Hey y'all! I fully intended to post this Monday, but my internet has been out all week. This is probably the last post like this that I'm going to write, though. I still want to tell you about my plant-based journey, but my posts kind of went in a different direction than I envisioned. I didn't want them to sound like a science paper. Lol! However, I do want to give those of you who might be considering eating this way and was wondering about your protein and calcium sources, a few good options. Again, if you have any questions or would like more information, I would be happy to help.
So, today I'm going to talk about protein and calcium. The top two questions I get when someone finds out that I'm eating a plant-based diet is where do you get your protein and calcium. And I say, plants. Yes, it's true. Plants have both and plenty of it.
There are two misconceptions about protein: #1..You need a lot of it to be healthy and strong, and #2..You can't get enough from plants. Both are wrong. According to the World Health Organization, at most 10-15% of your calories need to come from protein.....of that percentage, the higher end should be for pregnant women and athletes. And, the healthiest way to get it is from plants. Plant-based proteins contain all eight of the essential amino acids. Animal proteins, on the other hand, leaches calcium from your bones and the highly acidic animal proteins inundate your kidneys with acid, causing them to go into hyper-filtration mode. They get over worked as they continually filter out all the animal stuff from your blood. Plant protein, however, has been shown to protect healthy kidneys and help sick kidneys become better by easing their burden. And, I'll just throw out there that cancer thrives in an acidic environment. That's a whole other discussion that I'm not going to go into, but the bottom line is animal proteins are acidic, plant proteins are alkaline.
More on the acidic animal proteins in a minute, but first.....I was totally unaware, as I'm sure many of you are, how much protein we actually need. What I found in my research is that The Institute of Medicine, which advises the federal government, recommends that men consume 56 grams a day and women 46 grams. I read that the average man actually takes in more than 100 grams and the average female takes in 70 grams. That's getting close to twice the daily recommendations. If you are concerned about building muscle, the best way to do that is by exercising...either by lifting weights or resistance training, allowing for recovery time and then repeating the process. And the best things for muscle recovery and performance are whole-plant foods. They have the perfect amount of lean and healthy protein to keep your muscles strong. So knowing that I needed about 46 grams of protein a day, I went to my food diary and added up all the grams of protein I had taken in on a few given days and the totals was almost dead on...it was between 46 and 48 grams a day. A few examples are: oatmeal with 6 grams of protein, banana - 1.1 grams, broccoli - 3.7 grams, mushrooms - 3 grams, black beans - 7 grams, and whole-wheat pasta - 8 grams. There are many, many more, but this gives you a good idea of what you can count on in just one serving.
As I mentioned earlier, animal protein leaches calcium from your bones and here's why. If you've ever taken a Tums, then you've taken calcium carbonate and you know it's a great anti-acid, right? Calcium is so great that the body uses it to combat an acid environment. Animal protein is acidic. When you consume meat or dairy, the fluids in your body become acidic and is forced to compensate by taking minerals from your bones and tissues to bring the acid level down. And the mineral that the body uses for this is calcium. The constant leaching of calcium can, overtime, lead to brittle bones.
This leads me to healthy calcium sources. Once again, it is plants! Plants offer plenty of calcium and the calcium from plants is absorbed twice as well as the calcium from milk. Only about one-third of milk's calcium is absorbed by the body. The other two-thirds simply passes out with the wastes. In addition, milk contains animal protein and sodium, both of which tend to increase calcium loss through the kidneys. Now don't get me wrong, we need some calcium in our diets, but it should come from healthful sources, namely green leafy vegetables and beans. While there is somewhat less calcium in broccoli than milk, the absorption fraction is higher for broccoli and nearly all other greens than milk. The only exception I read was spinach and although it's high in calcium, for some reason the absorption fraction is low. It's important to remember, that to maintain calcium balance, it is important not only to take in an adequate amount but also to minimize losses like I explained earlier. So, how much calcium do we need? The recommended daily intake of calcium is around 1,000 mg. This isn't hard to do. Greens and beans will give you all the calcium your body needs. If you are looking for extra, for some reason, you can find it in fortified juices and soy or almond milks. A few examples are: boiled collards, which has 266 mg calcium per cup. Others are kale, navy beans, great northern beans, oranges, chia seeds, broccoli, bok choy, even black strap molasses. And once again, there are many, many more options to get your calcium in the plant-based world.
In a week or so, I'll try to summarize all the important points. For now, let's call it a day. But first, let me give you an update on my progress. My energy levels are still off the charts. Last week, I cleaned the front porch, the screened porch and patio of pollen. I vacuumed the cushions, washed the furniture and even mopped the front porch floor. I vacuumed window screens, removed them and washed the windows. And if that wasn't enough, I planted my summer vegetables and even started a new raised bed. I, also, planted a few pots of zinnias and marigolds from seeds. This week, I've ridden my bike 44.73 miles and walked over 6.5 miles. It seems like the more I do, the more energy I have. I continue to check my blood sugar levels daily and they are continuing to come down. This last week, they have been below 100 mg/dl, consistently.....with a couple of exceptions. The weight loss is starting to slow down a bit. The first few weeks, I was averaging about 3 lbs of weight loss per week. Now, I'm losing about 1 lb per week. Hallelujah, I'll take it! I've now lost a total of 16 lbs.
I hope you check back in a couple of days....I'm going to share a favorite recipe with you.
Take care....talk soon,
Oh wait! There is a Food Revolution Summit coming up that you might be interested in . There will be many doctors, experts and researchers to listen to in daily videos. Some of these are ones that I've already learned from and can't wait to hear what they are going to bring to this food summit. Dr. Neal Barnard, Kris Carr, and Dr. Dean Ornish to name a few. It will take place online from April 29 - May 7 and it's free. If you would like to sign up to be able to watch these incredible videos, click on this link.