Our first day of the challenge has come to a close. With all of that protein I was consuming today, I was reminded of this timely topic. I had a recipe to share today, but I still need to take a photo of it, so I will bring it to you on Monday! Meanwhile follow along on facebook as I share what I am eating for each meal.
When I was in high school, I started leaning towards eating a beefless, more vegetarian diet. Not because I had any philosophical reason for it, I just seemed to feel good when I ate that way. Later I found out that a tendency for eating a meatless diet can be one sign of adrenal fatigue (of which I had many other symptoms). Pregnancy and nursing and a better understanding of healthy food soon cured me of my meatless diet. But I still am not attracted to eating whole steaks of meat at a sitting. I crave meat if I don’t get enough of it, but I still don’t want to eat a huge portion. A few years ago I got a controversial blood testing done which supposedly showed that I was not digesting my protein well (though I was digesting fats and carbohydrates very, very well, or so the test said).
I was not at a time in my life where I could really explore the topic of digesting protein then as I was concentrating on other family members health. But since I started this challenge, and have been happily eating my way through lots of protein, the question of protein digestion reemerged for me.
For a bit of a different perspective on protein consumption, I remembered this quote from the book Primal Body, Primal Mind by Nora T. Gedgaudas (I should clarify that I disagree with many of the points in this book, but did find some very interesting thoughts and ideas). The author recommends a more moderate protein consumption.
“ Keeping protein consumption to a much more moderate level also makes digesting it far less challenging. You are more apt to easily digest and make better use of a small amount of protein at a meal, as opposed to a large slab of meat or fish in your gut that your body has to struggle with breaking down and assimilating. Many lack sufficient hydrochloric acid and pancreatic enzymes to do so; lesser amounts of protein ease the digestive burden. Protein digestion is also very energy intensive-in fact, digestion demands more energy than anything else we do-and moderating intake may improve energy levels and help minimize fatigue. Furthermore, the digestion of protein yields nitrogen by-products that the liver must process, which also burdens the elimination system somewhat. Minimizing this also helps your body’s eliminative processes function more efficiently, allowing for better detoxification, overall.” Pg210-211
Keep in mind that she advocates that you eat small amounts of everything in her diet (and no grains), yet the above rang a bell for me as I may be one of those people who have a hard time with large amounts of protein on a three meal a day basis. I realized today as I was eating all of that protein, that I ate a more moderate amount of protein when I was feeling so amazing during the testing of my book. It wasn’t always quite the amount called for by The Mood Cure. For example my breakfasts weren’t always protein rich, and I am not sure I always met the 20-30 grams of protein per meal after that- though I had close.
I do think that I often need more protein, so I was curious as to whether there was anyway to help your body digest protein. The Body Ecology had some interesting pointers.
- Eat more protein in the early afternoon when you body has more energy to digest it. (Not helpful if you are trying to eat protein at each meal).
- Eat your meat raw or medium rare so that it’s still full of enzymes (note: if you choose to eat your meat raw, please follow proper guidelines for safety)
- Take Enzymes
- Sip raw apple cider vinegar in some warm water while you eat to promote more HCI (hydrochloric acid) production .
- And then the obvious, healing your digestive system so that you can digest protein better. They also make the interesting point that if you don’t digest your protein well, you could be eating plenty of protein but still be protein deficient! This leads to other problems down the road.
Read this whole article for more information.
For myself, I think that protein digestion is something I need to work on as I want to get the full benefit of eating all of this protein! Eating nutrient rich, digestive healing homemade broths (like chicken broth), eating lots of homemade lacto-fermented foods, and using raw apple cider vinegar in salads (like I did with many recipes in my book) or even drinking some in a bit of warm water while I eat are some of the ideas that seem reasonable to try. They certainly can’t hurt! I am also curious about trying to add enzymes as a supplement, but I need to research them more first (and also see if they will fit in the budget).
Once again, it comes down to digestive health. So, if you find it hard to eat a lot of protein, you could, like me, have a harder time breaking it down, that in turn may be preventing you from experiencing the benefits of eating more protein.
What about you? Do you think that you have a hard time digesting 20-30 grams of protein at each meal?