December 1, 2015

Make the Right Decision about Protein

Many people are becoming enamored with protein and eating more protein that some should eat. Because of the misinformation put out by many doctors, registered dietitians, and nutritionists, about avoiding fat and overloading us with carbohydrates, more people are moving toward more protein and away from fats and carbohydrates. This is often to their own detriment and is causing some people additional health problems.

First, excess protein can be converted to fat by many people. This is because your body can only use a certain amount of protein each day. If you take in too much protein, you may gain weight. Each gram of protein has 4 calories. If you take in 100 grams of protein, but your body can only use 50 grams of it, your body will store the extra 200 calories' worth of protein as fat. Doing this daily can cause you to take in 1,400 extra calories per week, resulting in a weight gain of almost 2 pounds per month.

Second, too much protein can damage your liver. An excessive protein intake can be harmful to your liver, brain and nervous system. When you eat protein, your body produces ammonia, a toxin that your liver normally makes harmless. Eating too much protein over a long period of time can cause your liver to become overworked, allowing ammonia and other toxic substances to build up in your bloodstream. This can lead to hepatic encephalopathy, a condition marked by a decline in brain and nervous system function.

Third, protein can increase your levels of cholesterol. Many high-protein foods, particularly from animal sources, contain an abundance of cholesterol. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute recommends limiting your cholesterol intake to no more than 200 milligrams per day, but a 6-ounce broiled porterhouse steak has 126 milligrams of cholesterol and half a roasted chicken breast has 83 milligrams of cholesterol. Eating too much animal protein can cause you to exceed the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute's guidelines, putting you at risk for dangerous conditions.

Fourth and the final problem is protein in your urine. Protein in your urine may be an early sign of kidney disease. Proteinuria means protein in your urine. Your kidneys make urine by cleaning extra fluid from your blood. Your kidneys also help prevent the loss of things that your body needs, like protein. Proteinuria happens when your kidneys let protein leak into your urine. Protein in your urine may also be called albuminuria or microalbuminuria.

A very tiny amount of protein in your urine may be common from time to time, but a larger amount of protein in your urine may be an early sign of kidney disease. If proteinuria is not controlled, the increased amount of protein in your urine can lead to more kidney damage. Over time, this can cause your kidneys to fail, and you may need dialysis or a kidney transplant. If you find and treat the problem that is causing your proteinuria, you may be able to stop or slow down the damage. Testing is the only way to determine if you have this.

The Institute of Medicine recommends that protein-rich foods represent 10 to 35 percent of the calories you take in. The average woman should get about 46 grams of protein a day and men should get about 56 grams of protein daily. Active people need more protein than sedentary people, so if you engage in moderate to vigorous exercise on a regular basis, talk to your doctor to see if you should increase your protein intake.

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