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The Harmful Effects of High Protein Diets

Keith Markel

So your friend tells you she’s starving and has a case of hunger pains. After your workout, you both head to lunch. She orders a cheeseburger deluxe platter, no bun, extra cheese, no fries. She explains the carbs are totally bad for her and that she’s on a high-protein diet. Whether it’s the Atkins Diet, Zone Diet, The South Beach Diet, Meat-Mania, Proteinopia or whatever fancy name they call that high-protein diet she’s on, it’s doing more harm than good.
 
The calling card of high-protein diets is that your body burns fat for energy and that, in turn, will result in weight loss. Prolonged consumption of high protein sends the body into a state of ketosis. That’s top of the list of cons of high-protein diets. Ketosis occurs when the liver converts fats into fatty acids for use as energy and the by-product, ketones. Ketones increase the acidity of the blood and can be detected in the urine. In extreme cases of starvation or fasting, the body undergoes gluconeogenesis, which is the production of glucose from sources other than carbohydrates, primarily protein.

Possible kidney damage

High-protein diets place a lot of stress on the kidneys. The initial weight loss on high-protein diets is from water loss. When carb intake is restricted, the body uses muscle and liver glycogen for energy. For each gram of glycogen, two grams of water are used or “lost.” The minute you give into your carb craving, that weight will come back. The diuretic effect of eliminating carbohydrates from your diet stresses the kidneys while they remove urea, a by-product of protein synthesis, from the body. Compounding that problem, when the body is in a state of ketosis, increased levels of calcium are excreted — that can lead to kidney stones; a build-up of calcium in the urine. Think about the experiment when you put a nail in a cup of Coke: After a few days the acid in the soda starts to dissolve the nail. The same breakdown happens to your bones. Calcium (along with other minerals) is leached from bones and teeth because of the increased acidity of the body. Literally pissing away calcium is a major con of high-protein diets because that will have a negative effect on your workouts. Calcium is a necessary mineral for muscle contraction and nerve impulse. Calcium loss can also lead to stress fractures.    

Increased risk of cardiovascular disease

A balanced diet consists of approximately 60% carbs, 25% protein and 15% fats. However, 30% to 50% of calories come from protein on diets like Atkins. That shift also means an increase in fat consumption: up to 50% of calories come from fat, and increased calorie consumption. For every gram of carbohydrates there are four calories compared to nine calories per gram of fat. Meats, cheese and eggs — animal and dairy products — all contain saturated fats and cholesterol, even the leaner varieties. When you think about it, how healthy does eating sausage, egg and cheese for breakfast, a cheeseburger and milkshake for lunch and (let’s say you’re trying to be healthy) a salad for dinner with chicken, egg, bacon bits, nuts, and with Ranch, Caesar or blue cheese dressing sound? Over time, consumption of this sort of diet, along with limited fiber and fruit consumption will raise LDL cholesterol levels and increase the risk of heart disease. 

Negative effect on social interactions

Complex and simple carbohydrates are broken down into glucose, which is used for energy. Not getting enough glucose is next on the list of the cons of high-protein diets. Glucose is the only fuel source for your brain (not to mention your boys below the belt). When your brain is lacking that vital nutrient, you become fuzzy and can’t think straight. You also become irritable and cranky, and may experience dizziness, fatigue and headaches. What causes this change in mood is low serotonin levels and tryptophan. That moody and tired disposition definitely doesn’t make you a fun person to be around. And while you’re telling off your friends or yelling at your boyfriend or girlfriend, they’ll recoil from your breath. Bad breath is a “symptom” of high-protein diets. The body releases ketones through the lungs as well. Your breath will have a sickly, sour or alcoholic odor.

Increased risk of constipation

The restriction of carbohydrates on high-protein diets also reduces the amount of fiber you get in your diet. Fruits and grains are considered off-limits. Limited fiber intake can cause constipation, not to mention the dehydration caused by ketosis and limited carbs. Insoluble fiber found in fruits, veggies and whole cereal grains can prevent constipation. Soluble fiber can decrease blood cholesterol. And when you pop those laxatives, you may still have a hard time eliminating your bowels because diets high in meat can cause hemorrhoids.

Protein isn’t particularly dangerous, but an over-consumption of protein may be associated with:

  1. Dehydration. Experts advise drinking a half gallon of water per 100 grams of protein.
  2. Seizures. Seizures have been linked to excess protein intake – but only if insufficient amounts of water are consumed.
  3. Increase in liver enzymes.
  4. Nutritional deficiencies. Just focusing on protein intake causes some high-protein dieters to overlook other nutrients. Ensure that your diet is balanced and nutritious.

While this list may seem alarming, it’s important to remember that many of these side effects are only associated with highly excessive protein diets coupled with unbalanced nutrition.

The average person needs about .4 grams of protein per pound of body weight. Active individuals may require .6 grams. People that exercise frequently and at a high intensity – like myself – require about a gram per pound of body weight. Bodybuilders and athletes may require even more.

high-protein = high-risk

Remember, any diet that encourages you to limit or totally eliminate a certain food or food group — such as carbs on a high-protein diet — should be carefully considered before following. The best diet for health, weight management or weight loss is a balanced diet that will not harm vital organs or systems in your body.

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Almond Milk vs. Soy Milk – Which Is Better?

