The Danger of Excess Protein

Protein is the word for chains of amino acids. In other words, protein = amino acids. Our body makes its own non-essential amino acids, but we need to get essential amino acids from our food. Our amino acid storage is limited, and is directly related to height. (In other words, I can store like, 3 amino acids.)

Essential amino acids take a lot of metabolic energy to create. Plants are solar powered, using 95% of the sun’s energy. While plants get enough solar energy to put together essential amino acids, animals do not – they’re not solar powered. All essential amino acids come from plants. Essential amino acids from animals are recycled essential amino acids animals got from plants.

The body recycles amino acids – holding on onto uncommon essential amino acids. But even if that wasn’t the case, plants have all 20 amino acids – essential and nonessential – because they need ‘em too!

Too many amino acids, especially non-essential amino acids from dairy products, can damage your liver and kidneys. It becomes a waste disposal problem, like overflowing trash cans. Your body has no room to store amino acids that the body can’t use or doesn’t need, and they can’t be converted to energy. The liver and kidneys are the garbage men that have to process the excess amino acids, which causes the liver and kidneys to go into overdrive. The science behind this?

Amino acids are made up oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, and, uniquely, nitrogen. The body cuts off the nitrogen because it doesn’t need it. The nitrogen turns into ammonia for a split second, then is converted to UREA. Good thing, because ammonia is deadly! When the UREA gets to the kidneys, they filter it out through urine. When the kidneys have to deal with excess UREA from too many amino acids, it can cause kidney disease. But plants need protein, and thrive with nitrogen fertilizer. (Remember, it all starts with nitrogen.) Ultimately we have to process the nitrogen, but too much is toxic.

Furthermore, excess amino acids can raise insulin-like growth factor-1 or IGF-1. IGF-1 is an essential hormone that regulates body metabolism, growth, cell division, cell death, ect. But dairy amino acids causes IGF-1 soar, because IGF-1 is produced in cows for nursing young, which calves need to grow but humans don’t. IGF-1 causes cancer cells to divide more rapidly. Cells in the body that are damaged are supposed to self-destruct. Cancer cells can’t self-destruct with excess IGF-1. IGF-1 also encourages blood vessel growth, which can nourish tumors. Even plant protein isolates (not whole foods) can raise levels of IGF-1.

And the last major threat of excess protein is chronic inflammation. Inflammation is a natural healing process. But too many amino acids (too much protein) causes chronic inflammation. These foreign animal amino acids are seen as threats to the body, causing inflammation every time they’re consumed. A wound can’t heal if you are continually damaging it, and that is what happens with foreign animal amino acids – they can cause chronic inflammation.

To summarize, all essential amino acids come from plants. Excess of amino acids from dairy protein or isolated plant protein can cause toxicity of UREA, causing kidney and/or liver disease. Plants (in whole food form) are rich in essential and non-essential amino acids without too much to cause toxicity. Too many amino acids can also raise IGF-1, which can lead to cancer. Finally, excess protein can cause chronic inflammation.

In conclusion, friends, eat plant-based whole food protein, otherwise your human body may transform into a huge amino acid monster that causes global warming and fires up the bubonic plague again and then finally dies by self destructing and blowing up the planet, ending life on earth in one huge explosion of deadly protein.

SOURCE: “The Dangerous Truth About Protein” – Janice Stanger, Ph.D.

Now Foods Pea Protein Isolate Review

Yeah okay so it took a college nutrition class for me to find out that I’m not getting enough protein (ever since I cut out soy awhile back)91OPudlkMyL__SY450_. I had only been getting about 20 grams of protein a day, if that. I know, I’m terrible.

But the good news is I AM getting enough protein now! (Insert applause.)

Honestly I had a little bit of trouble finding a vegan protein isolate that wasn’t absolutely disgusting and inexpensive. That’s why I loved soy protein isolate – it tasted good, and was dirt cheap. But I reached the point where I could no longer soy (GMO, monocropped, deforestation, ect.) (soy is a verb now).

