1.1 A Case of Protein Poisoning
David looked really bad. His face was covered with red, rash-like bumps and his eyes were swollen. "My mouth and throat," he said, "feel like you poured burning chemicals down them. I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn't breathe," he gasped, "and my nose feels like a huge sore."
David thought he had an allergy, but there was another name for his condition—proteinosis, or poisoning by protein foods.
It was the week after Thanksgiving and David had been to a family reunion. "I never ate so much turkey and ham in my life," he told me. "Everybody brought platters and platters of meat, and I had to sample them all. I also ate a lot of desserts. It must have been something in the food I was allergic to that made my face swell up like this."
It was indeed "something" in the food that had caused David's condition, but it wasn't some mysterious hidden allergen. No, what made David so sick, so miserable was simply an excessive amount of animal protein.
Protein in large amounts, and of the wrong type, can poison you as surely as any other substance taken in excess of the body's true needs. In fact, what many people call allergies are often symptoms of proteinosis. When you consider the super-high protein diet that most people in this country eat, it is no surprise that a majority of the population is suffering from a continual low-level of protein poisoning.
That's right—protein, the food item so widely hailed and promoted by nutritionists and meat industry spokesmen, can cause serious harm when ingested in amounts in excess of the body's needs.
1.2 Too Much Of A "Good Thing"?
You've heard bad stories about fats in the diet, and even carbohydrate foods (especially refined sugars and starches) take a beating from weight-conscious individuals. But you probably never thought you would hear a bad word about protein.
Protein does the glamour jobs in the body. It builds muscle, hair, skin, and nails. Enzymes, hormones, hemoglobin, and antibodies are also made from protein, and everyone knows that protein (or amino acids) is essential for the healthy growth of the young.
All true. Protein does a vital job of keeping the body maintained, but it is required in far lower amounts than commonly consumed by the average person.
Well, so what? If protein is so vital for our well-being, then doesn't it make sense that a lot more protein would make you a lot more healthy? After all, you really can't get too much of a good thing, can you?
As with anything else taken into the body, the nutrient protein must either be used, stored, or eliminated by the body. If more protein than can be used is eaten, then it is converted into stored fuel for the body. Along with this converting of protein to stored fuel, toxins or nitrogenous waste products are produced from the extra protein. The toxins or by-products from this protein conversion consist of nitrogen or ammonia-like compounds, and are eliminated from the body via the kidneys.
When protein is consumed in greater amounts than can be processed, toxicity of the blood will result from the excessive amount of nitrogen in the blood. Excessive nitrogen impairs working capacity, and the accumulation of a nitrogen product, kinotoxin, in the muscles, causes fatigue.
Partially or incompletely digested proteins cannot be assimilated, and poisons are absorbed into the blood. Various symptoms of protein poisoning are experienced by different individuals, including burning of mouth, lips and throat, skin symptoms, nasal symptoms, and other signs of intolerance of certain foods and other substances, known as allergies.
In proteinosis, or acute protein poisoning, there is general aching and a bad headache. Hyperproteina is caused by incompletely digested protein due to impaired digestion or bad combination of foods and may be thrown off as mucus, and might also cause aching and headaches.
Can you get too much of a good thing? If the "thing" is protein, the answer is yes. High protein intake forces extra work on the body. It must convert the protein to fuel and eliminate the harmful acids created in the process of digestion. Acid saturation of the body cells, due to excessive protein intake, can quite simply cause death. Perhaps a better question is: how "good" a thing is protein anyway?
Home > Lesson 85 - The Dangers Of A High-Protein Diet
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