They are the basic building blocks of the body. They maintain the body’s continuing process of reconstruction and repair to keep bones, muscles and other tissues healthy. In fact, everything, from the color of our hair to our inherited talents, is determined by the way our bodies are genetically programmed to make proteins. Proteins also make the enzymes which acts as catalysts for all the chemical reactions in the body. Some of the body’s hormones such as insulin are also proteins. Proteins in the blood also contain antibodies which are spearheading the body’s defense against the infection. We make two basic mistakes with our protein intake: we tend to eat too much of protein and too much of the wrong kind of protein.
The harmful effect of too much protein:
We eat too much protein for two main reasons. Firstly, the myth that a lot of protein especially meat makes one strong and healthy and secondly, we are now a more affluent society and can, therefore, afford to buy more meat and other high protein foods.
Here is why too much protein is detrimental to health:
1. The amino acids in excess protein are converted by the liver to fat. This process releases nitrogen, which is eventually excreted in the urine. This puts stress on the kidneys.
2. A byproduct of protein metabolism is uric acid, a toxin. Excessive protein consumption can lead to some acid getting deposited in body tissues- a common cause of arthritis.
3. A high protein diet causes reduced physical endurance for the work and sports. This has been proven by many researchers who researched on athletes found that when their protein intake was reduced by 20 percent, there was a 33 percent increase in endurance. The explanation for this is that excess uric acid has a toxic, paralyzing effect on the muscles and the nerves.
4. High protein diets may produce vitamin B deficiencies.
5. A high protein diet is a common cause of heart diseases and strokes since much of the dietary protein comes from meat with its high fat content. Studies have shown that a low protein, mainly vegetarian diet can prevent 97 percent of coronary heart disease.
6. Protein digestion requires more energy than any other food so this means that high protein diets waste energy.