5 Reasons to Power Up with Plant-Based Proteins

Hannah Depin wrote . . . . . . .

Around the world, most traditional diets are rooted in healthy plant-based meals. Just take a look at the Oldways Mediterranean, African, Asian, and Latin American Pyramids—all of them feature fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and legumes as their foundation. Yet today, plant-forward meals can raise a common concern among diners: is it possible to get enough protein on your plate without meat? The answer is a resounding yes!

To prove it, Meatless Monday is partnering with the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future. Their #PlantPowerProtein campaign shows that meatless meals are part of a healthy and balanced diet. What do we mean by “plant protein”? An abundance of beans, vegetables, nuts, and seeds fall into this category. Read on for the top five reasons to make room for them on your plate!

1. Beneficial nutrients

With plant protein, you get a bigger nutritional bang for your buck. Many plant proteins (like beans, chickpeas, nuts, and seeds) offer beneficial nutritional properties, in addition to protein. Walnuts, for example, contain omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and vitamin E. Or, consider that one cup of beans provides as much protein as two ounces of beef, with the added benefit of being cholesterol-free.

2. Lower risk of disease​

Although meat does provide protein, excessive consumption is associated with raised LDL cholesterol, clogged arteries, and risks such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Choosing plant protein in place of meat lowers the risk of these potential health problems.

3. It’s “complete​”

Some people worry that plants don’t provide “complete” protein, or protein that contains all the amino acids that your body needs. Although not every plant protein is complete in itself (for example, grain foods are higher in the amino acid methionine, while legumes and soy foods are higher in lysine), the liver can store amino acids, so it’s not necessary to worry about “combining” complementary protein foods at every meal. By eating a varied diet with different types of plant foods (grains, legumes, soy foods, etc.), you can make sure that your body is getting the proper amino acid balance. Rice with beans, hummus with pita bread, and peanut butter with whole wheat toast are three examples of complete protein combinations.

4. Good for the planet

Meat production can take a heavy toll on water, land, and fossil fuel supplies. Plant-based foods are less draining to natural resources. Save water, conserve energy, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by making the switch to plant protein at least once per week.

5. It’s delicious!

Recipes with plant-based proteins are varied, fresh, and delicious.

Source: Oldways

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Salad with Baked Tofu and Noodle

Ingredients

1 Tbsp gluten-free hoisin sauce
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp low-sodium tamari
1 red Thai chili, minced
350 g pkg extra-firm tofu, cubed

Salad

6 oz rice vermicelli noodles
2 Tbsp gluten-free hoisin sauce
2 Tbsp rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp white miso paste
1 Tbsp sesame oil
4 carrots, julienned or grated
2 cups packed shredded greens of choice
1/2 cup nori seaweed, roughly torn

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 425ºF (220ºC). Line large rimmed baking sheet with parchment.
  2. In large shallow dish, combine hoisin, maple syrup, tamari, and chili. Pat tofu dry and add to dish, gently mixing to coat. Spread tofu evenly onto prepared baking sheet. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until puffed and golden. Set aside to cool.
  3. Cook noodles according to package directions in boiling water. Drain and refresh with cold water.
  4. In small bowl, combine hoisin, vinegar, miso, and sesame oil to make the dressing.
  5. Divide noodles, carrots, baked tofu, greens, and seaweed into serving bowls. Mix in dressing and serve.

Makes 6 servings.

Source: Alive magazine

In Pictures: Food of Plant-based Chef Matthew Kenney

Crafting the Future of Food

Chef Matthew’s Restaurant Alibi in Australia

Good and Bad Acidic Foods

Background

People should be aware of some background information, regarding how acid and alkaline substances interact with the body, before deciding whether avoiding acidic foods is beneficial or not:

Measuring acidity and alkalinity

Measuring the pH values of foods and drinks is how people determine the acidity or alkalinity of them.

The pH values can range from 0 to 14 with distilled water having a pH of 7, or neutral. Other types of water with impurities or minerals may have a slightly different pH value.

Anything below pH7 is acidic while anything above ph7 is alkaline.

pH levels in the body

Different parts of the human body have different pH levels. Within the digestive system, pH values range from extremely acidic to slightly alkaline.

Differences in pH levels within the different organs and body fluids allow them to fulfill their particular function.

Human blood should be slightly alkaline with a pH ranging from 7.35 – 7.45.

A pH level in the blood that exceeds these limits in either direction will drastically impair metabolic processes inside the body.

The acid-ash hypothesis

The acid-ash hypothesis suggests that excessively acidic diets are bad for overall health.

Researchers based the hypothesis on the premise that foods that have been metabolized by the body leave behind a chemical residue known as ‘ash.’

When combined with body fluids, this ‘ash’ can be either acid-forming or alkali-forming, which could cause a reaction in the body.

According to the hypothesis, foods containing acid-forming substances lower the pH level of the blood, causing an accumulation of acid.

The body then compensates for this loss by leaching alkaline minerals, specifically calcium, from the bones and excreting them in the urine.

Supporters of the acid-ash hypothesis claim that regular and prolonged consumption of acid-forming foods increases mineral bone loss, thereby increasing the risk of conditions, such as osteoporosis.

Foods containing acid-forming substances include:

  • meat
  • grains
  • dairy
  • unsprouted beans
  • sunflower and pumpkin seeds
  • nuts
  • carbonated drinks
  • alcohol
  • coffee and other caffeinated drinks
  • sweeteners
  • refined table salt
  • tobacco

Foods that promote alkalinity, or ‘base-forming’ foods, are thought to prevent or counteract the effects of excess acid in the body. These foods include most fruits and vegetables.

