makes the meat and fat content of these foods off-balance and not healthy for our bodies. For example, due to the way they are produced, CAFO meats are too high in Omega 6s, and the ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3s is about 15:1 or wider. Grassfed meats are the correct balance at approximately 3:1.

For thousands and thousands of years, healthy meat and poultry was eaten by people around the world with fat, skin, bones, and everything else that goes with animal foods. Those were not separated out, they were considered essential and necessary for maintaining good health.

Instead of processed foods or protein powders that have isolated, high amounts of denatured protein and lack other important co-factors and nutrients, eat healthy foods with saturated fats and real nutrients like egg yolks from pastured hens, raw yogurt, milk, or other dairy food, coconut oil, mashed up avocadoes to soups, broths, stews, and or smoothies. Eat fatty cuts of grassfed meats, pork, lamb, poultry and game meats with plenty of butter, olive oil, or other animal fat and with or cooked in bone broths. Cook your vegetables and braise your meats in butter, lard, tallow, or ghee. For desert, have a big bowl of home-made full-fat raw yogurt with fruit, nuts, and cinnamon.

Here’s a recipe for home-made whey on the Radiant Life site, which is an excellent natural source of real protein. You can also easily make a home-made protein powder such as the recipe featured in Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon.

These foods are delicious and good for you, and will bring back flavor to the bland, boring processed foods you’ve been eating that aren’t healthy. Instead of high-protein and low-fat, make your meals high-protein and high fat too.

Want more information?

The importance of dietary fats

What’s the real scoop on red meat and higher mortality rates?

Which is better for your health – polyunsaturated or saturated fats?

Dr. Sinatra and others speaking out – cholesterol is not the cause of heart disease

Healthy Living Healthy Meat Real Food Toxin Alert!

In the Face of the Feed Crisis, Beef Expert Claims Ruminants Can Digest “Anything”

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Yesterday as I was driving home from taking my son to school, a report on NPR about the issues with the rising cost of feeding commercial cattle in today’s wavering economic market made my blood boil.

What I heard made me realize the issues we are having with GMOs in our food supply are compounding due to the fact that the industry which relies almost solely on corn, grain, and soy to feed cattle will stop at nothing to cut costs and convince the public at the same time that these methods and activities are not only safe but necessary to “feed the world”.

It also made me realize the  industrial food industry will also stop at nothing to reassure the public that their far-fetched and wholly unsafe practices are not only just fine but somehow “better for the environment”… including, telling lie upon ludicrous lie to get it done with false science and bad political maneuvering.

“Alternatives” to corn, soy, and grain

The discussion went into how droughts and wildfires, which have ravaged range lands this season, are forcing farmers to look for more “efficient ways” to feed their cattle. According to the report, beef scientist Tim DelCurto from Oregon State University has alternatives for ranchers and feedlot owners that provide lower cost feed now that corn and soy prices are skyrocketing. These include:

“Grass seed straw, distillers grains leftover from ethanol production, cannery waste and potato processing byproducts such as misshapen green beans, carrots and even French fries.”

DelCurto believes that ruminants can easily adapt to other feed and it doesn’t affect their health. He said, “I think one of the unique attributes of beef cattle, and sheep fit this too, unique attributes of ruminant animals is that they can digest virtually anything.”

This month, DelCurto will speak at several University of Idaho Extension classes where he will be sharing these “cost saving tips” with cattle ranchers.

It is this twisted way of thinking which has ushered in the predominance of antibiotic and hormone use in commercial cattle farming today, which has greatly contributed to inflammatory disease in both cattle and humans, including digestive, endocrine, and auto-immune disorders, antibiotic resistance, and super bug bacteria which can’t be managed by normal medical care.

It is beyond shameful that we are allowing our universities to be used to support big agriculture’s agendas, which for decades have had negative consequences for our food system, health, and environment.

Other news reports have been flooding the wires over the couple of weeks about the use of even more unsavory substances for feeding cattle as a way to counter the effects of rising feed costs:

“cookies, gummy worms, marshmallows, fruit loops, orange peels, even dried cranberries”

These substances are being used as alternatives to the starchy corn, soy, and grain feeds used by conventional farming facilities to put weight on cattle. All of these alternatives to soy, corn, and grain are highly processed and many are by-products of the commercial farming, food, and chemical industries…and many of these contain GMOs as well. Really? Cookies and gummy worms?

It should go without saying, but these “experts” and “scientists” have it all wrong.  It’s absolutely unthinkable that anyone calling themselves a caretaker of the environment or steward of the land would even suggest the preposterous notion of feeding cattle these kinds of substances is acceptable. Does it really seem reasonable that animals being slaughtered for meat should be fed these substances? And if they are allowed to consume them, what affect might that have on their health, and our health when we eat the meat from these animals?  Our ancestors would have never agreed to this practice.

These measures used by the food industry are not about taking care of the health and well-being of anything or anyone involved, they are about profits.

The GMO factor

Corn, soy, and grains are not healthy feed for cattle, which are ruminants and are intended to graze on green grass.  Even without the GM component, these feeds cause health problems for animals consuming them. Cattle who eat this kind of feed develop acidity in the digestive tract, and because cattle become vulnerable to disease and sickness, farmers administrate antibiotics.

