Optimistic Vegan

More About Protein
December 8, 2010, 2:20 pm
Filed under: Food, Lifestyle, Nutrition | Tags: , , , , ,

I discussed protein on a very basic level in a different blog post, Where do you get your protein?! which I suggest looking at first to get a good basis.

Essentially, protein is made up of amino acids. There are 22 amino acids and 8 of them need to be eaten (your body makes the other 14). Everything you eat is made up of amino acids. Carrots, spinach, pineapple, wheat, etc. Everything. The most common question vegetarians are asked is where they get their protein. Unfortunately, in our society, meat is equated with protein. I’m here to tell you that it is perfectly possible to get all of the protein you need just by eating a whole foods, plant based diet.

I just finished reading The China Study by Dr. T. Colin Campbell and his son Thomas M. Campbell, and it reiterated over and over that the best diet for your health is a whole foods, plant based diet. My favorite aspect of this book is that it was written by a man who grew up as a farm boy believing in the “all American diet.” It was only through the research he did and evidence that he found that made him change his lifestyle and encourage others to do the same. Let me tell you, the results he found are astounding. He was able to show the distinct relationship between animal products and increased chances of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer, autoimmune diseases and various bone, kidney, eye and brain diseases. If that isn’t enough evidence to convince someone that animal products are not the ideal diet, I don’t think anything could.

The book is called The China Study because he had the opportunity to do a massive comprehensive study on 65 rural Chinese counties. It worked particularly well in China because the people tend to be genetically similar and live in the same area for their entire lives. The results are astounding. (Read it!)

A large portion of his research was dedicated to protein. I’m going to give a brief overview of some of the things he discovered, but definitely read the book to get a more thorough picture. In his research about the way that protein affects cancer growth he discovered that the amount of protein in a diet directly affects how fast the cancer progresses. He was able to show that “a low-protein diet could override the cancer-causing effect of a very powerful carcinogen, aflatoxin” (Campbell 59). However, not all protein can have this effect on cancer growth. It turns out that casein (a milk protein) has the opposite effect than plant proteins do. Casein, in relation to plant proteins, speeds up the growth of cancer. He did an experiment involving rats that lasted 100 weeks to discover the affect of protein on cancer growth. All of the rats were fed the same level of the cancer carcinogen, aflatoxin, but some were fed the regular 20% level of casein (what average Americans eat in their diet), and then to others he fed a low-protein diet of 5% casein diet. At the end of the study almost all of the rats fed the 20% protein diet were dead from liver tumors but all of the animals administered the low-protein diet were “alive, active and thrifty, with sleek hair coats” (Campbell 61). This is astounding. A low-protein diet has the ability to slow or halt cancer growth.

I might blog more about the book later, but I don’t want to make this post too long! I just wanted to bring up the idea that protein isn’t as great as we are told it is.

Here it is!