Adequate protein is important for everyone, but especially for those who exercise rigorously. Too much however, or too much without certain critical nutrients can lead to a host of problems. Protein (especially collagen protein) is used for building and repairing muscles and tissues, red blood cells, hair and fingernails and for synthesizing hormones. Protein reduces the risk of iron deficiency anemia and supports healing.
The question is, should athletes and others imbibe these protein products in beverages, shakes and bars? Products that have removed the natural fats (and are often denatured and often produced with dyes and other additives as well as using caustic ammonias and extreme heat). Perhaps the habits of traditional healthy peoples can give us a clue.
A lesson learned from traditional cultures is to always eat our meat with fat—traditional peoples (those who ate what was naturally available from the land or sea, not the supermarket😉) knew that a diet of lean meat would make them sick. The reason, eating meat and protein powders without the healthy fat results in rapid depletion of vitamin A. Vitamin A is needed to assimilate protein.
From the article, “Vitamin A, The Forgotten Bodybuilding Nutrient” (Wise Traditions, Fall 2004), “The utilization of protein requires vitamin A. Several animal studies have shown that liver reserves of vitamin A are depleted by a high dietary intake of protein. One explanation for this is that adequate protein is necessary for vitamin A transport.
Research shows a diet deficient in vitamin A results in a lower rate of protein synthesis. As explained by the nutrition and naturopathic Weston A Price organisation, "eating lean meat or taking a protein powder sends a signal to the liver: 'Send me vitamin A!' Protein consumed in the absence of fat, with its precious cargo of fat-soluble vitamins, including vitamin A, is an effective way of rapidly depleting your liver of vitamin A stores."
So what should you do to ensure you have adequate protein synthesis? Consume healthy fats. Organ meats are rich sources of the fat-soluble vitamins A, D and K2 minerals and vitamins B6 and B12. Make sure your meats and eggs are pastured or free range and absolutely grass-fed. Grass-fed meats have shown to be measurably lower (or devoid) in contaminants such as herbicides/pesticides and higher in nutrition including essential fatty acids and a new favourite of the weight loss and weight-lifting supplements, conjugated linoleic acid (but it its natural and most bio-available form).
- grass-fed bone broth -slow cooked to ensure marrow content (which provides a high level of essential fatty acids, fat-soluble vitamins, collagen protein . . . ) Best of the Bone is one of the highest in marrow and healthy fats.
- Soups/stews using skin, fat and bones, e.g., Pho, bone broth-based soups, chicken noodle soups with the dark meat and fats.
- Poultry - with the skin (but washed thoroughly)
- Pork – properly prepared by curing or marinating
- Grass-fed red meat - always with the fat
- Grass-fed dairy such as butter and preferably raw for maximum nutritional value.
- Eggs, always with the yolks
- Wild seafood (this can be a worry as mercury levels are higher in larger fish)
We don't want to be deficient in Vitamin A - it is key not only for protein synthesis, but also for hormone production (including hormones like testosterone, and thyroid hormone); vitamin A is also key to immune system function, critical for healthy vision and hearing, plays a role in bone health, and works in tandem with vitamins D and K2 for everything from the prevention of heart disease to the production of feel-good chemicals. A diet relying on lean meat or protein powders for your protein needs without proper healthy fats and vitamin A can result in hormone disruption, fatigue, depression, bone problems, auto-immune disease, vision and hearing problems, heart disease and even cancer.
One simple way to consume the healthiest proteins and to absorb and synthesise that protein is with a healthy, slow-cooked bone broth. The healthiest fats from marrow bone and full of critical bone, skin and muscle health amino acids.
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