A recent study showing the results of a life-time of feeding  rats a certain type of genetically engineered corn common in the U.S. food supply looks even more unfavorable. These findings were published in the peer-reviewed journal, Food and Chemical Toxicology, and showed the development of massive tumors in the bodies of rats and also included liver and kidney damage, and premature death. There have been over 30 additional studies showing the presence of toxic or allergic reactions in animals consuming GE foods.

It may seem like if these issues were such a threat, you’d see people dying of premature death everywhere. But consider that rats don’t live very long, their life span is at most 3-4 years. Human life spans are much longer, the average being about 75. The fact is, many people are experiencing chronic health issues that have not been seen before on the scale that degenerative disease is occurring, but are being allowed to continue living through the intervention of drugs, surgeries, and other medical procedures. Genetic engineering is a relatively new development, but GMOs have been in our food supply now since 1996.  The long-term effects of consuming GE foods simply aren’t known yet.

Meanwhile, Monsanto and other seed companies are working night and day trying to get more GM crops approved. Mounting evidence is showing that GE crops are failing to live up to the hype that has been propagated about their “benefits”.

Informed scientists such as Dr. Donald Huber have spoken and written about the dire consequences of chemical-based monoculture crops which degenerate soil integrity. His research shows that GE crops cause even more harm to the soil than conventional farming. GE farming uses the application of broad-spectrum herbicides on the genetically engineered mono-crops, resulting in herbicide-resistant super-weeds.  These plants are just about impossible to destroy. Ronnie Cummins from The Organic Consumer’s Association stated: “Scientists estimate that herbicide-resistant crops planted around the globe will triple the amount of toxic broad-spectrum herbicides used in agriculture”.

It should be easy to see the failure of this chemical system in the destruction of vital soil for supporting life, the lack of diversity in continued monoculture crops, the loss of heirloom and indigenous seeds that have been traditionally saved and planted in successive seasons, and the massive debt piled upon tens of thousands of farmers who use these programs to grow their crops and support their families (and who are beholden to Monsanto and other seed companies due to strict contracts they sign).

The fact is, many countries such as Haiti and others have been bullied by Monsanto and other seed companies into using their seeds for farming. In 2010, Haiti rejected the seeds and burned them. In 2011, GM maize was ploughed under in Hungary, according to Ministry of Rural Development Lajos Bognar. It also happened in Zambia as well. All of these countries have food shortages, but also have serious doubts about the safety of GM seeds.

What’s the alternative?

Joel Salatin, grassfed beef farmer in Swope, VA has explained the virtues of grassfeeding ruminant animals, and pasture-raising other livestock such as pigs. Instead of mass-scale factory farming that pollutes the environment, soil, water, and harms human and animal health, he advocates for smaller-scale farming that utilizes nature to support the ecosystem of the farm. Salatin’s 100 acre organic spread thrives on the symbiotic relationship between the grazing cattle and roaming chickens to provide nourishment to the land and themselves. This type of farming can and does quite well without hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, and GMOs.

Stanley Fishman of Tender Grassfed Meat has an excellent post describing how properly managed grassfed farms can produce healthy meat for people to eat.  Not only can the farms thrive, they can help with water supply issues which are becoming an increasing excuse for chemical and seed companies to engineer toxic alternatives to traditional farming.

“The world’s water supply can be greatly increased by increasing the number of grazing animals, and having them follow proper grazing practices. Not only will this greatly increase the water supply, but it will result in the creation of great amounts of new soil suitable for growing crops, and increase the size and richness of grasslands, allowing even more herds to graze. And the grassfed meat made available by following this path will provide the food that is far more nutrient-dense and nourishing than a plant-only diet.”

There are also other farmers who are finding ways to keep their stock on range lands and grazing, while preserving the ecology, as nature intended. In southeast Oregon, ranchers are embracing the natural landscapes and allowing their cattle to roam on desert areas, eating high-desert grasses.

In Simon Fairlie’s book, Meat: A Benign Extravagence, he devotes a considerable amount of discussion about small-scale, holistic meat farming and how we can continue to feed the growing populations of the world. This book so succinctly and profoundly lays out the methods and mechanisms by which we should undertake humane and smaller-scale meat production, George Monbiot, environmental activist and vegan, regarded this book as a life-changing read and discarded his support for veganism after reading it.

What can you do?

Supporting our local, grassfed meat farmers which contribute positively to the ecosystem and local economies instead of GMO and commercial farming is imperative. If we don’t abandon these toxic, modern systems of food production, we will wipe out our fertile soil and ability to produce food for the future.

  • Be aware of the fact that 90 percent or more of foods you buy at the store probably contain GMOs. Read labels and avoid these products as best you can. Avoid buying grocery store meats from unhealthy animals, which are full of antibiotics, hormones, and residue from pesticides, GMOs, and other toxic chemicals.
  • Get involved in local efforts in your home state to institute labeling on GMO foods.
  • Educate others by spreading the word!

More information:

Health benefits, grassfed meat, Eat Wild

The grassfed beef challenge: Busting myths about meat - read about the great health benefits of grassfed meats and why the myths about meat being harmful to eat are untrue

Grassfed Cattle, Not Junkfed Cattle

10 reasons to avoid GMOs

Learn how GMOs affect our health

Support the California Right to Know campaign and get involved in your state and local area to label GMOs and boycott GMO foods

4 ways to avoid GMOs in the foods you buy

Photo credit: TheInternational.org