Hemp protein? Gross. Rice protein? Okay, but super expensive. Volcanic ash protein? Too hot. Eventually I stumbled across pea protein (or as my dad “cleverly” calls it, pee protein), and searched the web for the lowest price. The best deal I found: Now Foods Pea Protein on Amazon, which is now only about $7.50 a pound. I gave it a try.

Eventually my obnoxiously bright tub of pea protein arrived and my protein-deficient cells started cheering. I anxiously opened and tried it, straight up, because YO, you have to isolate your variables.

My first impression?

DUDE! This stuff is good I could eat it by itself!

Conclusion: Pea protein rocks. It tastes great, has a non-bothersome texture, and has all essential amino acids.

YAY! I will be ordering this stuff until the next studies come out proving pea protein isolate to be horrendously bad for you!

BUY SOME PEA PROTEIN!

WHOLE: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition Review

wholeI put Whole on hold at the library so I could learn exactly how nutrients and food work in the body. I wanted to know not simply if something was healthy or not but why.

The “tagline” for Whole is kind of misleading: “What happens when you eat an apple? The answer is vastly more complex than you imagine.” This book actually explains that we can’t know what happens when we eat an apple. The human body is actually vastly more complex than we can ever know – than we need to know.

Nutrition is way too complicated to understand completely. My original question – “Exactly how do nutrients and food work in the body?” – was coming from a reductionist mindset, which is precisely the problem of today’s nutritional logic.

Whole explores concepts of nutritional reductionist paradigms. It discusses how this phenomenon developed, and how and why media and the healthcare system is controlling our nutrition and information.

This definitely wasn’t the read I was expecting. It’s dense and complicated, but stick with it – it’s worth it. Whole, if you let it, will shake you right out of today’s current nutritional paradigm.

The reductionist flaw in our nutrition system

While a reductionist focuses on single processes within the body, a wholist focuses on the entire system and its health. The reductionist says: Lets study what a vitamin does in the body! The wholist says: Lets eat healthy, plant based foods! America’s nutritional system is very focused on reductionism. It has hidden the big picture from us; the big picture being the whole body. Instead we focus on single nutrients, single processes. And this was intentional. Why? Because the big bucks are in reductionism. The big bucks are in pills and surgery and all that jazz. People don’t get surgery when the body was healthy in the first place.

American’s nutritional model has filtered through a lense of reductionism. We’re stuck in this paradigm that distorts the big picture of nutrition. We’re mistaken a part for the whole dang thing.

Campbell explains this using the good ole’ blind people and an elephant metaphor. A group of blind people are touching different parts of an elephant, disagreeing and arguing over what it is.

“It’s a rope!” says the person touching the tail.

“It’s a tree!” says the person feeling the leg.

“It’s a spear!” says the person feeling the tusk.

How can these people expect to come to an agreement unless they can see the whole picture – in this case – the whole elephant? How can we expect to understand the entire body if we are focusing on single parts?

“Filters – mental and literal – become problematic only when we forget about them and think that what we’re seeing is the whole of reality, instead of a very narrow slice of it. Paradigms become prisons only when we stop recognizing them as paradigms – when we think that water is all there is, so we don’t even have a name for it anymore. In a world shaped by the paradigm of water, anyone who suggests the existence of “not water” is automatically a heretic, a lunatic, or a clown.” – T. Colin Campbell

But the battle between reductionism and wholism is pointless; both are necessary. One does not oppose the other; both are important. Wholism encompasses reductionism. Wholism needs reductionism to advance, and reductionism need wholism to remain relevant. An organ obviously is a single system, but it is a system that relies, depends, and communicates with the entire body.

“Each part is an integral element of the same system, all the parts are connected to one another, no one part stands alone. And this means each part affects and is affected by the other parts. Removing or modifying a part changes the whole, just as changing the whole … impacts the parts – that is, when one part is altered, all the other parts are forced to adapt to try and keep the system running.”

 

Further reading on this topic…

Why are supplements are suspicious?

How and why are we locked in this reductionist system? (Coming soon)

 

Campbell, T. Colin, and Howard Jacobson. Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition. N.p.: BenBella, 2013. Print.

