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Beware high protein foods

High protein foods are recommended by many "heath gurus" these days, who promote a high protein low carb diet as an effective way to lose weight.

Such diets, including the Atkins Diet and the South Beach Diet, do seem to work. But only in the short term. In the long term, dieters not only regain the weight that they had lost, but also put their health at risk from eating excessive amounts of high protein foods.

A friend of mine once followed such a diet and his typical meals consisted of fruits, vegetables, cheese, 200g of canned tuna for lunch and a 250g beef steak for dinner.

He cut out all simple and complex carbohydrates - meaning completely stopped eating rice, bread, pasta and other carbohydrate foods.

Such diet plans have been around for many decades and they gained renewed popularity since the mid-1990s. More recently, with the Glycemic Index theory, people have become even more fearful of eating carbohydrates and have turned to more high protein foods.

The ill-logic of high protein diets

The logic, or illogic, of diet plans based around high protein foods is not difficult to understand. One such plan - developed in Britain and promoted in Singapore at one time as "The Magical Diet" - had the following elements:
  1. Eat your usual “junk” foods – including sausages, ice cream, processed chesse and other high protein foods that contain harmful, some potentially cancer-causing, chemical additives – but just don’t go overboard.

  2. “Wash out” the junk by eating plenty of beetroot, a food that is known in natural health circles to have “cleansing” properties.

    Incidentally, there is an Asian equivalent to beetroot – white radish or daikon – which has similar cleansing properties. This is why the Japanese serve tempura (deep-fried foods) with grated white radish to wash out fat. But the Chinese and Japanese know better than to eat excessive amounts of white radish because that would weaken the body.

  3. Minimise your intake of carbohydrates which the body needs. By depriving your body of what it really needs, it turns to burning up stored fat and so results in weight loss.

Ill effects

And so the diet works. But at what cost?

One of the chief dangers of eating excessive protein is kidney failure. I have a friend who used to eat incredible amounts of meat, as much as half a chicken or duck in one meal and I was not surprised that his kidneys failed. This is because the digestion of protein produces uric acids, which the kidneys need to eliminate and too much high protein foods overwork the kidneys.

The acids produced by protein-rich foods is alao a major contributor to osteoporosis, due to calcium loss in the bones. The body can only tolerate slight variations in the acid-alkaline balance and when the body environment becomes overly acidic, the person will die. To prevent this, the body dissolves bone calcium, which is alkaline, to balance the acids.

Worldwide, it is clear that the people with the highest protein intake also have the highest rates of osteoporosis. Topping the list are the Eskimos, who eat an almost pure meat diet. Next comes the Americans and the Europeans. Thin "under nourished" people in rural parts of Asia have much stronger bones than big, well-fed Americans.

Milk is widely recommended by nutritionists as a food that might prevent osteoporosis. Yet the people in milk producing countries like Denmark, England, Wales, New Zealand and others have the highest rates of osteoporosis - because milk is also rich in protein. In addition, milk has been linked with a long list of other health problems, from asthma and allergies to diabetes and cancer. Read my article about the harm of milk, dairy and other high protein foods.

In addition, high protein foods have been associated with high rates of cancer, heart disease and many other degenerative diseases. According to the China Health Project, which is one of the biggest nutritional studies ever undertaken, American men who typically eat plenty of high protein foods have a 1700 percent greater incidence of heart disease than Asians mostly grains and vegetables.

Complex carbohydrates

Rather than looking for short-cut weight loss deits high in protein, the more sensible way to lose weight is by eating healthily and leading an active lifestyle. 2. Vegetables, including vegetable protein such as beans and bean products like tofu and tempeh. This means eating a diet rich in grains and vegetables, which are complex carbohydrates.

In recent years, many people have become fearful of eating carbohydrates because they have been confused into believing that carbohydrates cause weight gain. Click here to understand why you will not get fat on complex carbohydrates like whole grains and vegetables.

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