Protein plays a major role in keeping you healthy and fit during a survival scenario. The amino acids content of protein is necessary to keep you in good shape and maintain your sense sharp. A proper nutrition plan is especially critical during a lockdown scenario.
🚫 The lack of protein and amino acids affects us all
Earlier this year, beset with growing ill health, I began to look at my diet, hoping to be able to find a way, through nutrition, to feel better. For years I’ve enjoyed running as a form of exercise, but for several months prior, I’d been having recurring running injuries that left me almost crippled for days at a time—extreme soreness around hip joints, swollen, sore knees.
At the same time, I wasn’t sleeping well and was becoming cranky more often. I felt tired often and had been getting what seemed like more than my share of colds and flu. Something just wasn’t right, and I had a feeling it had to do with my diet. It turned out I was correct.
I’d also been gaining weight and had begun dieting, or rather, starving myself trying to get my weight down. This included skipping whole meals and skimping on what I ate at other times. The problem was, I got hungry more often with the dieting and still was having much difficulty losing weight.
🥩 High-quality protein and amino acids
Checking an edition of the Recommended Dietary Allowances, which is published by the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences, I discovered I was supposed to be getting about 60 grams of high-quality protein a day. I was actually getting half that or even less on some days, and this had been going on for some months.
This discovery led me to an ongoing study of protein and its health benefits, which continues to this day. I have discovered that protein plays an extremely important role in maintaining overall health and preventing and eliminating diseases.
Needless to say, I have greatly increased my consumption of protein-rich foods, especially those foods containing the essential amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein used for myriad body functions to maintain health and eradicate disease. I am also taking some protein supplements to boost my intake of this vital nutrient.
As soon as I began a significant increase in my protein intake—I now get 100 grams or more a day—I noticed an immediate improvement of my health. I have been on my current dietary regimen for several months now and am feeling much better. I am running farther than I ever did before, and my running injuries have disappeared. I sleep better and am much more even-tempered. And I’ve lost weight.
I’m convinced boosting my protein intake has helped me. But I’m not recommending this for everyone. You must determine what is best for you. It’s best to consult your doctor before significantly changing your diet. But you may find you could benefit from getting an adequate amount of high-quality protein in your diet, especially if you are physically active. What that amount is will vary from person to person, depending on body mass (weight), lifestyle, etc.
🍖 The old battle with protein
The lack of quality protein and amino acids is not a new discovery, and we have been knowing about these issues for a while. What changed over the years is the number of protein supplements available over the counter.
Peter W.R. Lemon, Ph.D., in the article, “Influence of Dietary Protein and ‘Data’ Energy Intake on Strength Improvement” in Sports Nutrition, Volume 2, Number 14, April 1989, writes:
“Recent evidence suggests that the current U.S National Research Council’s recommended dietary allowance for protein may be insufficient for some athletes. The gains in muscle strength and size induced by strength (weight) training appear to be enhanced by protein intakes that exceed the currently recommended allowances.
Insufficient intake of food energy can increase protein requirements. Therefore, dieting may decrease the effectiveness of strength programs for individuals consuming what otherwise would be adequate dietary protein.”
Lemon also states that “…recent data obtained using new experimental techniques indicate that dietary protein/amino acid needs may, in fact, be increased by regular exercise training. Increased protein need with exercise could occur directly, as a result of changes in amino acid metabolism, or indirectly, as a result of insufficient energy intake.”
For technical reasons, the author states, the protein recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day for adults “is only an approximation and is based on data from relatively sedentary individuals!’
“Fifteen years ago, researchers demonstrated that a protein intake of 125 percent of the RDA was sufficient to meet the needs of sedentary subjects. However, despite adequate total energy intake, this amount of protein was insufficient when these individuals began an endurance (cycling) training program.”
💚 Recommendation for protein intake
While studies continue on protein requirements for athletes and other individuals and the debate continues, Lemon recommends that athletes undergoing strength training to increase muscle size and weight may benefit by consuming 150 to 250 percent of the RDA or about 1.2 to 2.0 grams per kilogram of body weight per day. Note that we are talking about athletes engaged in strength training.
