Eating a diet high in protein seems to be the trend of the moment. With people shying away from simple carbohydrates such as white bread, potatoes, and rice, these foods are being replaced with higher protein choices. Although there are advantages to consuming a high protein diet such as an increased sense of fullness and more stability of blood sugar levels, several recent studies have shown that eating a protein intensive diet could have negative health effects. Can you eat too much protein?
Surprisingly, the average, non-vegetarian American consumes a diet which exceeds the daily recommended amount of protein. This is particularly true for body builders, weight lifters, and other athletes who may consume up to four to five times the recommended protein allowance. To determine how much protein you need on a daily basis, simply multiply your weight by 0.37 which will give you the number of grams required to maintain lean body mass and promote a healthy immune system.
What are the consequences of too much protein? Consuming quantities of protein more than thirty percent above the recommended daily allowances has the potential to cause health problems according to some studies. Some of the health consequences of too much protein include:
Increased stress on the kidneys
Because the kidney are responsible for filtering proteins, it’s thought that excessive protein consumption could put additional stress on the kidneys. Studies have shown that persons who have mild impairment of kidney function may have their kidney function further reduced by a high protein diet. Fortunately, the Nurses’ Healthy Study conducted on women in 2000 showed that high protein intake didn’t appear to be associated with a decline in kidney function as long as the kidneys were normal to begin with. This suggests that if you have any evidence of decreased kidney function, it’s probably best to limit protein consumption on a daily basis. Even though normal kidneys may be able to handle a higher protein load, too much protein in the diet can lead to dehydration since processing a high protein load causes loss of water in the urine. If you do eat a high protein diet, be sure to drink lots of water.
Studies have shown that older women who eat large amounts of meat tend to have a higher rate of bone density loss than women who don’t. This occurs because excessive protein intake results in the extra amino acids being converted into organic acids. When the kidney processes these organic acids, it does so by pushing calcium into the urine which results in loss of critical bone preserving calcium. Even though a high protein diet may promote osteoporosis, eating too little protein can have the same effect. Moderation is the key to good bone health.
Some recent studies show that a low protein diet may help to protect against certain types of cancer. This may occur because a diet low in protein lowers levels of a plasma growth factor known as IGF-1. High IGF-1 levels have been associated with increased risk of a variety of cancers including breast, colon and prostate cancer. Persons who consume a lower protein diet have been shown to have lower levels of IGF-1 which further supports the possibility that a high protein intake could increase the risk of certain types of cancer.
Can you eat too much protein for your own good health? Consuming levels beyond a certain amount probably won’t give you any additional benefit unless your aim is to build large muscles via a bodybuilding program. The best plan of action may be to calculate your suggested daily intake of protein (0.37 times your body weight) and stay within that range. To promote overall better health and reduce your risk of disease, decrease the amount of protein you get from animal sources and add more vegetable sources of protein such as beans, lentils, and nuts. This is also a good general recipe for better health and longevity.
As is known that excess of anything is never good, be it love or hatred, the same goes true for healthy nutrients as well because they may keep your body fit and strong but only if taken in the right dosage, which if exceeded, can lead to the aforementioned diseases and ailments. For example, people may prefer opti greens 50 over raw vegetables that are more authentic, but if you exceed the its consumption, then there are going to be long lasting side effects in the body.