Why Supplements are Suspicious

homePageImageWe’ve been taught to think of food in terms of what we need. Lacking vitamin A? Eat a carrot. Need calcium? Drink milk. But food does a lot more inside our bodies than nutrients ingested in pill form. There is almost no direct relationship between nutrients consumed and nutrients actually reaching its “main site of action in the body”. This is known as bioavailability.

Whether a vitamin will be utilized or not is unpredictable, because it depends on the body’s needs at the time. The body chooses what to use and what to discard. Therefore, we can’t just throw large doses of nutrients into a supplement and call it good.

“The pathway that nutrients take often branches, and branches further, and branches further again, leading the nutrient through a maze of reactions that is far more complex and unpredictable than the simple linear model of reductionism would suggest.” – T. Colin Campbell

Nutrient content in the same foods varies dramatically. For example, the beta-carotene content in two peaches varied by 40 times, depending on season, soil, storage, processing, and location. Not only do nutrients in food vary; whether our body will absorb or not them does too. Nutrients can also modify one another’s activities. “Calcium decreases iron bioavailability by as much as 400%, while carotenoids (like beta-carotene) increases iron absorption by as much as 300%.”

The common belief that we can know the effects of a single nutrient while ignoring other factors is foolish. We should be suspicious of “mega-doses” that are isolated from whole foods. We have evolved to eat whole foods, not vitamin E injections.

Only a miniscule percentage of total nutrients are even identified. The body is simply too complicated for us to know what kinds of nutrients are consumed in a single meal. The good news is that nature knows what it’s doing. We don’t need to know every single detail about the complex system of nutrition – not only do we not need to – we can’t.

 

Campbell, T. Colin, and Howard Jacobson. Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition. N.p.: BenBella, 2013. Print.

FINDING YOUR ELEMENT cheat sheet.

Quotes, unless otherwise stated, are from Sir Ken Robinson.

Finding Your Element is a sequel to The Element by Sir Ken Robinson. I don’t think you need to read the first book to read the second. I’ll just give you a summary of the first: finding your element(s) is about finding your true passion in life, and how finding it will improve your life drastically. The first book summarized in a quote: “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” – Confucius

Finding your element is “about doing something that feels so completely natural to you, that resonates so strongly with you, that you feel that this is who you really are.”

Finding your element is finding your passion, your calling, work that truly fulfills you. It is vital to understanding yourself and your capabilities. And that is what this book helps you find.

Okay, now that we have the basics covered, let’s get started. I’m including, in this cheat sheet, my favorite parts and exercises in Finding Your Element, and my own twists. Basically this cheat sheet is for me to continually come back to because I definitely won’t remember everything I want to remember otherwise.

EXERCISE ONE. How do you spend your time?

Take a piece of paper and write down all the things you do in a week, how much time you spend on each, and how you feel about each one. What would you like to change? What are your favorite things on this list to do? What, ideally, would this piece of paper look like?

The point is to change your life by analyzing how you live now and progressing to living how you truly want to live. But first, you might want to ask yourself, how important is it to you that you’re doing what you love?

Various exercises to utilize during your quest of finding your passion.

Mind mapping – Grab a piece of paper and write a concept or idea in the center of the page. Draw a tree of connecting ideas relating to the subject. Google mind mapping for some beautiful examples.

Journaling – Without editing yourself, re-reading, or editing. Just write.

Vision board – A collage that reflects your aspirations, hopes and dreams; who you want to be.

You’re UNIQUE! Your life has and will never be lived by anyone else. It is completely in your power how you live it.

Life is ORGANIC! You can’t always plan for what will happen; you’ll be much happier if you learn to go with the organic flow of life. Keep goals in mind, but have wiggle room. The key is balance.

“Because life is creative and organic, you do not need to plan your whole life’s journey in one go. Sometimes it’s helpful to have long-term goals, and some people do. It can be just as helpful to focus on the immediate steps. Beginning the journey, and being willing to explore various pathways, can be as productive as setting out with one final destination in mind. Sometimes you can only plan the next step. But that can be enough to move forward. The important step is the first one.”

