Good Proteins and Bad Proteins
by Laurie Lynch, ND

 People are beginning to question the adequacy and safety of our protein consumption, since meat and dairy industry advertising contradicts independent scientific research. Let's look at some protein information.

 Proteins are the building blocks that promote growth and repair, and the only food source of essential nitrogen. Protein is broken down into 20 different amino acids that are variously arranged in a chain to form different proteins. Most plants can biosynthesize all amino acids, while animals must obtain some from food. 

 Essential amino acids needed from food: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. Some other anino acids may be required in the diet if the body doesn't manufacture enough.

How much protein?                                                                                                                                  
The Recommended Daily Allowance of protein (50-63 grams) was reportedly established at twice what was determined for participants in their study. Americans consumes far more protein than any person in the study needed to sustain health. Researchers concluded that actual daily protein need is only 30-40 grams, and less if from raw vegetable proteins that are utilized twice as well.

Check nutrition labels to estimate protein intake. (1 gram per serving of fruits and vegetables, 5 per egg or handful of nuts, 10 per cup of milk, 15 per cup of beans or half-cup of cottage cheese, and 25 per 3-4 ounce of meat.).  The amount of protein on food labels only lists the complete proteins. A product may contain much higher amounts of incomplete protein. Combining such products can increase total protein.

Protein needs are influenced by age, sex, weight, pregnancy, lactation, strenuous exercise, energy intake, recovery from trauma, preparation methods, and digestibility.  Protein digestive secretions are acidic, while carbohydrate digestive juices are alkaline. A meal that combines animal protein with carbohydrates can prevent digestion of both. Therefore, you could be consuming the recommended amount of protein, but not digesting it. 

 Some types of protein are harmful, indigestible, while others are health-building:

   Bad proteins:

  •  Genetically engineered proteins used in food. or drugs are laboratory-created, chemically altered, and foreign to our bodies, and can damage our health.

  •  Animal products                                                                                                                                                   
    Excess animal  protein leaves toxic residues of metabolic wastes, uric acid, and purines in tissues; causing autotoxemia, over-acidity, nutritional deficiencies, intestinal putrification, arthritis, gout, dehydration, organ and glandular malfunctions (such as diabetes), kidney damage and/or stones, pyrrhea, schizophrenia, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, cancer, premature aging, premature death, and fatigue.
     Chemicals in animal protein are addictive, so we crave it. 

        Human beings were not created to digest animal protein. Animal protein rots in 3 hours. Humans have a 30 foot long intestine and
        cannot eliminate it before it rots, coating the intestines and preventing nutrient absorption.  Animal protein digestion requires
        hydrochloric acid and specific enzymes, and humans don't have these enzymes or sufficient hydrochloric acid. The body uses the
        HCL it has trying to digest this protein, so there isn't enough left to digest minerals and vegetable protein. Animal protein is acidic
        so calcium and phosphorus are leached from bones to neutralize the acid. It also contains genetically engineered growth hormones,
        antibiotics, antibiotic resistant marker genes, bacteria, puss, pesticide and herbicide residues, vaccines and other drugs.

        * Meat, when cooked, causes the formation of damaging free radicals.  Numerous animal studies have shown that rats fed a low
        animal protein diet "were healthier by every indication.  They lived longer, were more physically active, were slimmer and had
healthier coats at 100 weeks while the high-protein counterpart rats were all dead.  Also, animals consuming less dietary casein (a
        milk protein) not only ate more calories, but they also burned off more calories.  Low-protein animals consumed more oxygen,
        which is required for the burning of these calories, and had higher levels of a special tissue called brown adipose tissue, which is
        especially effective in burning off calories"
(T. Colin Campbell, PhD., The China Study, Benbella Books, p. 352).
 Dairy products are not digestible, and baby's cannot digest milk from other species, or even digest mother's milk after 
 developing teeth because the necessary enzymes are no longer produced. Milk contains more than 25 proteins that lead to
allergies and indigestion.       
Eggs can cause allergies, fatigue and depression. Raw egg whites destroy the B vitamin, biotin.

  •  Soy beans and isolated soy protein contain digestion inhibitors. Soy infant formulas are high in phytates which cause zinc deficiency. Aluminum in soy formula is ten times higher than milk formula, and one hundred times higher than unprocessed milk. Soy foods caused enlarged organs in test animals.  Isolated soy protein can inhibit brain development, contribute to Alzheimer's disease, and damage the pancreas and thyroid.

When I was eating animal products with every meal, I was deficient in protein and other nutrients, and developed a wide variety of  diseases.

   Good proteins are certain plant-derived proteins.  The Senate Committee on Nutrition advised consuming less meat and more grains and vegetables.. The American Dietetic Association states: "An assortment of plant foods eaten over the course of a day can provide all essential amino acids and ...adequate nitrogen." Other vegetable sources usually have all of the essential amino acids, but amounts of one or two may be low.  For example:

  •  Whole grains may be low in lysine, but high in methionine and cystine.

  •  Legumes are good sources of lysine and isoleucine, but less tryptophan, methionine and cystine.

  •  Seeds and nuts contain tryptophan, methionine and cystine, but are low in lysine.

  •  Vegetable sources of complete protein include avocados, sea vegetables, leafy green vegetables, and potatoes. "The protein of potatoes is extremely high quality, and the quantity, in terms of a percentage, is similar to that of milk"
    (Raymond Peat, PhD, 2010,from interview with Mary Shomon,

When you combine grains, legumes, nuts or seeds, you have complete protein. However, to be digestible, legumes, grains, nuts, and seeds should be soaked 7-24 hours before eating or cooking to eliminate enzyme inhibitors.

Digestible protein meal:


SPROUTS                                     BROCCOLI, chopped                                CARROT, grated

SALAD GREENS                          SALAD DRESSING, homemade                  AVOCADO sliced                                                                

     Soak lentils, sunflower seeds, alfalfa seeds in water 24 hours. Transfer to colander and rinse twice a day, for 3 days. Combine with remaining ingredients. 


1 cup RED QUINOA                                                            1 cup BLACK BEANS or GREEN LENTLES

cup ONION, minced                                                         1 small POTATO

1 tsp BRAGG'S AMINOS                                                    1/8 tsp CAYENNE PEPPER

    Bake potato at 350 degrees for 50 minutes. Bake beans, quinoa, and onion in baking dish with 4 cups water until liquid is absorbed.  Mix in food processor and refrigerate 2 hours. Form into patties; heat at med-low. Serve on whole grain bun. Serves 4-6.  High in B6, which aids protein digestion.

Protein per burger = 12 grams, which is the same as a standard size hamburger, only digestible.

Laurie Lynch is a Wellness Consultant, Naturopathic Doctor, Master Herbalist, Nutrition expert at the Living Well Health & Education Center,  (910) 426-5159.


      Copyright Laurie Lynch, N.D., 2008-2011