Chemistry Holistic Health Tip for April: The Importance of Protein

By Janice Buckler, BSc, RHN

Did you know that every tissue in the body is made from protein? Without it, the body cannot make hormones, enzymes or antibodies (which could cause the immune system to suffer). Protein is necessary to regulate fluid pressures and the proper alkalinity of the blood.

 If someone is eating ample amounts of protein, but still exhibiting deficiency symptoms, it is most likely due to faulty digestion, e.g., insufficient production of hydrochloric acid (HCl) in the stomach. There are several symptoms that can be caused by a protein deficiency, some of which include fluid retention, high susceptibility to colds/flu, depression, hair loss, cataracts, and poor co-ordination, just to name a few. I would strongly suggest that anyone showing symptoms of a protein deficiency needs to either increase their protein intake or increase their body’s ability to utilize it, and in most cases both are needed. If supplementation is needed to increase the body’s ability to utilize your protein intake a digestive enzyme containing “betaine HCl” may be necessary.

There is no substitute for protein for your body, and the safest approach is to error slightly on the side of too much. The most concentrated sources of protein are animal-based foods like eggs, yogurt, fish and poultry. Plant sources are not as concentrated and need to be combined properly to yield the high-quality protein our bodies need every day. For instance, legumes must be combined with nuts, grains or seeds at every meal. Some examples are brown beans + rice, lentils + rice, tofu + noodles, soy milk + oatmeal, peas + barley soup, chickpeas + sesame seeds, refried beans + tortilla, or peas + corn.

 Protein supplements are expensive, so the most cost effective way to get protein is from food; however, athletes or people recovering from an illness may benefit from such supplementation. The most efficient supplementary source of protein is hydrolyzed lactalbumin  (hydrolyzed meaning “pre-digested” ;). This should be combined with an indigestible fiber like psyllium, because pure protein can be constipating.

If you are having any symptoms of protein deficiency or just want to find out if your body is getting enough protein, I would recommend a holistic nutritional health assessment so that you have the facts and can work with a Registered Holistic Nutritionist towards a solutions and healthier living.