Even citrus fruits, which are initially acidic, promote alkalinity once metabolized.

Proponents of the acid-ash hypothesis encourage regular pH testing of the urine as a means of monitoring the pH level of the body.

This information is then used to inform a person’s dietary choices.

What does the evidence say?

Knowledge of human physiology and evidence from clinical trials are both helpful in understanding the effects of acidic foods on blood pH and overall health.

Acid-base homeostasis

Supporters of the acid-ash hypothesis claim that diet affects blood pH level.

However, the body’s buffering system tightly regulates blood pH in a process known as acid-base homeostasis.

Examples of buffers include calcium stored in bone, proteins, or other mechanisms by which the body resists pH changes in the bloodstream.

The following two mechanisms are primarily involved in this process:

  1. Respiratory compensation: Breathing rate increases when acid levels are high. This breaks down the carbonic acid in the blood to water and carbon dioxide or CO2. The process, including the exhalation of the CO2, returns blood pH to normal levels.
  2. Renal compensation: The kidneys produce bicarbonate ions, which neutralize acid within the blood.

These two mechanisms are so effective at balancing acids and bases that it is almost impossible for a person’s diet to have any influence on blood pH.

A blood pH level that falls below pH 7.35 indicates a severe problem with lung or kidney function.

This condition, termed acidosis, causes a buildup of acid in the tissues and fluids and can be fatal if left untreated.

Clinical trials

One major prediction of the acid-ash hypothesis is that taking alkalizing salts will directly reduce the acidity of the blood.

This reduction would stop the body’s need to leach calcium from the bones, meaning that it would excrete less in the urine. Several studies have investigated this claim by measuring whether alkalizing salts reduce urinary calcium excretion.

According to a 2013 review, initial studies did indeed show that taking the alkalizing salt potassium reduced the amount of calcium in the urine. Researchers then interpreted this as support for the acid-ash hypothesis.

It was later realized, however, that a decrease in the amount of calcium leached from the bones was not responsible for this drop in urinary calcium. Instead, this was because potassium blocks the absorption of excess calcium in the blood.

The lower the calcium levels in the blood, the less calcium available to be filtered out into the urine.

Other clinical trials cited in the review directly investigated whether taking alkalizing salts benefits bone health. Initially, two short studies suggested that these salts may indeed maintain healthy bones and reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

However, more rigorous, longer-term, randomized controlled trials (RCTs) failed to show any benefit of alkalizing salts. As a result, the scientific consensus is that an alkaline diet does not benefit bone health with the initial positive results likely being due to random chance or a placebo effect.

Acidic foods and gastric upset

Another reason people may choose to avoid acidic foods is due to concerns that they may cause or aggravate certain digestive disorders, such as acid reflux gastroesophageal reflux disease, otherwise known as GERD.

While acidic fruits and vegetables, such as citrus fruits, can irritate upper gastric disorders, these conditions are also likely to be exacerbated by foods high in fats.

The following foods are known triggers of acid reflux and GERD:

High-fat foods

  • Fried
  • Oily and greasy
  • Full-fat dairy
  • Animal fats and lard
  • Fatty cuts of lamb, pork or beef
  • Creamy sauces or salad dressings

Acidic foods

  • Oranges
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Grapefruits
  • Pineapples
  • Tomatoes

Takeaway

Contrary to the acid-ash hypothesis, there is no evidence to suggest that acidic foods are harmful to health. It is simply not possible to alter the pH of the blood through diet alone. A blood pH that is excessively acidic or alkaline indicates a serious underlying medical issue.

Despite this, so-called alkalizing diets consisting mainly of fruits and vegetables are abundant in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. People can achieve many benefits for their overall health by increasing their intake of these foods. However, these benefits are not related to alterations in blood pH.

People who are most likely to benefit from a reduced-acid diet are those for whom acidic foods are believed to trigger an upper gastric disorder or symptoms.

Source: Medical News Today

Over-the-counter Drugs, Dietary Supplements Can Lead to Inaccurate Lab Test Results of Patients

Over-the-counter (OTC) drugs and dietary supplements are widely used and popular, with US households spending an average of almost USD 350 annually on OTC products. In 2006 an average of EUR 67.50 was spent per person on OTC products in Germany.

The use of various OTC drugs and dietary supplements is highly prevalent in Europe and patients are often not willing to disclose this information to laboratory staff and the ordering physician as a survey published in Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine, published by De Gruyter in association with the European Federation of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (EFLM), shows.

The study reports on the results of a survey of patients in 18 European countries which shows that those taking OTC products and dietary supplements are not aware of the potential effects on laboratory test results they may have. In addition, patients do not believe that they need to disclose this use to medical and/or laboratory staff.

The study shows that dietary supplements and OTC drugs are more frequently used by middle-aged patients – especially women – with the most common being multivitamins, multiminerals, cranberry and aspirin. All of these compounds, if consumed shortly before blood sampling, may cause changes in lab test results, thus leading to interpretation difficulties and possibly incorrect diagnoses.

Although more data is needed about the frequency of the consumption of various dietary products, vitamins or OTC drugs, the authors believe that a multifaceted approach is necessary to draw attention to the issue using educational interventions which target both healthcare professionals and patients.

“We hope that our survey helps to raise awareness about this need to educate patients about the potential effect of OTC drugs and dietary supplements on lab test results, and we would encourage clinicians and lab staff to engage more with their patients and ask them direct questions about the use of various self-prescribed products,” said Professor Ana-Maria Simundic of the Sveti Duh Clinical Hospital in Zagreb, Croatia, and the corresponding author of the article.

Source: De Druyter


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