- Proteins are critically important
Proteins are large complex molecules that do important work in your body. Your cells use proteins to repair themselves. Protein creates the structure of bones, blood, hormones, and muscles. Protein even makes up the major parts of your organs and skin.
- Proteins contain 22 amino acids and your body doesn’t produce all of them
Proteins are made of thousands of little units called amino acids. It takes all 22 different acids to make a whole protein. All but 9 of the acids are produced by your body. These nine amino acids are called the “essential” acids. Since your body doesn’t produce them, you will need to get these from the foods that you eat.
- The amount of protein you need depends on your body weight
The recommended amount of protein you need is based on your body weight. Your weight in kilograms X .8 = the amount of protein you need to eat per day in grams. Most people are eating quite a bit more than that, and it’s been linked to problems like heart disease.
- Plant proteins may be hard to digest
Plant protein is actually more difficult for your body to digest and process than animal protein, especially when you just switch to them. Also, most vegetarian and vegan foods will lack the 9 essential acids needed to create a complete protein. A healthy vegan should consider eating a bit more protein than the recommended intake to make sure that all of it gets processed into your system.
- Consuming too much protein can lead to problems
While you may have digestion issues when it comes to plant-based proteins, their quality is much better compared to animal proteins. The acidic nature of animal-based proteins forces the alkaline-loving human body to try and balance itself out and the best way for a body to do so is to draw out calcium from the bones, which may lead to significant losses of calcium and osteoporosis.
- Finding the proteins is easier than you think
The first and most basic step towards finding a good protein balance in your vegan diet is very simple. It consists of thoroughly chewing your food. The saliva in your mouth will help break the protein down so you can access it more easily. It’s important to think of what foods have the best protein as well. Aside from beans, foods rich in protein include nuts as well as whole grain breads and pastas that hold up a significant amount of proteins.
- Fermented foods help with the digestion of protein
If you are not used to eating beans, nuts and soy foods, your body will need some time to adjust to these foods. In the meantime, integrate some fermented foods into your diet. This will help you intestines do a much better job. Foods like miso and tamari are easy for your body to digest and rich in protein at the same time.
- Use pickles to help your body absorb more protein
Pickled foods can help your body digest plant-based proteins better. The bacteria in unpasteurized pickled products will make your digestive system more efficient. You can find unpasteurized pickles in the Asian supermarkets or in the refrigerator section of your regular grocery store.
- Soy should not be the only source of protein in your diet
There is a lot of controversy over soy. There are many arguments in the “it’s good” column and just as many in the “it’s bad” column. For example, two separate studies at Harvard have produced the opposite results. One study concluded that regular soy consumption raised sperm count and the other one that it lowered the count. The jury is still out on it, which is why you shouldn’t rely on soy as your main source of protein or on any other one source for that matter
- Variety is key in a healthy vegan diet
Variety is the spice of life. This is also true for a balanced diet of any kind. Make sure you’re not relying on one of food for the majority of your protein. For example, adding some edamame to your diet isn’t going to hurt you if you’re also getting the protein from foods like beans and your favorite legumes.