Complete Proteins

6. “Complete Proteins”

Now that we have an understanding of the amino acids, we can intelligently discuss one of the biggest myths in nutrition—the necessity of eating complete proteins.

6.1 Definition

A complete protein is usually defined as* a single or combined protein source which has all eight of the essential amino acids. Meat, for example, is said to be a complete protein, and so are eggs, dairy products, soybeans and many nuts. It has been suggested by some individuals and groups that a complete protein (or a combination of proteins that will provide certain proportionate amounts of the eight essential amino acids) be eaten at every meal to make sure that we obtain all eight of the essential amino acids, preferably in certain proportions.

6.2 Are Not Essential In the Diet

This idea of a “complete protein” has been so heavily advertised by special interest groups, such as the meat and dairy industries, that the average person believes he must eat meat (or at least milk and eggs if a “vegetarian”) or at the very least prepare protein combinations such as grains and beans or take protein supplements in order to get enough high-quality protein. All of these beliefs are false and. in fact, may lead to practices which increase the toxicity in the body.

This is an important concept in understanding protein needs: It is not necessary for all eight of the essential amino acids to be present in one food or even within one meal in order to obtain our full protein needs. As we have discussed, the body has its own amino acid pool to draw from to supply amino acids which may be missing from dietary sources. Needed amino acids may be withdrawn from those already in circulation, or the necessary amino acids may be released by the liver or other cells into the circulatory system. The amino acid pool thus acts as the supplier of the essential amino acids missing from incomplete proteins. This fact is proven by observing patients after lengthy fasts who exhibited not a protein deficiency, but a restored protein balance.

Only the carnivorous animals in nature eat “complete proteins.” Most of the vegetarian animals eat grass, tubers, fruits, grains, etc. and often of a limited variety. Yet they never exhibit signs of protein deficiency. In fact, protein poisoning from eating high-protein foods is far more common among Western man than is protein deficiency.

The “complete protein” idea also falls apart if we realise that the amino acids in many of the so-called complete protein foods cannot even be fully used by the body. Meat as eaten, for example, is usually only the muscle meat of the animal, which is particularly low in some of the essential amino acids. The soybean has an anti-enzyme factor which blocks or inhibits the assimilation of some of its essential amino acids. Proteins which have been cooked or heated (such as meat. fish, eggs and most dairy products) may lose-up to 50% or more of their essential amino acids due to the creation of enzyme resistant linkages caused by the cooking. So we can see that many of the so-called “complete proteins” are not even completely used by the body.

6.3 Are Present In Wholesome foods

If you are truly concerned about eating a food that has all eight essential amino acids which are in a form easily used by the body, we would suggest some of these wholesome foods.

All contain the eight essential amino acids:

Fruits Nuts Vegetables
Bananas Almonds Alfalfa Sprouts
Tomatoes Coconuts Bean Sprouts
Dates Filberts Carrots
  Sunflower Seeds Eggplants
  Walnuts Sweet Potatoes
  Brazil Nuts Broccoli
  Pecans Cabbages

There are many other foods suitable for the human dietary which also contain all eight essential amino acids.

It should be emphasized, however, that it is not necessary for one food or one meal or one day’s intake of food to contain all eight essential amino acids. We do not need to eat meat, cheese or soybeans to obtain complete protein, nor do we need to mix grains and beans or milk and cereals to get a complete protein in one meal.

A varied diet of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and sprouts can furnish us with all the essential and non-essential amino acids, along with all the other nutrients we need. And, it can do so in the most wholesome foods suitable for the human diet and in a form most readily and efficiently used.

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