There are a number of ‘facts’ out there surrounding protein intake and health that people seem to hear, believe, and then preach. We’re going to take a look at a few of them and see if they hold true…
Damage the Kidneys
High protein diets can cause kidney damage to individuals with preexisting kidney issues. People with kidney damage often need to reduce their protein intake due to poor kidney function. People with healthy kidneys however will experience no kidney dysfunction or stress if they decide to eat a protein rich diet. When dietary protein is increased the Glomerular Filtration Rate (rate at which the kidneys filter blood) increases and somehow it was spread that high protein intake puts additional stress on the kidneys. This is false, the GFR increases in people that consume higher protein diets but that just means their kidneys are filtering more blood, not that there is any additional stress placed upon them.
There was a study done on bodybuilders who consumed 2.8 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight they weighed. That is equivalent to a 150lb person consuming 190 grams of protein daily and there were zero negative effects shown. Athletes have been consuming high protein diets for decades and are considered to be the epitome of health and vitality. They have lean muscular physiques and consume more protein and fewer carbohydrates than you might think…
If you read The Benefits of an Alkaline Body you will understand metabolic acidosis with ease. ‘They’ say that high protein diets cause metabolic acidosis, which can be true, but it’s unlikely when the appropriate balance is maintained. Protein intake has an acidifying effect on the body so it’s important to balance your protein with an adequate amount of vegetables, especially the leafy green ones. High protein diets have shown to cause acidity in the body but only when protein is consumed by itself. Make sure to have some veggies with your meals in order to balance your pH levels and maintain your alkalinity.
Bad For Bones
It’s been said that high protein diets are harmful to bone health and calcium status in the body. The truth is when calcium intake is insufficient while protein intake is high it can have a negative effect on bone health. However, when calcium intake and vitamin D levels are sufficient a high protein diet has actually shown to be beneficial for bone health. So assuming you’re taking in an adequate amount of calcium and vitamin D each day, a high protein diet will actually help your bones stay strong.
Colon Cancer & Heart Disease
High protein diets, especially ones rich in red meat cause colon cancer and heart disease. This is also not true; the diets that have often been studied when colon cancer and heart disease are linked to high protein intake have been high in fatty cuts of red meat. People who eat fattier cuts of red meat tend to neglect foods like vegetables and fruit. Research actually suggests that the low intake of vegetables and fruit is responsible for higher cancer risk and not red meat ingestion.
It’s important that when you hear generic statements like “protein causes kidney damage and cancer” that you look a little further into the source and studies done before you take it as fact. I have been on a high protein diet for years and I know others that have as well for much longer than I have and they are extremely healthy individuals. In Greek protein means ‘of first importance’ so if you’re going to neglect any food group make sure it’s not protein.