As I talk with clients via Ask Tracy Sessions, and encourage them to eat more fruits, veggies, and leafy greens…..I invariably get asked “Where and how do I get enough protein?”
I think we need to start with some history.
- Adam & Eve were definitely not out slaying squirrel, deer, elk, or moose. They were eating in a garden. God created us, and He created our food supply. We are fully capable of eating a plant-based diet and surviving. In fact, not only surviving but thriving if we do it right (not subsisting on macaroni and fake cheese). Spinach is 30% protein. Beef is 50% protein. BUT, the plant protein in spinach is more absorb-able than the animal protein in beef. #True
- Somewhere along the way, man obviously started eating animals, drinking milk, and eating eggs. Let’s face it. They taste great and are calorie dense so if you were working hard, those foods kept you full for hours. But let’s fast forward to the time of World War II. America was broke, and made some deals with the Beef Industry (and other industries as well) to promote beef consumption in schools & institutions. And today we have the Beef Counsel advertising “Beef. It’s what’s for dinner”. We are inundated with messages that unless we eat animal protein 2-3 x a day we’ll be deficient. Life spans were a lot shorter when Eskimo’s only had whales to eat and Native Americans subsisted on buffalo. There are millions of vegetarians and vegans in India and they are not deficient in protein.
The problem is, no one ever asks these questions:
- Where will I get my anti-oxidants?
- Where will I get my vitamins? My minerals? My phytochemicals? My micronutrients? My omega 3’s?
- What can I eat so my mitochondria will thrive?
- What foods promote brain health? And prevent dementia?
- How will I strengthen my immune system so I’m not vulnerable to an auto-immune disease or cancer?
- What foods counteract inflammation?
- What can I eat to stave off early aging?
- How can I prevent Parkinson’s? Diabetes? Heart disease?
- What foods do I need to have a healthy pregnancy?
THESE, my friend, are the REAL questions we should be asking. We age faster and can’t sustain normal metabolic functions without vitamins, minerals, micronutrients, co-enzymes, and phytochemicals.
Whether you call yourself Paleo, Vegetarian or Vegan….YOU need plant foods to sustain health, or to heal if you have issues.
- The right way to do a paleo diet is to load it with fruits, veggies and leafy greens. And animal protein is lean and secondary to your plant foods. Bacon isn’t part of the deal. Check out Dr. Terry Wahls and how she has cured her MS with a plant-based paleo diet.
- Maybe you are vegan and think that equals a healthy diet. Well, the truth is it depends. If you are a vegan, but subsisting on beans, grains, and nuts & seeds, you too are missing out on critical nutrients provided by fruits, veggies, and greens.
- Same goes for vegetarians. If fruits, veggies, and leafy greens take a back seat to fish, eggs, grains, nuts & seeds, you could do better.
The most healing, alkalizing foods are fruits, veggies, and leafy greens.
A mix of raw, and baked or steamed is best.
Gluten free grains like quinoa, rice, or millet are okay, but the sicker you are, the more you need fruits, veggies, and leafy greens to heal.
Same is true of legumes, nuts & seeds.
This is true whether you “just’ have seasonal allergies or have been diagnosed with a serious health condition. And of course, it’s another blog to talk about which foods promote chronic disease. But if you focus on fruits, veggies, and greens, you naturally crowd out some unhealthy foods.
WHAT ABOUT IRON?
About right now, you are making an argument for iron aren’t you? Where will you get your iron??? Greens!!! Foods like spinach (remember Popeye?). And mustard greens. Also: berries, lychees, cherries, pomegranates, asparagus, broccoli, parsley, raspberry leaf tea, Chaga mushroom tea, nutmeg…and the list goes on. If you are a real foodie, you might also consume spirulina, wheat grass, and barley grass juice powder which can pull you out of anemia in a New York minute.
Is plant-based iron as good as animal-based iron? It’s BETTER. Why? Because pathogens need iron too. Most often, anemia is the result of a pathogen like Epstein Barr dining on your iron stores. Cancers typically have a viral component too. In our bodies wisdom, you might see a rise in ferritin, but it only looks like you have too much iron because the body is trying to protect you. It’s literally hiding the iron from the pathogens. What you need to know is that God built in a safety mechanism and pathogens can’t use plant-based iron sources as well as iron from animals.
