• Glenn Wilson
    60
    Dr. Greger: In the two decades between 1990 and 2010, the leading causes of death and disability remained relatively constant. Heart disease remains the leading cause of loss of health and life, but among the diseases whose incidence has increased the most over the past generation is chronic kidney disease. The number of deaths has doubled.

    Our “meat-sweet” diet has been implicated in this escalation. Excess table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup consumption is associated with increased blood pressure and uric acid levels, both of which can damage the kidney. The saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol found in animal products and junk food are also associated with impaired kidney function, and meat protein increases the acid load to the kidneys, boosting ammonia production and potentially damaging our sensitive kidney tissue. This is why a restriction of protein intake is often recommended to chronic kidney disease patients to help prevent further functional decline.

    Is all protein created equal? No—not all protein has the same effect on your kidneys. Our kidneys appear to handle plant protein very differently from animal protein. Within hours of consuming meat, our kidneys rev up into hyperfiltration mode, dramatically increasing the kidneys’ workload. This is true of a variety of animal proteins—beef, chicken, and fish appear to have similar effects. But an equivalent amount of plant protein causes virtually no noticeable stress on the kidneys. Eat some tuna, and within three hours, your kidney filtration rate can shoot up 36 percent. But eating the same amount of protein in the form of tofu doesn’t appear to place any additional strain on the kidneys.

    More at the NutritionFacts topic page: Protein.


    Nutritional quality indices show plant-based diets are the healthiest, but do vegetarians and vegans reach the recommended daily intake of protein?

    Dr. Greger: The largest study in history of those eating plant-based diets recently compared the nutrient profiles of about 30,000 non-vegetarians to 20,000 vegetarians, and about 5,000 vegans, flexitarians, and no meat except fish-eaters, allowing us to finally put to rest the perennial question, “Do vegetarians get enough protein?” The average requirement is 42 grams of protein a day. Non-vegetarians get way more than they need, and so does everyone else. On average, vegetarians and vegans get 70% more protein than they need every day.

    Surprising that there’s so much fuss about protein in this country when less than 3% of adults don’t make the cut—presumably folks on extreme calorie-restricted diets who just aren’t eating enough food, period. But 97% of Americans get enough protein.

    There is a nutrient, though, for which 97% of Americans are deficient. Now, that’s a problem nutrient. That’s something we really have to work on. Less than 3% of Americans get even the recommended minimum adequate intake of fiber. So, the question isn’t “Where do you get your protein?” but “Where do you get your fiber?” We only get about 15 grams a day. The minimum daily requirement is 31.5, so we get less than half the minimum. If you break it down by age and gender, after studying the diets of 12,761 Americans, the percentage of men between ages 14 and 50 getting the minimum adequate intake? Zero.

    Continue at NutritionFacts: Do Vegetarians Get Enough Protein?

    Maybe you prefer to read the transcript instead of watching this video? To see the full transcript or links to cited sources go to the link above, then scroll below the video and click on View Transcript or Sources Cited.

    More in the category Health and Medical.

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