• • 

What are you good at?

“It may take much less effort to become good at something that comes naturally to you than at something that doesn’t. But if you don’t make that effort, you’ll never know what you might have achieved if you tried.”

Despite having a natural talent for something or not, you have to put in the work of developing the skill, you have to practice. We all have natural talents that, if utilized, can be very powerful forces in the world.

Our element(s) changes and shifts as we change. You may have one element, you may have several.

Questions to ask yourself:

- Which aspects of your life engage you the most and feed your spirit?

- Which ones engage you the least?

- Do you know what your Element is?

- Do you know what direction you want to move in?

- What would you like to do that you haven’t tried yet? Why haven’t you?

- At which time of your life were you the happiest? What were you doing?

- What activities make time disappear for you?

- Who are you genuinely jealous of because of what they do? For example, I’m jealous of Elizabeth Gilbert because she writes and travels for a living. I’m also jealous of iJustine on YouTube because she gets to spend her days making videos. This gives me an idea of what I’d like to spend my time doing!

• • 

APTITUDES.

Create opportunities for yourself to really discover what you’re capable of. You may have developed stories about what you are and aren’t good at. They may be true, but they may also just be a story. Challenge your beliefs about yourself. Who knows what could happen? As we learned, life is organic. What new activities could you try? Explore.

More questions.

- What sort of activities come especially easily to you?

- What do you feel your natural talents are?

- How did you first become aware of them?

- Do you have any aptitudes that you’ve never considered developing?

- Do you have any talents that you haven’t developed but wished that you had?

- If you’ve ever taken any aptitude tests, did any of the results surprise you?

- Which of your aptitudes do you think you could really develop if you tried?

• • 

Everyone likes different things.

“I get physically depressed in shops. The moment I cross the threshold of a clothes shop, I begin to lose the will to live. My shoulders fall, my eyes dull, and I have to sit down to support the heavy weight of my heart. While my soul is quietly gasping for air in most retail outlets, I see other people sucking in the same atmosphere with looks of exhilarated enchantment.”

I thought this was hilarious. I don’t mind shops at all, but I feel the same way Ken feels with fixing cars. Bless auto mechanics.

• • 

Happiness.

Finding your element and having a purpose in life is the key to happiness. “It tends to be difficult to find happiness unless you feel that what you’re doing is significant in some way.”

Martin Seligman, the father of positive psychology, believes there are five elements to well-being. Positive emotions, engagement, meaning, relationships, and achievement.

Exercise: Try doing a mind map. Write your name in the center and draw outwards to each area of well-being. Reflect on how well you feel you’re fulfilling each area. How can you improve in each area?

• • 

ATITUUUTUDE.

Limitations are self imposed. “If you know what your Element is, you need the self-belief and determination to pursue it. If you don’t know what it is, you need to feel entitled to look for it. … The things that are stopping you only exist in your mind.”

Cheesy as it is, you have to believe in your possibilities.

“The man who does not want to act says he cannot.” –Antonio Gramsci

• • 

Where are you now?

We’re all starting at different places. We could be committed or tied down, or free and able to make our own decisions.

“While it’s important to look at the obstacles in front of you and while it is essential to take stock of your situation, you can move toward the life you feel you should be living from virtually anywhere. An essential first step here is to take stock of where you are now.”

Exercise: SWOT analysis, developed by Albert Humphrey in the sixties.

Get out a piece of paper and draw a box. Divide it into four smaller boxes. In the top left box, write strengths, in the top right, weaknesses, in the bottom left, opportunities, and in the bottom right, threats.

Internal factors are on top, external on bottom. Record your aptitudes, passions, attitude; everything we’ve learned, and other things you want to add.

Consider your basic situation. Your age, responsibilities, financial situation. What’s keeping you from doing what you really want to do? What hurdles must you jump through too do it? What’re the consequences of jumping through them?

What resources are available to you right now to pursue your passions? Do you need to develop your strengths? Maybe through different opportunities?

What can you do about your weaknesses?

