Do you frequently visit the gym? Are you seriously into lifting weights? Are you a health nut? If you answered “no” to all three of those questions, guess what? Protein is still crucial for your diet and overall wellbeing! I feel like the word “protein” has become associated with a very specific stereotype, you know who I’m talking about…the kind of people whose ultimate fitness goal is looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime. I have absolutely nothing against this stereotype; if I could say one thing to these people it would be “more power to you!” However, I am frustrated with how often people walk around with the misconception that protein, in general, is limited to this group of people. As if the only purpose in consuming protein is to build muscle (Ha!). I’m here to tell you that protein is a seriously misunderstood food group and is actually a fantastic source for the nutrients your body desperately needs to remain in a healthy state.
How big of a role does protein play in your daily diet? If you consume any protein at all, how good is the quality of that protein? The fact of the matter is, if your source of protein lies within meats, you’re only consuming a healthy android quality protein if you are eating Organic meats free of antibiotics and GMOs. So, stop and reevaluate your current source of protein…is it 100% healthy or does it come with some not so great chemical and/or hormonal additives?
For those of you who are vegetarians or vegans, how do you make protein a key part of your diet? It is challenging enough for those of us who do eat meat and dairy products to find acceptable protein. Unfortunately, it is all too common for food companies to automatically add preservatives and chemical ingredients instead of using the real thing. Our food industry has developed a habit that severely hurts us, the consumers, in the long run. You see more and more people developing serious health disorders these days. Autism is becoming too common among children, as is epilepsy.
I developed epilepsy as a teen and I thought I was perfectly healthy at the time! The saying, “don’t judge a book by its cover” is very appropriate for my situation because my insides would have told a VERY different story from my “healthy” exterior! My poor brain was struggling and I had no idea. It’s going on 7 years since I was first diagnosed and I’ve learned quite a bit about the cause of my epilepsy during that time. While I started out thinking it was simply my brain “misfiring,” I’ve come to learn that the human body rarely “misfires.” No, there is always an underlying cause that is to blame for one’s poor state of health. This underlying cause could be a multitude of things including deficiencies, diet, lifestyle, environment, etc. (the list goes on and on).
Discovering the cause of my seizures to be a hormone imbalance was my first step toward figuring out how to return to a state of good health. Some people are content to simply take their medication and listen to everything their doctors have to say. I don’t know about you, but I refuse to be one of those people. I don’t want to take my medication forever and I certainly don’t plan on dealing with seizures for the rest of my life. I have found that considering all factors as a cause of poor health is the best way to think beyond doctors and actually get to the root of the problem.
It was this very thinking that led me to consider my diet as a contributing factor to my hormone imbalance and my seizures. Once I began my own research on the quality of those foods I frequently ate, it was no longer a mystery why my hormones were so unstable and why I had multiple deficiencies.
From the nasty preservatives to the synthetic ingredients, I was basically eating junk on a daily basis. Processed foods may taste good, but they certainly aren’t doing your body any favors. None of these foods have any nutritional value (despite what the box says!). The fruits and veggies I typically bought were not organic; therefore I was filling my body with pesticides. All the meat and dairy products I consumed were treated with antibiotics, hormones, and who knows what else because they also were not Organic.
After learning about all of the horribly toxic ingredients I was consuming during every meal, it’s a shock I hadn’t started growing an extra limb. After switching completely to Organic foods and carefully looking over every ingredient label before buying anything, my health improved immensely. However, I realized that one challenge still remained: providing my body with the appropriate amount of protein.
I’ve had people tell me to use protein powder, such as whey or pea, to solve this problem, but it is nearly impossible to find a product without toxic ingredients and harmful preservatives. So, do I carry on being deficient in protein or do I consume a healthy amount of protein and compromise my health by also pumping it full of toxins??? It sounds like quite the dilemma, I know, but I can happily answer this question with an alternative solution…make your own protein powder instead! Thanks to a brilliant recipe from Back to Her Roots, you only need three ingredients and a coffee grinder to do this! Here is a breakdown of the protein powder recipe:
PROTEIN POWDER RECIPE
1/2 cup Oats
1/2 cup Quinoa
1/3 cup Brown Rice
Mix up in a bowl, then ground it in a coffee grinder about 1/3 cup at a time (if small) until it resembles a fine powder. To up the protein level, add more quinoa. To reduce the carbs, decrease the amount of steel cut oats and rice.
Homemade Protein Powder (per 1/4 cup of powder):
Store Bought Protein Powder (per 1/4 cup of powder):
(Recipe and nutritional information courtesy of Back to Her Roots)
I know that the levels of calories, fat and carbs are a bit higher in the homemade powder, but it is also free of toxic ingredients, artificial flavorings and preservatives, so this truly is the better option. Thanks to the brilliant resources available on the Internet, you will have no trouble finding recipe ideas for protein shakes! Here’s a link I have found helpful: 48 Delicious Protein Shake Recipes. You will be shocked at how delicious and filling these shakes are (I certainly was!). Protein shakes, in particular, tend to be thought of as exclusively for weight lifters, but they truly are an excellent way to get protein into your diet and to start your day off right! Plus, they’re great for vegetarians, vegans, and meat eaters!
If you could use some more protein in your diet, seize the day and implement more of it into your diet whether your source is (Organic, antibiotic-free) meats and dairy, protein rich grains (like Chia seeds and Quinoa), or protein shakes.