Almond Milk vs Soy Milk: Both almond milk and soy milk are loaded with health benefits. Each are extremely different from cow’s milk and have a lot more health benefits. Soy milk is made by soaking soybeans and grinding them into water. Most will agree that soy milk has somewhat of a “beany” taste. Almond milk on the other hand has been said to contain a “light, nutty, and crisp” taste. Fortunately, each type of milk provides roughly the same health benefits.

Almond Milk vs Soy Milk. Which is better?Soy Milk

Soy milk contains an abundance of protein and a small amount of fiber. The protein and fiber come from the soybeans it is made with. Protein is necessary for muscle mass and can also help provide a “full” feeling to prevent hunger. Fiber can also help to prevent excess hunger. It is necessary for a healthy digestive system and can also help to lower the risk for heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

One of the most notable benefits of soy milk is that it contains isoflavones, which are natural chemicals similar to the female hormone estrogen. It has been suggested that isoflavones may help to decrease the risk of osteoporosis, cancer, heart disease and high blood pressure.

Soy milk also contains no lactose. Approximately 75 percent of the human population has a lactose intolerance at some point in their lives. It also contains prebiotic sugars stachyose and raffinose, which can boost immunity and decrease the amount of toxins inside the body.

Another benefit is the lack of allergies to soy milk experienced among children. In comparison, approximately 0.5 of all children have been found to be allergic to soy milk, whereas 2.5 were found to have an allergy to cow’s milk.

Almond Milk

Almond Milk is better than Soy.Almond milk is considered to be a healthy, flavorful, nutritious beverage. A lot of people drink almond milk plain or unsweetened almond milk, while others choose to use it as an extra ingredient to enhance the flavor of certain foods. One of the first benefits of almond milk is that it contains less calories than most other types of milk. It’s an effective replacement beverage, especially if you’re trying to lose weight. What’s better is that you don’t have to sacrifice flavor.

Almond milk contains an abundance of magnesium, potassium and Vitamin E, all of which are a necessary part of everyone’s diet. Magnesium is necessary for the body’s absorption of calcium, leading to healthier bones and teeth. Potassium is necessary for keeping the heart, brain and kidney tissues strong and healthy. Vitamin E is essential for helping to fight off free radicals, resulting in a lesser chance of developing deadly diseases such as cancer, as well as slowing down the process of aging.

Quite like soy milk, almond milk is also a great alternative for people who experience lactose intolerance. When people who are lactose intolerant attempt to drink regular cow’s milk, they tend to suffer from bloating, indigestion, gas and also become sick in general. Most will agree that almond milk is also tastier than regular cow’s milk, making it an even better, healthier alternative altogether. In addition, it also contains an abundance of protein, making it great for building muscle. Another benefit is that it is considered the healthiest of all other dairy alternatives, especially since it’s the lowest in sugar (lower than soy milk). Almond milk is much lower in sugar in contrast to other dairy alternatives, as it contains only 8 carbs and a total of 7 grams of sugar per serving. It helps to boost energy levels and can keep blood sugar levels from spiking, making it a delightful drink for diabetics and those who suffer from lack of energy in general. It contains 50 percent of the daily recommended amount of Vitamin E. It contains 30 percent of the daily recommended amount of calcium, as well as 25 percent Vitamin D, making it an excellent source for keeping the bones strong and the immune system healthy.

So which is better? Well in my opinin if you buy almond mik, you’ll be making a wise health decision.

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Akilah M. El, N.D. is a Naturopathic Doctor and board-certified Master Herbalist with a private practice in Atlanta Georgia and Berlin Germany. Join Dr Akilah El on Facebook and Twitter 

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5 Foods That’ll Make You Look Younger

The key to glowing skin lies in your stomach.

1. Sweet Potatoes

Beta-carotene, which makes these tubers orange, balances your skin’s pH, helps combat dryness, and promotes cell turnover, all resulting in smoother skin.

2. Wild Salmon

The pigment that makes the fish pink, astaxanthin, is a powerful foe of free radicals, rogue molecules that damage cell membranes and DNA and cause skin to age. A study found that eating one serving every five days can prevent actinic keratoses—ugly rough patches that are precancerous.

3. Tomatoes

The fruit’s red pigment, lycopene, is a potent antioxidant that shields skin from sun damage—like sunscreen, but from the inside out. To best absorb lycopene, eat tomatoes with olive oil.

4. Citrus Fruits

Vitamin C is essential to building collagen, a vital component of young-looking skin, which starts breaking down in your twenties. Citrus also contains bioflavonoids, which protect skin from UV rays and help prevent cell death.

5. Leafy Greens

Spinach, kale, and other greens contain lutein, which protects skin from sun-induced inflammation and wrinkles.

Stay Away From White Foods

Need another reason to avoid white bread, pasta, rice, and other refined grain products? They’re quickly broken down into the ultimate white food: sugar. Once in the bloodstream, sugar bonds with protein and creates advanced glycation end products (aptly abbreviated AGEs), which cause collagen to become inflamed and stiff, leading to wrinkles.

Why Food Is Always Better Than a Pill

“There are so many factors in food that haven’t been studied. It’s very likely that these unknowns work synergistically for a bigger benefit than what you can find in a supplement.”
—Nicholas Perricone, dermatologist

According to dermatologist Leslie Baumann, red wine contains skin-friendly grape-seed extract and resveratrol, two powerful antioxidants. Hops in beer, it turns out, may also offer antioxidant benefits.