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Are You Eating Enough Protein– Or Too Much?
by Gabriel Cousens, M.D. • Patagonia, AZ

Fact and Fear

The high versus low-protein controversy is more an issue of fear and confusion than fact.
The high-protein approach to nutrition was initially based on nineteenth century German research that asserted people need a minimum of 120 grams of protein per day. This high protein thinking lingers today, even though the requirement is now considered by conventional nutritionists to be 60-90 grams of protein each day. But expert research around the world suggests that the real protein requirement is closer to 25-35 grams, and less if the protein we eat comes from live foods. It is also interesting to note that the average protein concentration in mother’s milk is just 1.4 percent, sufficient to supply the human organism with all the essential amino acids and protein needed during the period of most rapid growth and brain development. Apes, considerably stronger that humans, live on a fruitarian diet that averages between 0.2 and 2.2 percent protein, equivalent to the protein concentration in human breast milk. These facts lead one to question: Just how much protein do we really need?

Excess Protein and Degenerative Disease

In terms of metabolic combustion, excess protein in the diet does not “burn cleanly.” It has been associated with creating an over-acid system due to the accumulation of toxic wastes such as uric acids and purines in the tissues. The late nutrition expert, Paavo Airola, Ph.D., pointed out that overeating protein “contributes to the development of many of our most common and serious diseases, such as arthritis, kidney damage, pyorrhea, schizophrenia, osteoporosis, atherosclerosis, heart disease, and cancer: and that a “high protein diet causes premature aging and lowers life expectancy.”

A high animal protein diet includes twenty times more phosphorous than calcium, which in turn depletes calcium resulting in osteoporosis and tooth decalcification. Studies strongly suggest that most people eat too much protein, and that excess protein, especially if it is meat protein, is detrimental to our health.

The Wendt doctrine, a result of thirty years of research by a family of German physician researchers, connects excess protein consumption to some forms of chronic degenerative disease. The Wendts were able to prove with electron microscope pictures, that excess protein clogs the basement membrane, which is a filtering membrane located between capillaries and cells. This membrane helps regulate the flow of nutrients and waste products between capillaries, cells, and fluid in the tissues they penetrate. The more excess protein there is in the diet, the more protein is lodged in the basement membrane. This makes it more difficult for proteins, other nutrients, including oxygen, to enter the cells and for waste to exit. Eventually, the basement membrane becomes so clogged with excess protein that the cells on the inside of the capillary walls begin to store and secrete the excess protein in insoluble forms that accumulate on the inside of the capillaries and arteriole walls, causing atherosclerosis, hypertension, adult-onset diabetes, and what the Wendts term capillarogenic tissue degeneration. This system-wide condition produces cellular malnutrition. The key understanding is that excess protein in the diet results in a protein storage disease that slowly chokes off the system. It is much harder to meditate when one is choking on a cellular level and the vitality of the system is slowly dying out. The Wendts found that this whole process could be reversed by stopping the intake of all animal protein for one to three months and by eating a low protein diet.

Protein Combining Is Unnecessary

One of the most unnecessary vegetarian practices is combining protein at meals. This inaccurate concept is that our system only utilizes protein in its complete state and we must eat all the amino acids at once to supply sufficient protein for our system to use metabolically. This fearful type of thinking comes from the idea that we do not store proteins and amino acids. The Wendt doctrine clearly proves that this is not true.

There Is Enough Protein in Vegan Foods

The biggest fear generated by pro-meat eaters and new vegetarians is about not getting enough protein. The real problem is just the opposite: We take in too much protein. According to the Max Planck Institute for Nutritional Research in Germany, there are many vegetable sources of protein that are superior or equal to animal proteins. The Planck Institute found complete vegetarian proteins—those that contain all eight essential amino acids—to be available from almonds, sesame, pumpkin, and sunflower seeds, soybeans, buckwheat, all leafy greens and most fruits. Fruits supply approximately the same percentage of complete protein as mother’s milk. Dr. Airola feels “it is virtually impossible not to get enough protein, provided you have enough to eat of natural, unrefined foods.”

In many cases, as our system changes with meditation, fasting, eating lighter, and increasing live food intake, our basement membranes become clear, more porous, and thinner, so the protein we take in moves into the cells more readily. Accordingly, our protein needs spontaneously drop. Perhaps over time we might find that the 1.4 percent protein--as found in mother’s milk-- is all we need.

Excerpted with permission from Spiritual Nutrition, 2005, North Atlantic Books.

Dr. Gabriel Cousens is an M.D., homeopathic physician, Diplomate in Ayurveda, family therapist and life-food nutritionist. An internationally celebrated spiritual teacher, author and lecturer, his books include: Rainbow Green Live Food Cuisine, Conscious Eating and Tachyon Energy: A New Paradigm in Holistic Healing, co-authored with David Wagner. See www.treeoflife.nu for more information.