When I started on my raw foods journey in 2005 one of the most frequently asked questions from family and friends was “where do you get your protein?” Now I hardly ever get this question; however, recently my sister expressed that she still has concern about my protein needs. It was then I realized how important this question really is and, as a health advocate, it is my responsibility to fully explain this topic to those who are interested or concerned. Here is my report…
First, let’s talk about what protein is…
Our body consists primarily of water. The second most abundant building block of our body is protein. Our hair, skin, nails, organs, muscles, bones, and every single cell is made up of protein molecules. All protein molecules consist of a chain of amino acids. You may have heard the term “essential amino acids” – these are amino acids that cannot be synthesized by our human body. To date we know of 9 essential amino acids humans must include in their diet to receive their full protein requirement. When you get down to it, all plants have at least some protein because all plants have at least one or more amino acids – the building blocks of protein.
The difference between complex proteins found in meat, dairy, and fish and the individual amino acids found in plant food is explained very well by Victoria Boutenko in her book “Green for Life:”
“It is clear that the body has to work a lot less when creating protein from the assortment of individual amino acids from greens, rather than the already combined, long molecules from protein, assembled according to the foreign patterns of a totally different creature such as a cow or a chicken. . .
“Imagine that you have to make a wedding dress for your daughter. Consuming the complex proteins that we get from cows or other creatures is like going to the second hand store, and buying many other people’s used dresses, coming home and spending several hours ripping apart pieces of the dresses that you like and combining them into a new dress for your daughter. This alternative will take a lot of time and energy and will leave a great deal of garbage. you could never make a perfect dress this way.
“Consuming individual amino acids is like taking your daughter to a fabric store to buy beautiful new fabric, lace, buttons, ribbons, threads, and pearls. With these essential elements you can make a beautiful dress that fits her unique body perfectly.
“Similarly, when you eat greens, you ‘purchase’ new amino acids, freshly made by sunshine and chlorophyll, which the body will use to rebuild its parts according to your own unique DNA.
“Contrary to this, your body would have a hard time trying to make a perfect molecule of protein out of someone else’s molecules, which consist of totally different combinations of amino acids. Plus, your body would most likely receive a lot of unnecessary pieces that are hard to digest. These pieces would be floating around in your blood like garbage for a long time, causing allergies and other health problems.”
Here is an interesting chart found in her book, comparing the essential amino acid content in kale and lambsquarters (a wild green) compared to the FDA recommendations:
AMINO ACIDS RDA FOR AVERAGE CONTENT (MG) IN LAMBSQUARTERS
ADULT(MG/DAY) ONE POUND RAW
Histidine 560 527
Isoleucine 700 1149
Leucine 980 1589
Lysine 840 1607
Methionine + Cysteine 910 222 + 404 = 626
Phenylalanine + Tyrosine 980 754 +795 = 1549
Threonine 490 740
Tryptophan 245 173
Valine 700 1026
AMINO ACIDS RDA FOR AVERAGE CONTENT (MG) IN KALE
ADULT(MG/DAY) ONE POUND RAW
Histidine 560 313
Isoleucine 700 895
Leucine 980 1051
Lysine 840 895
Methionine + Cysteine 910 145 + 200 = 345
Phenylalanine + Tyrosine 980 766 +532 = 1298
Threonine 490 668
Tryptophan 245 182
Valine 700 820
And here is another interesting comparison:
One Serving: One Head:
222 mg tyrosine 205 mg tyrosine
261 mg phenylalanine 272 mg phenylalanine
So you may be asking, “If I can get adequate sources of protein from plants, why do I crave meat?” David Wolfe, author of “Sunfood Diet Success System” states:
“When someone says, ‘I need protein,’ they often need and want fat. Most people and nutritionists cannot distinguish between the desire for fat and the desire for protein . . . . Imagine a newborn human baby doubling its body weight in several months on a diet of breast milk. Most breast milk is less than 2% protein and even the heavier ‘hind-milk’ is only 10% protein. Breast milk itself, is a fat-dominant food . . . . . Real strength and building material comes from green-leafed vegetables, seeds, and superfoods where the amino acids are found. These are our true ‘protein foods.’ They contain all the amino acids we require. We might look at the gorilla, zebra, giraffe, hippo, rhino or elephant and find they build their enormous musculature on green-leafy vegetation and grass seeds exclusively.”
In addition, Max Planck Institute reports that half of the protein in food is destroyed by cooking. This means the normal 25-30% protein which meat is reported to have is usually reduced to only about 13-15%.
Plant protein, in my opinion, is a higher and lighter vibration. It is also easier for our bodies to digest and absorb and this is why I choose to receive my protein in this way. Here is a list of foods I consume which are considered a “complete protein,” meaning they contain all the essential amino acids our bodies require . . .
COMPLETE PROTEIN SOURCES
* Most green leafy vegetable
* Hemp seeds (36.6% protein – making them, by weight, the highest protein food on earth, with the exception of algae. In addition, 65% percent of hemp protein is Edestin, considered by scientists to be the most easily digestible type of protein)
* Flax seeds
* Chia seeds
* Goji berries
* Bee Pollen (contains all the essential amino acids plus quite a few more, such as arginine, aspartic acid, glutamine, proline, glycine alanine, etc.)
* Royal Jelly
* Blue-Green algae (60% protein)
* Spirulina (65-71%)
* Marine phytoplankton (over 60%)
and here are some more superfoods which contain high amounts of amino acids . . .
HIGH PROTEIN FOODS
* Mesquite powder (approximately 20% protein)
* Brazil nut and hemp protein powder (contains nearly 50% protein)
* Incan berries (16% protein)
* Pumpkin seeds (about 24% protein and one of the best sources of tryptophan, which, by the way, is completely destroyed by heat)
In conclusion, as long as one is consuming greens, superfoods, seeds and a wide variety of plant foods, way more than adequate protein is supplied. If there is still concern about whether or not you are receiving enough protein, here are some symptoms of amino acid deficiency:
SYMPTOMS OF PROTEIN DEFICIENCY
* Lethargy or Fatigue
* Lack of Focus and Concentration
* Cravings for certain foods such as, caffeine, sweets, alcohol, starches, aspartame, marijuana, cocaine and tobacco
* Impaired wound healing (i.e. a cut or sore that just won’t heal)
* Edema (fluid collection) in your hands and feet or abdomen
* Decreased muscle mass