New study reveals risks of excessive protein intake on arterial health

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arterial-health-impacted-by-too-much-protein(NaturalHealth365)  Protein plays a crucial role in a balanced diet, offering strong satiety and supporting muscle synthesis and cellular repair.  Modern dietary recommendations lean towards higher protein intake, especially amidst long-standing concerns about fats and contemporary criticisms of carbohydrates.

However, recent studies suggest that excessive protein consumption may promote the development of atherosclerosis.  Although, we should mention that these clinical trials are usually looking at factory-farmed sources of protein rich foods that tend to be much more toxic to human health vs. 100% grass fed, pasture raised (organic) counterparts.  And, bottom line, the more toxic your food, the higher the risk of poor arterial health.

Small-scale clinical trials involving humans indicate that surpassing a certain calorie threshold can elevate the risk of plaque formation in arterial walls.  While this doesn’t negate the overall benefits of protein, it prompts further investigation.  Let’s dive deeper into this study to gain a better understanding.

How arterial health can be linked to toxic fats, protein and too much sugar in the your diet

When discussing macronutrients linked to heart disease, our attention usually gravitates towards trans fats or (toxic) saturated varieties plus the hazards of excessive sugar consumption.  Rarely do we consider protein as a potential contributor to dietary concerns.  In fact, lean protein often stands as the cornerstone for weight management and muscle building, and this perspective isn’t entirely misplaced.o

Protein constitutes the building blocks of nearly every cell in your body and is indispensable for numerous vital functions.  Specific amino acids play a role in regulating the behavior of immune cells, such as macrophages, which are involved in forming arterial plaque.  Initially, protein’s role in these cells may seem neutral, but emerging evidence suggests that there exists a critical threshold in terms of protein-derived calories.

Could too much protein be blamed for clogged (damaged) arteries?

The above-referenced study examined the dietary intake of a small number of human subjects along with a robust animal trial.  The subjects were divided into different groups of varying protein intakes, with markers for atherosclerosis measured via blood draws.

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Naturally, as you know, atherosclerosis is a complex disease that usually takes years or decades to develop.  Over the years, chronic inflammation in the arterial wall signals immune cells to accumulate in the area, which in turn causes a deposit of these immune cells in the damaged arterial wall.  Over time, these immune cells attract cholesterol (and other substances) to help stabilize damaged arterial walls, and this sticky plaque accumulation leads to a narrowing of the arteries that we call atherosclerosis.

The study suggests that exceeding 22% of daily calorie intake from protein may serve as a tipping point, hastening the accumulation of macrophages in arterial walls.  For instance, if you’re an adult male aiming for a daily calorie intake of 2,200, 22% of these calories from protein would amount to approximately 484 calories, equivalent to roughly 128g of protein.  While this constitutes a considerable protein intake, it may not be excessive for individuals prioritizing protein intake over carbohydrates or fats, particularly physically active individuals or those focused on weight loss.

Leucine may be a driver of atherosclerosis

In this investigation, researchers observed a notable trend: leucine, an amino acid abundant in animal-derived foods like meat, eggs, and dairy, exhibited a significantly greater impact in elevating markers associated with atherosclerosis compared to other amino acids.  This finding implies that diets rich in animal protein are more predisposed to this undesirable effect, especially if those animal foods consumed are loaded with toxic synthetic hormones and other unwanted chemicals.

The precise mechanism behind this phenomenon remains somewhat elusive, warranting further research.  However, the observation holds significance, highlighting a potential link between leucine intake and atherosclerosis risk.

Choosing quality proteins

The key message from this study isn’t that protein is inherently harmful.  In fact, consuming 128 grams of protein for a lean individual with a daily calorie requirement of 2,000 is quite substantial.  Moreover, adopting a whole food, organic diet abundant in dark leafy greens, non-starchy vegetables, and plant-based protein sources like legumes and nuts provides an ideal foundation for maintaining overall health.

Another way of looking at this is to ensure that you consume lots of antioxidants to greatly reduce the risk of oxidative stress derived from eating too many toxic foods.

With a solid nutritional base of healthy vegetation, choosing organically sourced, grass-fed protein is a great way to get the amino acids your body needs in the healthiest way possible.  Consuming factory-farmed meat poses risks not only to your health but also to animal welfare.  Excessive protein intake serves as yet another compelling reason to avoid factory-farmed meat altogether.

If you take one thing away, it should be that you need to be intentional about your diet.  Eating mostly plants, choosing your proteins wisely, and focusing on whole, organic foods is the wise path to a long, healthy life.

Sources for this article include:

Nature.com


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