“If you move in the direction of your passions, opportunities tend to appear that you couldn’t have imagined and that weren’t there otherwise.”

As a personal example, I recently started messing around with filming video, editing, and uploading them to YouTube. I posted one on my Facebook, which led to a family friend asking if I wanted to be paid to record her daughter’s wedding!

• • 

Be ready. Be realistic.

Be realistic when it comes to your dreams and decisions. You’ll experience a harsh reality if you sugar coat things in your mind. Be prepared for a change: a new environment, new people, new circumstances. It’s a new lifestyle! Are you ready?

“I regularly talk to people who have started to do the thing they believe they should be doing, but are worried that they might have made a mistake because they haven’t prepared themselves emotionally as they should have. Any new situation requires some time for adjustment, but you’ll be far better off if you understand beforehand how much of an adjustment you need to make.”

What kind of experience do you need to expose yourself to before you do what you want to do? How can you prepare yourself? How do you know if it is what you really want? For example, a lot of people tend to struggle with college plans. Do I want to go to college? What do I want to study? Where do I want to go?

“Some paths through life do not depend at all on having a conventional college education. You shouldn’t assume that going to college will guarantee your future or that not going will undermine it. Many people get much more from college if they do something else before they go. Mature students – those who were taking programs after other work experience – applied themselves with more energy to their studies than younger students who’d gone straight from school. This was because they knew why they were taking the program and were determined to get as much as possible from it.” – Ben Strickland, a senior at the University of Oklahoma.

It takes maturity and awareness of yourself to know what you really want, to know your purpose. There are other ways to gain this knowledge other than college, and it will always be there when you’re ready. Although, college itself can help you find yourself as well.

Are you going to completely dive in to what you truly want to do? Or should you start with baby steps? This will depend on a variety of factors. How comfortable with change you are, your financial and personal commitments, how much you want it.

How easily can you take a risk? What are the biggest hurdles? What would it take to get over them, and what would happen if you did or didn’t? Will your loved ones support or oppose you? How do you know? Are you ready?

• • 

Tribes

Find a tribe of people who share your interests and passions. Why? Because tribes are a source of affirmation, guidance, collaboration and inspiration. They are a foundational support system that will challenge you and push your boundaries. Without them, it is easy to feel isolated, clueless, and unable to foresee a path in your particular passion. What people and communities attract you? Why? Is it the work they do, or their personalities? We are organic creatures, who, just like plants, grow better when surrounded by certain other plants, a phenomenon in botany called “companion planting”. How to find your tribe? Utilize the internet, clubs and associations, classes and workshops, volunteer, intern, and/or find a mentor.

Exercise: Write a letter as if you were someone who knew you well who is explaining you to another person, who happens to be interested in supporting your work. Write it as quickly as you can.

Exercise: Draw four circles which overlap each other like a Venn diagram. Label each aptitudes, passions, attitude, and opportunities. In each circle, write a few words or statements that represent how you can deepen in this area. In each circle, prioritize them in most to least important. The top priorities are your next four steps in your action plan.

• • 

Good luck.

Hungry for Change Review

Times are a-changin’ – studies show that Americans are indeed eating more fresh food than they did a few years ago. We seem to be on the brink of a nutrition shift here in America – I mean, how could we not be? There are tons of new documentaries about nutrition coming out and with Netflix instant watch at my fingertips I can watch them all to my heart’s content!

I give “Hungry for Change” a solid 4/5 stars. It advocates a plant based diet, saying we’re overfed but starving on a nutritional level – I couldn’t agree more. There was some wonderful information about artificial sweeteners and also how dangerous foods get approved by the FDA: companies fund research reports and skew the results in their favor while the objective studies that show negative symptoms stand idly by.

It talks about juicing and how beneficial it can be for our health when we otherwise wouldn’t be eating vegetables. The last quarter of the movie addresses emotional eating, which I was glad to see – you can easily advise someone to stop eating so much cake, but this of course is not addressing the root problem of why they’re eating.

