Proteins

Buy the Best Protein Sources You Can Afford !

I don’t want you to be afraid that foods like eggs, fish, meats, and dairy like cheese and yogurt are inherently bad for you. Just buy the best quality you can afford.

Eggs

Eggs have been shown in a large meta-analysis of the best studies not to increase cardiovascular disease risk if you eat one or two every day! The studies actually showed you were 10 % less likely to get heart disease by eating an egg every day compared with those who did not. There was a recent study showing an increased cardiovascular disease risk with egg consumption but in my opinion it was poorly designed. They included eating foods containing eggs such as cookies, cakes and ice cream in the egg servings per week. I am certain that eating a donut is not the same as eating an egg when it comes to your health!

I eat eggs nearly every day. I buy the best quality eggs I can afford. I will buy cage free eggs or get organic eggs when on sale. I also look for local sources of eggs in the summer at farm markets. I believe the fats in these eggs are healthier. The hens are fed better ingredients in their diet. We are what we eat and what they ate.

Red and Processed Meats

I am not recommending that you eat more red and processed meats. In Mediterranean countries they don’t eat much red meat except perhaps lamb.They have more fish. In Japan, they eat mostly vegetables, rice and fish.They are healthier and live longer in these countries compared with the U.S.

Population studies have shown a 30% increased risk of  colon cancer with red meat consumption daily versus less than once weekly. The risk is even higher for colon cancer when eating processed meats on a daily basis compared with less than once per week. The risk with processed meats such as bacon, sausage and lunch meats was 3-4 times (300-400%) higher risk of colon cancer! No one knows why. I previously thought this increased risk was due to the nitrite and nitrate preservatives. I am no longer convinced that is the cause. Maybe they just don’t contain very healthy ingredients. The type of fat contained in these processed meats may not be as good. Perhaps the cooking method such as grilling at high temperatures makes a difference. For these reasons, I suggest avoiding frequent consumption of processed meats.

I am buying grass fed beef from a local farmer. This is naturally very lean and the type of fat it contains is healthier compared with “factory farm” beef that comes from concentrated animal feeding operations (CFAO’s). Grass fed beef has more healthy omega-3 fats. It has been shown that typical store bought beef from CFAO’s increases insulin resistance. That can increase your risk for diabetes. This is not the case for grass fed beef. So, if you are not able to buy grass fed beef I would limit red meat and buy the leanest cuts and trim off the excess fat. The fat of these animals is not healthy! They were fed lots of grains such as corn and soybeans.We know that soybean oil and corn oil are very high in omega-6 fats. A diet with a preponderance of omega-6 fats  has been speculated to cause inflammation in the body. The corn and soybeans are almost always from GMO sources. The jury is still out on the GMO issue but I am avoiding them when possible. The feeding practices on these CAFO’s, I believe, makes the fat of these animals more prone to cause inflammation and insulin resistance when we consume it.  They are also likely to be given antibiotics to promote weight gain and prevent illness because they are raised in unhealthy conditions. This can leave antibiotic residues in the meat we eat. Another choice would be organic beef or grain finished beef that was fed non-GMO grain briefly before going to market. Those would be a reasonable compromise. Still we should be limiting red meat due to above concerns.

Chicken, Turkey and Other Meats

Similarly, I recommend buying chicken, turkey and other meats from the best sources you can afford. If you buy from the “factory farms” it will probably have been fed lots of grains and not have healthy fats. These animals many times are kept in a small confined area and get fat so fast that they can no longer stand up before they are slaughtered. They may have been given antibiotics and hormones as well.  Buy organic if you can afford it or look for something pasture raised or from a local farmer that you trust who raised those animals in a healthier manner and fed them a better diet.

Fish and Seafood

I try to find wild caught fish such as Alaskan salmon.Sardines are a good source of omega-3 fats too. Tuna from a sustainable source is good. Light skipjack Tuna is a good choice. The larger Albacore Tuna may have more mercury contamination because it is higher up on the food chain. But, it also has more of the healthy omega-3 fats like EPA and DHA so there are tradeoffs over which is better. Some farm raised  fish and seafood like shrimp may be okay depending on what country it came from and how it was fed. Seafood Watch is one resource for sustainable and safe seafood that might be helpful.

Milk

I don’t drink milk. I am somewhat lactose intolerant like the majority of adults in this world. I don’t miss it.

Lactose is one of the sugars in milk that requires the enzyme lactase to digest it. Only a minority of adults mostly of Northern European ancestry maintain the ability to digest much lactose. Milk and ice cream contain lactose.

Fermented dairy such as yogurt and cheese have minimal lactose and don’t usually cause problems unless a person is severely lactose intolerant.

If you like milk, I would recommend not drinking too much. This is because of the association of milk sugars with increased cardiovascular risk. Maybe a glass or perhaps a little more for younger people per day. See the above discussion about dairy fats. You might like to try coconut “milk “or almond “milk” instead if you have issues with lactose.

Casein: Not The Only Animal Protein In This World 

I have read the book The China Study  by T. Colin Campbell and I don’t agree with the author’s conclusion that all animal proteins cause cancer.

The take-home message I got from reading this book is that we should not have a diet that is very high in the dairy protein casein. Casein is the primary protein in dairy but it is not the only protein. Whey protein is another for example.

In his book, Dr.Campbell describes how animals fed a diet with 20% protein all of which was casein were more likely to develop cancers such as liver cancer if they were also given aflatoxin (which is a liver toxin making them more prone to liver cancer). The animals who were fed a diet containing only 5% casein did not get liver cancer. So, we can conclude that it would be unwise to have a diet that contains 20% casein protein. Especially, if you somehow get exposed to aflatoxin! But, the animals fed a diet  that contained 5% casein did not develop cancer in his studies.

I’m going to pick a nice aged cheddar cheese and  some full fat Greek yogurt for my 5%!

Nuts

Nuts are a good source of protein. Almonds, cashews, pecans, pistachios and walnuts are a staple around our house. Nuts have healthy fats as well. Just don’t overdo it with the portions.

Beans and legumes

Beans and legumes including peanuts are good sources of protein if you are not avoiding them on certain diets (paleo, Dr. Gundry etc.) They are especially important for vegetarians. Just be sure to cook them well. Pressure cooking in an instant pot may get rid of most of the lectins. These are proteins that may cause gut issues according to Dr. Gundry.

Grains

Grains have some protein as well. They are also an important source of protein for vegetarians. I do have concerns about many of the grains in this country being treated with roundup shortly before harvesting to dry out the grain. Even non-GMO grains including oats and wheat have roundup residual for this reason. Experts claim it isn’t  enough to cause cancer but I’m sure it isn’t doing us any good. I am concerned about the possible effects on our gut microbiome as well. To avoid this problem choose organic/ non-GMO grains when you can.