The only nutritional element absent from the natural vegan diet is vitamin B12. No matter which diet you wish to follow, be sure you have all you need from the food you eat. It is very important to prevent protein deficiency, which is a serious health condition.
What is protein?
Protein is an essential component of the body, because the organs, muscle, brain, nerves, and immune system are all, to some degree comprised of protein. Name any body structure, and it probably has some protein in it. Since protein is one of the fundamental building blocks of the body, you need to ensure that you get enough of it in your diet.
You must know that every protein molecule is composed of amino acids. Twenty amino acids used in different combinations build the protein molecules found in food and in the body’s structures. Nine of these amino acids are essential, and supplied through the diet. The other eleven amino acids, the non-essential ones, can either be consumed in the diet or manufactured from other building blocks within the body.
Exploring the protein deficiency myth
Many people think that only animal foods give us high-quality protein. However, according to Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, author of On Death and Dying, there are four stages to a death. The first stage is denial, the second is anger, the third is bargaining, and the fourth is acceptance. Our society is grappling with the burning truth that meat, including poultry and fish, are products of cruelty to animals. These are responsible for ecological devastation and one of the most significant contributors to strokes, heart attacks, atherosclerosis, hypertension, male impotence, urinary diseases, osteoporosis, arthritis, diabetes, and cancer. Some of us have accepted these facts and stopped eating these foods completely, while others are in the stages of denial, anger, or bargaining.
Denial is the first stage, in which the majority of our society is. They know that animals are slaughtered to be turned into bacon, fish sandwiches, or hamburgers, but they prefer to switch off a part of their mind to become blind to this suffering. This switching off of the mind is known as psychic numbing, and we all do it in various circumstances. We desensitize ourselves as men to the plight of women; we desensitize ourselves as whites to the plight of people of color. We also desensitize ourselves as humans to the pain and death we bring to animals. Fundamentally good people go through life in a consensus trance, sharing a mass-held belief that goes unquestioned, and then immediately dismissed.
Anger is next stage, because sometimes the question comes up again, and the consensus trance shakes, where anger is a common reaction. That is how some people feel when a fundamental belief comes to a question all over again. They have what they think is truth and do not want to be confused by facts. Such a person is likely to close off dialogue and ignore messages, so if the agent of change persists in questioning the beliefs things could get ugly.
Bargaining is the stage where the crack in our tired old belief system starts to get wider, and the truth, as the light, starts to replace the dark, obsolete thinking. One of the most common examples of bargaining against the idea of giving up animal products is the false statement that humans need the high quality, complete protein found almost exclusively in eggs, dairy and the flesh of animals. This is just a myth, used as a shield to hold off complete change, a bargaining chip to obtain a compromise and so continue with the old, slightly modified, habit. Although it is true we do need to eat foods that contain essential amino acids (EAA), protein building blocks that cannot form in the body, it is not true that only animal products and one or two exceptional plant source foods contain all eight EAA. The truth is that all foods contain all the EAA. Even if only some of the information on plant foods is true, it is enough to say the myth is that only animal sources of protein contain all EAA's.
Acceptance is the last stage, because we have to accept that the myth that only animal foods give us the high-quality protein we need is just that – a myth. Moreover, plant sources of protein alone can provide adequate amounts of essential amino acids if we consume a variety of plant foods and we meet energy needs. In fact, we need to get about 10% of our consumed calories in the form of protein.
What is protein deficiency, actually?
The most obvious manifestations of a protein deficiency are reduced growth in young animals, and weight loss and reduced performance ability, endurance, and production in mature horses. Hair growth and shedding process slows down, resulting in a rough, coarse, unkempt appearance. The problem is that a protein deficiency may decrease food intake, which not only worsens the protein deficiency but also causes an energy deficiency. An energy deficiency contributes to the clinical signs and further worsens the protein deficiency. This is because most of the protein consumed will then be used to assist in meeting energy, not protein, needs.
Protein deficiencies are caused by various factors, such as inadequate protein in the diet, poorly digestible dietary protein (such as heat-damaged protein), and inadequate food intake. There is a number of ways you can become protein deficient. However, this is not easy. One way to become protein deficient is to get almost all of your calories from alcohol and sugar, which contain virtually no protein. Therefore, if you are an alcoholic sugar junkie, you may be in danger of protein deficiency. Another possible source of deficiency is that infants may receive only food they cannot digest.
Because of the sufficiency, or overabundance, of plant protein, animal products such as milk, cheese, and eggs as well as meat, fish, and poultry are unnecessary for adequate protein nutrition. Breast milk, incidentally, which has provided human infants with adequate protein for hundreds of thousands of years, provides 6% of calories as protein. This is far less than that of whole cow’s milk, which contains 22% of calories as protein.
Balance the food you eat
Many Americans gain weight in adulthood, increasing their risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, breathing problems, and other illness. Most adults should not gain weight, so if you are overweight and have one of these problems, you should try to lose weight. To stay at the same body weight, people must balance the amount of calories in the foods and drinks they consume with the amount of calories their body uses. Physical activity is an important way to use food energy besides using a healthy, balanced diet with enough proteins.
Most Americans spend much of their working day in activities that require little energy and at the same time they eat too much. At other times, they wish to lose the excess weight so they do not eat at all. You should just remember you must eat what your body needs, give it enough vitamins, proteins, and all you know comprises a healthy diet. After this, it is wise to burn calories and devote less time to sedentary activities like sitting, so try to spend more time in activities like walking to the store or around the block. The kinds and amounts of food people eat affect their ability to maintain their weight. High-fat foods contain more calories per serving than other foods and may increase the likelihood of weight gain, but even when people eat less high-fat food, they still can gain weight from eating too much of foods high in starch, sugars, or protein. That is why you must learn how to eat a variety of foods, emphasizing pasta, rice, bread, and other whole-grain foods as well as fruits and vegetables. These foods are filling, but much lower in calories than foods rich in fats or oils.
The pattern of eating may also be important, since snacks provide a large percentage of daily calories for many Americans. Maintaining weight without incurring a protein deficiency is equally important for older people who begin to lose weight as they age. Some of the weight that is lost is muscle, so maintaining muscle through regular activity helps to keep older people feeling well and helps to reduce the risk of falls and fractures they might experience.