Alternative and Highly Bioavailable Sources of Protein
There is so much conflicting nutrition information out there that sometimes it helps to get back to the basics.
One of these basics is protein, a macronutrient. The body requires macronutrients in large amounts (other macronutrients are carbohydrates and fats).
A bunch of these little components called amino acids make a protein molecule. There are 22 amino acids and proteins are made of different combinations of the 22.
There are essential amino acids, conditionally essential and non-essential amino acids. “Essential” means that we must obtain them from an outside source. Your own body creates the non-essential amino acids. Sometimes our bodies don’t do a great job of creating them which is why there are also conditionally essential amino acids.
Amino acids (what makes up a protein) build the body’s enzymes, hormones, and tissues . Individual amino acids act like messengers in the body – telling the different body parts what to do (i.e. release this hormone, create that enzyme, etc.).
Just for your knowledge…
Histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine are the names of the essential amino acids.
Arginine, carnitine, citruline, cysteine, glutamine, glycine, ornithine, proline, taurine, and tyrosine are the conditionally essential amino acids
Alanine, asparagine, aspartic acid, glutamic acid, homocysteine, and serine are the non-essential amino acids.
What we are looking for when we want protein are foods that are abundant in a large variety of amino acids. The grams of protein/amino acids you consume are not as important as much as the variety of amino acids (especially the essential ones) that your body is absorbing and using.
Almost all animal foods “supposedly” contain all 8 essential amino acids. The problem with this blanket statement is that a conventional factory farm piece of meat is treated with antibiotics, hormones and fed unhealthy cattle feed. In the processing manufacturers pump the meat full of dyes, preservatives and fillers. So we don’t really know how many amino acids are destroyed in that process. Also, cooking destroys some of the amino acids in meat and meat products need to be cooked for the most part (maybe this is why some people crave their steaks rare – myself included).
The important point in buying animal meats is to buy the absolute highest quality meats, preferably wild game or fish, or grass-fed organic poultry or beef. This ensures that the amino acid content of the protein is quite high and more bio-available.
Eggs are a great and bioavailable source of all 8 essential amino acids. Most other protein foods are compared against eggs.
Conventional vegan sources of protein (rice, beans, legumes, etc.) do not contain all 8 essential amino acids. When we eat these foods for their protein, it’s necessary to eat a lot of them. It’s also required that we combine different vegan foods to get enough variety of amino acids in our diet. Again, a large variety of amino acids make hormones, enzymes and tissues. This is a reason a lot of vegans may eventually notice hormone problems.
Since animal and conventional vegan proteins may not be good enough for our needs, a new protein strategy must be adopted.
The solution is adding some key amino acid rich super foods into our diet. A complete protein is a protein that contains all 8 essential amino acids. These super foods are complete. Not only are they complete, but the amino acids in these foods are highly bio-available. This means that our bodies will absorb and use a high percentage of the amino acids.
Spirulina, goji berries, bee pollen, hemp seeds and chia seeds are these key super foods.
Actually, spirulina contains the highest and most bio-available protein content in any food on Earth. A lot of people use it instead of using protein powders, and it’s one of the reasons why it helps cut sugar cravings.
The amazing thing about these foods is that they also have handfuls of other incredible health benefits. For example, hemp seeds also contain GLA a healthy fat that increases focus and nourishes the skin. Goji berries happen to be an incredibly high source of vitamin C among other things.
Add as many of these foods into your diet to ensure that you are obtaining enough amino acids and supporting your tissues, hormones, neurotransmitters and more.
Now over to you.
How do you feel right now? Most people are very confused with all the conflicting nutrition information available to them and don’t know what’s right for their individual body. Book a free mini-assessment and let’s cut through the confusion and figure out what will make you thrive!