Where Do We Get Proteins From?
In the first lesson we will look at what is the optimal diet for people and why the term a raw diet can be misleading.
Often when people are first introduced to the term a raw diet, they assume that it means to just eat typically cooked food, without cooking it. Immediately they begin to ask:
How do I eat raw cereals / legumes / potatoes, etc?
To resolve this confusion, I am inviting you on an imaginary walk through nature.
Before our walk, let’s acknowledge a couple of things:
- each species is attracted to its natural food in its raw, unprocessed form
- each species is equipped with its anatomy to obtain and digest its natural food in an efficient and relatively easy way
With this foundation of understanding, we may embark on our imaginary walk.
We come across:
- A rabbit – does the sight of a rabbit make you salivate and do you get a desire to tear it apart? Or rather, are you attracted to pet the rabbit?
A wolf would have a different answer to yours, but since you do not belong to a pack of wolves, you do not have the same appetite or nutritional needs. Wolves and similar predators are far different from humans in their anatomical and physiological characteristics that dictate their optimal food.
The features of natural carnivores are:
See in the dark for the sake of efficient hunting,
Don’t see colors, unlike the fruit-eating species,
Have claws and canines for easy prey killing,
Drink blood before they eat their victim,
Have short bowels so that high-fat and high-protein fiberless foods could pass quickly,
Have the ability to synthesize vitamin C because they evolved on a diet that lacks this vitamin.
I hope that we have established significant differences between the biological nature of humans and carnivores, so we can check out our next potential food.
- A field of grains – Are you attracted to collecting grains and eating them? What would happen if you tried that? Sticky gluten or similar sticky proteins in grains would just form something like a chewing gum in your mouth, which you would spit out.
However, birds would have a different experience because birds also have a different anatomical structure of the digestive system. Unlike humans, birds have an organ before the stomach, called gizzard that allows digestion of raw grains. Humans are not equipped with this organ and cannot digest grains without processing them. Just having to process something to make it edible, indicates that it is not our natural food.
The features of grains are:
- Do not have vitamin C,
- Are not the fruits of the plants, but the seeds of the plants,
- Contain antinutrients with which plants naturally defend their seeds,
- They are full of hard-to-digest starch and sticky proteins such as gluten and avenins.
So if we have passed the grains as well, we go further in our walk and reach the next point.
- A grass lawn – if it is neat and tidy, it will most likely attract you to stretch yourself on it and watch the clouds. 🙂
But it is very unlikely that you will get the urge to eat the grass, and your anatomy wouldn’t help you in that regard either.
Notice how horses, cows, sheep, and similar ruminants all have long necks that allow them to lower their mouths down to the grass. In addition, they have four stomachs that allow them to digest cellulose foods. You will agree, people have completely different anatomies, and it is natural that we do not see grass as food.
Granted, grass has been put down as an inedible option, so we go on and get to…
- A field of root vegetables – unless you already knew this was a field of root vegetables, it would be hard for you to find this out, since all those roots are not visible above the surface of the Earth. And even if you knew, you would hardly be attracted to dig those roots out and eat them.
Unlike you, a pig for an instance, would cherish this game of digging roots. But even if you dug out a root, what do you think? Would it really attract you to eat it, covered with earth and without attractive shape and color?
You can find far better…
And so we passed the roots and we finally reach…
- A fruit tree – imagine a tree of your favorite fruit. Imagine standing in front of this tree, looking at its treetop. Fresh and ripe fruits are visible among the green leaves and you can almost taste the sweet juicy flavors.
You are probably aware that children feel real excitement at the view of a fruit tree, or better yet, the opportunity to climb a tree and enjoy its sweet fruits.
The evidence that you are a fruit eater is:
- Your anatomy gives you the perfect opportunity to climb a tree relatively easily,
- The dexterity of your hands is ideal for picking fruits,
- The dental formula of your teeth is perfectly suited to bite on fruits,
- Your long and curvy intestines allow easy passing of only foods rich in water and fiber,
- All of your cells prefer simple sugars as fuel,
- High water content in fruit hydrates your body cells,
- Fruit provides enjoyment when eaten as it is a nutritional support to your body without harmful ingredients and metabolic end products.
And so we have come to the very food that attracts us in its natural form, gives us pleasure and the necessary nutrients. In addition to fruits, we can also be attracted to young, tender greens, as well as nuts and seeds.
As for the nuts and seeds, we can notice that they are found in shells that are not so easy to open. As many nuts and seeds we would get with the time and effort we would be willing to devote to opening them with bare hands, is an appropriate amount to eat. In the presence of our preferred food – fruit – which requires minimal effort and time to eat, nuts and seeds would play a small role in our diet.
I hope this lesson has taken you a step further in understanding what is the optimal diet for people.
- It sure does! Yet still… what about the saying One should eat the food of the area where one lives?
Let’s address this topic in the next lesson.
Probably one of the most common questions, if not the most common question in relation to the plant based diet is Where do you get your protein from? While the actual picture of the standard diet effects requires the opposite question and a reason for concern: How to avoid eating too much protein?
The word protein originates from the Greek word protos meaning of great importance or first. The origin of the word gives the impression that protein is of great importance. With the longtime belief that protein is only present in animal based food, plus meat industry marketing, we can understand where all this concern of getting enough protein comes from.
However, let’s acknowledge that the mere etymological meaning of the word protein points out that proteins are molecules that are part of every cell. In other words, all foods contain proteins. However, there is a huge difference in the protein quality and their effect on the body.
A living organism actually uses amino acids, building blocks of proteins, for growth, development and recovery of tissues. The most efficient way of getting amino acids is from fresh fruits and veggies. Fruit ripening is a process that divides proteins into amino acids, making the building substances for the living organism ready in the optimal form for usage.
Cooking on the other hand renders proteins coagulated. Heating proteins first brings about breaking down amino acids links, and after this, digestive-enzyme-resistant amino acid crossed links are created. This creation of amino acid crossed links results in coagulated proteins, meaning that the protein chain becomes tangled by the links that are resistant to our digestive enzymes. This results in the protein decay inside the intestines, which can manifest in unpleasant-odor and gas.
Now that we understand that the optimal amino acid source is fresh fruits and veggies, let’s investigate do these plant foods contain enough protein to satisfy human needs?
5-6% calories in fruit come from protein, just as much there is in the human breast milk. Let’s remind ourselves that protein is utilized for growth and development, so if for a human baby in the period of the most rapid growth, 5-6% calories from protein is enough, the same percentage is sufficient for all the future phases in life when growth is not that dominant.
The breast milk of other species have different protein contents, and thus they are inadequate food for the human species.
Vegetables have a greater percentage of calories from proteins, but in general fewer calories. Nuts and seeds generally contain more fat and proteins than fruits and veggies, making them more difficult to digest. This is why nuts and seeds are best eaten in moderation.
An adequate calorie intake through a fresh fruit and veggie diet, with small amounts of nuts and seeds, provides about 10% calories from proteins which is sufficient. Modern western diets are high protein diets that result in many health issues: osteoporosis, kidney stones, kidney insufficiency, arthritis, damage of blood vessel inner walls, tumor growths, and low energy level.
And so we are left with a question and concern: How do we avoid too much protein? We get the answer in our natural diet.
- Alright, but this might apply just fine to someone who doesn’t train, but what about athletes and those who are very active and /or want to build bigger muscles? They cannot successfully train on merely 10% calories from proteins from fresh fruits and veggies. Isn’t this so?
Nope. 🙂 Now it is time for the next lesson!