Jewish Nutrition

The Jewish site for Kosher Food and Healthy Eating

Perplexing Protein

We need protein to make almost all of our body tissues which we replace on a constant basis.  Nutritionally there are basically two schools of thought on protein, one advocating vegetarianism and one advocating meat consumption and a few compromises inbetween.  The argument for a vegetarian diet is that it is free from toxins and hormones found in animal products, low in fat, easier for the body to digest and more environmentally friendly.  The argument for animal product consumption is that vegetarians may not get enough protein, minerals and fat soluable vitamins and that meat has been a major part of the traditional diet of many very healthy people worldwide.  According to the studies of Dr Weston Price, a pioneer of nutritional studies, tribes whose diet included meat, fish or other animal products were generally healthier and stronger than those that had a mainly vegan diet.

While some people who combine and prepare their food carefully do well on a vegetarian diet, it is not ideal for many people.  Women especially during childbearing years should eat some animal products to ensure optimum health and avoid deficiency. Also many vegetarians choose to get a little protein from milk.  Unfortunately as most of our milk is pasturised and homgenised this will not be a beneficial protein source.  Instead of focusing on good and bad we again come to the issue of food quality.

Most of the meat/chicken etc available to us in the shops is contaminated with hormones and other chemicals.  The animals are fed on commercially produced food instead of being taken to pasture and are given frequent doses of antibiotics and hormones to keep them 'well'.  What should be a healthy nourishing food has become contaminated.

I therefore recommend that wherever possible you try to buy organic chicken and meat.  The more demand there is, the more this will become available.  However if this is unavailable where you live or unaffordable I have a couple of suggestions.  Make sure to first check out availability as there is more organic kosher food available than you might first think.  I don't suggest giving up meat or chicken if you can't buy organic, especially as there are so many people with blood sugar problems which eating protein helps.  Instead make sure the rest of your diet is as chemical-free as possible and drink at least 2 litres of clean water a day to help your body handle any toxins.  A good compromise is to focus on eating organic eggs and fish for your protein.  These not only have a minimal toxin content but are great brain foods too.  If you eat a little meat or chicken with a grain combined with a nut, seed or legume, your body will be able to utilise the protein in the grains and legumes better.

Many nutritionists are concerned that we eat too much meat and with it saturated fat.  If you have read our article 'Facts about Fats', you will see that saturated fat is not the demon it is made out to be. There are many fat-souluable vitamin and minerals that are in the fatty part of meat.  However many people who eat a lot of meat have a poor diet overall and eat few wholegrains, vegetables and fruits and water.  I advocate a chemical-free diet including animal protein, focusing on fish and eggs with some additional meat/chicken products.  What kind of protein you eat and how much is very individual.  Keep tabs on how you feel when eating certain foods and you will find the right balance for you.