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Vegan Health & Nutrition - Where Do You Get Your Protein?

If you’re vegan, then you’ve heard “where do you get your protein from?” just about as often as “don’t you miss cheese?” or “If you were on a desert island, would you eat a pig or your own teeth first?” Those questions kind of go with the vegan territory.

So, at the outset of this article, let’s get this straight that as a vegan, protein is of course vitally important and yes, vegans are perfectly able to get enough of it. By way of validation, your author is a vegan and is absolutely not drafting this for you to read via a Ouija board courtesy of a fatal protein deficiency. Just so we have that cleared up.

The real question should be about, again as vegans, the effective amino acid profile of the foods they eat. Amino acids and protein are kind of intimately entwined with one another. That may be new to you, so we get onto that distinction between the two in a short while.

First up, let’s look at a little bit more as to what exactly protein is and what it does.

Human bodies, like all organic bodies, have protein at the heart of every cell structure. Protein is responsible for the manufacture of bones, muscles enzymes, hormones, insulin and blood as well as helping damaged tissue to repair and recover. So, all in all, pretty darn vital to having a good day as a carbon-based life-form.

Protein sources are abundant and readily available, including of course to vegans. Some well-known and lesser-known examples are nuts, beans, lentils, quinoa, artichokes, green peas and many, many more. The list truly goes on and as a savvy reader, you know how to delve further into that sort of detail further if you wish. In contrast, sanctioning the killing of perfectly innocent animals for a misconception about animal protein intake sources, is, let me suggest, absolutely perfectly not ok.

A word to the wise about protein over-load.

So, here’s the deal. I’d love to have a swimming pool. My mornings would be so much more relaxed and come to that, my evening too. There’s no question to me that this would benefit me. That said, living in a swimming pool close on twenty-four is going to be a bad, skin-crinkling thing.

It is of course common sense – too much protein is going to be a bad deal for you. And yes, yes it is. Evidence of this particular over-indulgence causes weight-loss, constipation and halitosis. That’s some first date just right there. Other risks include, in no particular order, dehydration, cancer, calcium loss heart disease and kidney damage. Any one of those is going to mess up your day to a greater or lesser extent.

So maybe the cry of “where do you get your protein from?” might want to morph into “where do you get a reasonable amount of your protein from?”

So, the picture is set for protein, what it is and what it does. Yet there’s more to this still as we need to delve into the realm of amino acids.

Amino acids are the brick and mortar of protein and are absolutely vital to biological health. They are at the core of protein and after water, they make up the greatest part of our body weight. Our bodies need amino acids to help protein repair damaged tissues, build new cells and provide cell structure, carry oxygen around the body and strengthen our immune system.

As acids go, you truly don’t want to be caught short with these guys. Not only do they build up the very physical fabric of what we are, they also contribute to our feeling of well-being and also our clarity of thought and cognition.

Drilling down further into the land of amino acids, you will discover that there are twenty types of amino acids, divided into two types: non-essential and essential (sometimes referred to as indispensable.) Your body, awesome entity that it is, is self-reliant in manufacturing eleven of those: known as non-essential as your own biology does the grunt work of manufacturing these unaided. So, all’s sweet in that regards.

However, and of course there just had to be one of those at this juncture, there are 9 amino acids that your body can’t manufacture and consequently looks for outside help to do so.

Biology time. They are:

Histidine: anti-inflammatory and anti-infection focused, it also helps with managing allergy reactions.

Isoleucine: helps the body and muscles to recover from the exertion of physical endurance activity.

Leucine: associated with energy levels.

Lysine: another energy focussed amino acid, also associated with anti-viral activity.

Methionine: plays an important role in the processing of other protein for the body’s benefit.

Phenylalanine: boosts energy, mental focus and feelings of well-being.

Threonine: helps the central nervous system stay in good shape.

Tryptophan: known to have influence on mood, memory and how we interact with others.

Valine: required primarily for tissue / muscle repair.

So those are the essential amino acids. And that outside help? That’s where your diet swings into action as it needs that external help.

And to add to that, unlike fat or carbohydrates, the human body is no good at storing up excess essential amino acids. So, there’s no delving back for them, they need to be topped up daily. Consequently, your essential amino acids intake needs to be a daily concern because there’s no storage reservoir for your body