Bottom line? Plant based iron sources are easily used by us, and protect us from a pathogen storm.
CAN I GET ENOUGH PROTEIN?
Back to our protein conversation. It’s a resounding YES. You WILL get enough protein. And it’s more absorb-able. Our bodies have to break everything down. Including meat. It isn’t like a steak just automatically turns into a bicep or 6-pack. And it takes a lot of (digestive) energy to do this.
- Spinach is 30% protein
- Asparagus is 27% protein
- Leafy greens like lettuce are 22% protein
- Tomatoes, peaches, grapes, banana’s, watermelon, potatoes – ALL have protein.
Truth be told, we only need about 5-10% protein if everyone was honest about it. Perhaps one of the best experts on this is Dr. Douglas Graham, who wrote the book 80/10/10. 80% carbohydrates. 10% protein. 10% fat. And by carbohydrate I don’t mean cookies and cake. I mean apples, oranges, berries, potatoes, sweet potatoes and such.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
What would you eat if you had cancer? I know it’s not popular but most cancers are the perfect storm of diet, pathogens, toxins, and stress. What that means is that our choices have an impact.
You probably know that many people opt out of conventional cancer treatments, and instead start juicing and go vegan. It’s no coincidence that they lose weight, their skin clears, they start to glow and look healthier than they were before cancer.
Whatever diet you subscribe to, start incorporating more fruits, veggies, and leafy greens in your diet.
If you are officially sick or are on a path that includes symptoms, you need those phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, co-enzymes, micronutrients, and anti-oxidants. Eating animal foods three times a day takes room away from the true healing foods.
Animal foods will not help you recover your nervous system, your brain, your kidney or liver, nor kill virus’s, nor aid in detoxification. Meat doesn’t break down well so it ferments and feeds pathogens. And it sucks energy away from other, more important, metabolic processes.
Even if you are plant-based, be wary of using too many protein powders and focusing on nuts & seeds, grains, and legumes.
Let’s Say It Again:
The most healing foods are fruits, veggies, and leafy greens.
A mix of raw, and baked or steamed is best.
I know it might not be sexy to say you eat a plant-based diet, in today’s paleo world, but these foods ARE life changing.
When I was diagnosed with chronic Lyme, it may as well have been cancer. It meant that my whole system was under attack. My immunity of course, but also my liver was struggling as a result of the toxins and neurotoxins excreted by the pathogens….and my whole neurological system was inflamed. I changed our diet and the results a year later are profound. I gave up foods. And ate certain foods. You guessed it. Fruits, Veggies, and Leafy Greens.
Food is Medicine.
Fruits, veggies, and leafy greens are your life preserver
About Tracy Konoske, MS, RDN
Tracy Konoske is an eclectic clinician and uses a blend of natural, integrative, functional, and personalized medicine to help her patients feel their best. Tracy understands that there are 4 drivers of chronic disease: Toxins, Infections, Stress, and Diet. And it's often a combination of all 4 that lead to a chronic health condition, and thus it takes a treatment plan addressing each of the 4 to resolve and reclaim good health. Tracy has recovered from 2 "perfect storm" situations which had drastic effects on her health and led to multiple mystery illnesses and diagnosis including Lyme.
By reducing the burden of these triggers, Tracy is successfully resolving:
- Fatigue (anemia's, adrenals, thyroid-related, chronic fatigue syndrome, ME-CFS)
- Auto Immune Conditions (Hashimoto's, Lupus, MS, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Celiac)
- Mental Health Conditions (anxiety, depression, OCD, ADD/ADHD)
- Cognitive Dysfunction (trouble concentrating, forgetfulness, symptoms of early Alzheimer's)
- Digestive Disorders (low hydrochloric acid, "leaky gut", Candida Albicans, Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth SIBO, IBS, Crohn's Disease, Ulcerative Colitis)
- Migraines and chronic headaches
If you've one or more of the above-mentioned conditions, or have been told you have Lyme or chronic Lyme, there's a good chance you are in the right place.
If you have a history of chronic sore throats, tonsillitis or tonsillectomy, mononucleosis, glandular fever, shingles, and/or cold sores, there's a good chance you are in the right place.
There are no coincidences. All good things come from God.