Protein requirements for different adults and for children will vary. But here is evidence that increasing one’s protein intake beyond the RDAs may be beneficial—at least in those people with more physically active lifestyles.
But protein is needed by your body for much more than physical endurance and strength. As Carlson Wade notes in his Amino Acids Book, What You Need To Know:
“Next to water, protein is the most plentiful substance in your body. If all the water were squeezed out of you, about half your dry weight would be protein. About a third of the protein is in the muscle, about a fifth in the bone and cartilage, and about a tenth in the skin. The rest in the other tissues and body fluids.”
💓 Amino acids and their importance to survival
The “building blocks of protein” are the amino acids. There are quite a few of these amino acids, but there are eight to 10, depending on which source you consult, which your body cannot produce from the foods you eat and which you must consume in certain foods to obtain.
Amino acids are found in all protein foods, but they have to be “complete,” or in complementary balance and in sufficient quantities and potencies, Wade states, so that they can work together in building and maintaining health.
All the amino acids can be obtained from plants—that is, vegetarian—sources, but they are more easily obtained in certain animal foods, such as milk, eggs, meat, and fish.
For those people who prefer a vegetarian diet, it may be necessary to combine certain foods in order to obtain a complete protein intake.
Certain foods, such as eggs, meat, and milk, which have proteins that are similar to the amino acid content of human tissues, are rated as having high nutritive value. Your body breaks down the proteins it gets to utilize the amino acids. If you do not get enough amino acids, your body begins to consume the amino acids in your tissues to meet its requirements.
Recommended reading: Protein, The Foundation Of A Survival Diet
🏆 Top 10 essential amino acids:
The ten important amino acids which are considered essential and which your body cannot manufacture, and some of their functions are:
Valine – needed for mental vigor, muscle coordination, and smooth functioning of the nervous system.
Lysine – required for most body growth factors, blood nourishment, and antibody formation to fight disease organisms.
Tryptophan – for rich, red blood, youthful skin, and healthy hair. It helps in utilizing the B-complex vitamins and promotes better digestion as well as acting as an emotional stabilizer, stress reducer and sleep aid,
Cystine – supplies an appreciable amount of insulin needed by the pancreas for the assimilation of sugars and starches. Plays a role in body proteins such as hair and helps destroy damaging chemicals in the body.
Phenylalanine – required by the thyroid gland. Promotes healthy nerve activity and mental equilibrium. Acts as a powerful pain reliever.
Arginine – male seminal fluid contains as much as 80 percent of this substance. Helps detoxify poisonous wastes and filter out toxic substances. Believed to stimulate the release of human growth hormone (HGH) by the pituitary gland in the brain. It helps the body burn fat.
Glutamic Acid – influences brain health and helps correct personality disorders.
Histidine – stimulates the auditory nerve for good hearing.
Threonine – needed for the smooth functioning of the digestive and intestinal tracts. Helps improve assimilation and absorption of nutrients for overall health.
Protein and the amino acids it contains is essential, then, for a host of important, vital body functions so that the body’s proper physiological activities and balance are maintained for optimum health.
More is being learned every year as studies continue on the effects of protein/amino acids on health. There is far more which has been discovered about the health benefits of protein than can even be touched on in the space provided here.
Q: What is the recommended daily protein intake for a healthy adult?
A: It is recommended to get 100 grams or more per day, but the amount may be influenced by other factors. Consult your doctor before drastically changing your diet.
Q: What sources of amino acids can you recommend?
A: Foods that are high in essential amino acids are: lean meats, fish, eggs and dairy products, legumes and beans, and various nuts and seeds.
Q: What protein sources should I get for an off-grid living?
A: For those living off the grid, it is recommended to grow various types of plants, but also to rely on animal protein. Since keeping large animals is not recommended for everyone, most off gridders raise various poultry, rabbits and goats.
Your local library, book stores, and health food stores should have books on protein and health. If you have a health problem or health problems that you think may be helped by increasing your protein intake, it’s worth the effort to study the subject and learn all you can about it. Consult your doctor before you make any significant changes in your diet.
This article has been written by James H. Redford MD for Prepper’s Will.
You may also want to check this: