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Is Meat Really The Best Way To Get Protein?

First of all let’s define a Protein. According to Medical News Today, “Proteins are large molecules consisting of amino acids, which our bodies and cells need to function properly. Our body structure, the regulation of our body’s cells, tissues and organs cannot exist without proteins. Proteins along with fats and carbohydrates are essential energy sources for the human body.  Protein accounts for 20% of total body weight. Each cell has thousands of different proteins, which together make the cell do its job. Think of them as tiny machines within a cell.”

Amino acids can be divided into 3 categories: Essential (a.a.), which cannot be made by the body, Non-essential (a.a.) which are made by the body from essential amino acids and Conditional (a.a.) which are usually not essential, except in times of illness or stress. There are a total of 20 amino acids. Essential amino acids can be gotten from food.  An abundance of them can be found in fruits and veggies.

Animal protein is considered to be a more “complete” protein because they come as a more complete amino acid package closely resembling the amino acid profile that our bodies use.  The best animal protein sources are fish, chicken or turkey.  These foods do not have the same fat content as beef.  Animal protein can be extremely high in cholesterol and saturated fat, which is a risk for heart disease.

Many toxins reside in meat, which is found in the animal’s organs. Organic lean free-range meat and wild caught fish are better choices. The free-range meat is free of hormones and pesticides. They are grass fed and graze on the land. Farm raised fish have been injected with artificial coloring and have a higher level of fat.

The recommended daily dose of protein depends on your body weight and your activity level. The average person in this country takes in a lot more animal protein than necessary.

Proteins from plant sources include nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, fruits and veggies. They can contain as much protein as meat but still lack key amino acids. So we must be conscientious eaters to get all of them by eating a varied plant based diet or supplementation.

Things to ponder: Am I chewing my food adequately? 20-25 times may be adequate for a plant-based diet but what about animal protein? Digestion of your food is really important. The enzymes in your saliva assist in digestion and your body uses a lot of energy in the digestive process. Therefore chewing your food adequately aids in getting more nutrients in your body from the food.  Are you still enjoying the taste of the food? How do your jaws feel? Are you still able to identify what you are eating?