Protein: good or bad for bone?

Special note:  Recently I saw a review of various studies that said getting more protein from non-red meat sources may reduce your risk for a stroke.  Here’s a blog I posted earlier showing that protein is essential for bone health and can be a part of the alkaline diet.

As I was updating my Acid Alkaline Food Guide, I decided it’s time to dispel some of the most common misconceptions about an alkaline diet. These inaccuracies may actually be keeping you from enjoying the widest variety of foods possible while still keeping your pH in optimal range.

Take protein for example. I’m often asked if it’s true that a special diet that promotes pH balance can include the amount of protein that is required for good health. The answer is an absolute “yes!” — adequate protein is essential for bone growth, maintenance and renewal as well as overall health.

It’s only excessive intake of protein that’s acid forming. The key with protein, as it is for many things, is moderation. A healthy, balanced diet should include at least 50 to 63 grams of total protein a day, as well as plenty of alkalizing fruits and vegetables. In fact, even higher amounts of protein can be beneficial if they are balanced by alkalizing foods or supplements.

Keep these guidelines in mind when it comes to protein intake:

• Many of us living in the U.S. do get too much protein, especially since most of our protein intake comes from animal protein, which robs more nutrients from bone than plant protein. Many of us consume over 100 grams of protein per day — way more than necessary!

• A 4 ounce serving of turkey, beef or chicken has, on average, 33 grams of protein. Think about how many servings of these meats you eat a day to estimate your own protein intake. Then if necessary, think of some ways you can reduce the amount.

• Dried beans and combinations of beans and grains make excellent protein-rich meat substitutes.

• If you like to include meat in your main meal, consider options where meat is just one ingredient of many – such as a stir fry.

Finally, when considering protein intake, we should look at the habits of our ancestors during the Paleo age. While they certainly were big game hunters, they also ate a wide variety of alkalizing foods including roots, plants, nuts, seeds and fruits. As I note in my book, the careful reconstruction of 159 ancestral Upper Paleolithic diets by researchers has led them to conclude that 87% of the pre-agricultural diets were alkaline-forming. What worked for them can certainly work for us!