“Hungry for Change” reminded me of a sequel to “Forks over Knives” and “Food Matters” with interesting twists and a few new topics. Overall a good documentary and worth the watch if you have a few hours to kill.

Probiotics–Bacteria that’s GOOD for you?

Have you ever heard someone say how yogurt contains healthy “live cultures” or “bacteria”? Probiotics are bacteria naturally found in the body that help it run smoothly as opposed to the ones that make us sick. Many fermented food or drinks like kombucha or yogurt contain healthy probiotics. Fermentation is chemical breakdown of a substance by bacteria, yeast, or other microorganisms.

Antibiotics are given to you when you are sick. They flush out all the bacteria in your body to fight infection, including the good probiotics. Get it? Antibiotics and probiotics?

Having an adequate amount of bacteria in your body makes foreign bacteria – like the cold or flu – more common to the body. Basically your body is accustomed and efficient on dealing with viruses and bacteria. My dad recently had been on an antibiotic for a infected cut and he quite easily picked up the flu my step-mom had and I didn’t. Immunity power up!

Probiotics regulate bacteria in your colon which helps us digest food and absorb nutrients. Patients on antibiotics, who are stripped clean of probiotics, report having diarrhea. They also help with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and urinary tract syndrome.

Kombucha tends to be $3-4 a bottle, so my mom and I have been making our own at home. I love the taste of Kombucha, and it gives me an energy/vitality boost even more so than coffee (caffiene randomly stopped having an effect on me!). Kombucha simply makes me feel good, and usually cures a headache too. You can buy Kombucha tea at QFC, Whole Foods, most health food stores, and Safeway near the Naked and POM juice.

Some Time in Silence


“Meditation is an exercise of your original face. An exercise of that which is the looker, the seeker, the feeler, the knower, the pure emptiness which all these objects arise.” – Ken Wilber

I went to a five day meditation retreat and I wanted to share my experience.

The first day felt a little uncomfortable; it took a day or two to get into the swing of things. Our days consisted of about four hours of teaching/meditation/discussion broken up in sessions, meals at 8am, 12pm, and 6pm, and any extra time was free time or classes/hiking/other arranged activities.

During most of my free time I helped cook in the kitchen for a lower program fee. Here I had the pleasure of working with the most laid-back kitchen crew I’ve ever encountered. When I would ask how much olive oil to add to a salad, the head chef would claim, “whatever tastes good, my dear!” If she and the co-head chef disagreed on the menu, they would stop and hug. It was delightful to be a part of.

As the second day approached, I was making new friends and getting more comfortable. Interestingly, I found myself waiting to go home – I stopped and asked myself what I was really waiting for. Waiting for happiness is against the very nature of happiness. It doesn’t wait. Happiness doesn’t exist tomorrow, or in a week, or in a month. What have I spent so much of my life waiting for? I’m so frequently waiting and never arriving. What if I die having never arrived?

During a teaching during the third day, our teacher made a comment that really struck a chord in me. She said if someone has a capacity for compassion you wish you had yourself, just act as if you were them! This made me realize that maybe, just maybe, I already have inside me exactly what I’m searching for. That I don’t have to keep searching, because it is here, and has always been! What a relief to know I don’t have to keep searching for something that I already have, something that can never go away.

In one of our last meditation practices I realized the way we interpret our emotions is essentially how we interpret our lives. I have the tendency to resist how I feel, given it is a negative emotion. If I feel depressed, anxious, stressed, whatever, I resist and repress it with everything I have. All this does is gets me more tangled in a mess of emotions.

In this meditation practice we were taught to embrace our emotions. Own them. If you’re feeling depressed, hell, feel depressed! Feel the intensity of the emotion with every molecule in your body. And while you are at it, search for the beauty in it. Maybe a particular negative emotion will teach you such a priceless lesson that wouldn’t exist in your life otherwise. Our teachers advised us to greet every emotion that comes into our lives at the door and welcome it inside with a hug. I even took the liberty to give it my finest room.

These were the insights I came home with from five powerful days – it’s not easy to integrate them into my life but I’m working at it. What else can we do? Just greet this challenge of life at the door and try not to get lost!