Science comes up with new information about health and nutrition every day. Long held beliefs are destroyed by new studies that prove that what was once a commonly held and accepted theory is no longer valid. Food X causes cancer one week and then a week later is being touted as a cancer preventative. Some foods are said to protect you from one condition but raise your risk of another, making you choose which condition you fear least. If you believe everything that you read about the foods that you eat and the beverages you drink, you might be confused at best, scared to death at worst. After all, your very health depends on what you eat and drink and with science unable to agree on which of these are good or bad. What do you do?
Protein, one of the three major macronutrients is also one of the most controversial. For years protein has been alternately the darling and the devil of the American diet. During the Atkins diet craze, protein was extolled as a miracle, and people were told to eat tons of the nutrient as well as huge amounts of fat by default while ignoring carbohydrates, even the healthy, complex carbs that we actually need to have.
After those diets stopped working correctly and proved to be difficult to maintain in the long term, they were abandoned. Healthier diet alternatives took the place of the Atkins diet, including the Mediterranean diet, the South Beach Diet, and the Zone diet which while higher in protein than other diets, are more focused on balance and keep the important complex carbs in the foods as well. All of these diets also focus on lower fat protein sources, making them healthier than the old Atkins plans.
There are other advantages and disadvantages regarding protein that are being found by science. There are some studies that involve animals at this point but will undoubtedly move to human research in the coming years.
Protein for Menopause Symptoms
Menopause affects all women in different ways. Every year, an estimated four thousand women enter the phase of their lives known as menopause, a phase that they will spend up to a third of their life in. (Source: Creighton University School of Medicine/Alternative Medicine). Some of the most common symptoms of menopause range from: hot flashes, vaginal dryness, increased risk of osteoporosis, increased risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, and physical discomfort including abdominal bloating.
An article posted on Inscience.org shows that an increased level of a particular protein may help with the problem of abdominal pain caused by bloating in menopausal women. The protein does not reduce the bloating itself only reduces the sensation of the pain and discomfort. In addition to showing promise in reducing the discomfort of bloating, it may also be used to treat other gastrointestinal disorders. (Source: Inscience.org).
In addition, soy based proteins may be beneficial in reducing other menopausal symptoms including a 45% decrease in hot flashes and a decrease in the risk factors for osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease. (Source: Menopause Rx.com).
A particular form of soy protein, miso, is shown to reduce the risk and incidence of breast cancer in Japanese women as well as increasing bone density in post menopausal women. According to a study done by Japan’s National Cancer Center, women who ate three or more bowls of miso soup had a 40% lower chance of developing breast cancer. Menopausal symptoms were relieved in as little as 4 to12 weeks after starting daily consumption of the miso soup as well.
In addition to the research that is finding new information in regard to protein, there are studies that are meant to disprove or at least water down some of the concerns that involve protein and protein intake. One of these, in relation to osteoporosis shows that the previously held theory that protein intake increases the risk of this bone destroying disease has shown that it is only true in certain people who are likely to have developed osteoporosis regardless of diet. The earliest studies suggested that higher levels of protein caused increased excretion of calcium by increasing the acidity of the blood. To buffer this high acid blood, the body pulls minerals, including calcium from the bone stores, depleting those minerals. (Source: Rivera).
What the American Dietetic Association Says About Supplements
In December 2009, the ADA released a paper that discussed their new and updated position on the use of nutritional supplements and why there were still lingering issues with doing so for the general public. The ADA reported its main concerns about any type of supplementation, including protein supplements, is the lack of knowledge by the consumers. However, the ADA did agree that with proper education, supplements could be a beneficial part of an otherwise healthy diet. The nutrients should come from healthy foods, but in cases of deficiency, using a supplement can be a perfectly beneficial way to boost health (Source: Science Daily, December 8, 2009).
While the ADA did not specify any particular types or brands of supplements, there are many to choose from on the market. Profect, a protein supplement from Protica is one such option, providing 25 grams of digestible protein in only 100 calories. There is zero fat and carbs in each serving of this supplement and it is available in a number of different flavors as well.
More Research Related Protein News
A research discovery of a particular protein could lead to a potential cure for Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s causes a wide variety of symptoms and can affect each sufferer in a different way. Currently there are medications that are meant to ease some of these symptoms but none that specifically target the disease itself. This new discovery could put science closer to a cure by allowing them to map out exactly how it starts and progresses in the brain. (Source: Science Daily, November 4, 2009).
Another study has shown that a particular protein that is produced in the body could work to help maintain nerve health. An absence of these proteins was shown to lead to diseases of the central nervous system while malformed versions of the protein lead to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease as well. Currently, the effects of this protein have only been studied in animals, but human study should come next. (Source: Yorkshire Post, February 4, 2010).