Do you have a constant craving for sweets and carbs, muscle cramps and/or joint pain,
insomnia, fatigue, moodiness and anxiety? It could be you are not getting enough protein in your diet, which could be contributing to unstable blood sugar levels.
The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is a modest 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight (multiply .36 x your body weight in pounds or use this online calculator). The RDA is the amount of a nutrient you need to meet your basic nutritional requirements. Herego, if you are highly active or need more muscle mass, you should be consuming more than the minimum RDA. While consuming too much protein can be hard on the kidneys since most proteins—particularly red meat, fish and chicken—tend to be acidic, Nancy Rodriguez, a registered dietitian and professor of nutritional science at the University of Connecticut, concluded, after a recent Protein Summit, that taking in up to twice the RDA of protein “is a safe and good range to aim for.” Note that this does not necessarily mean that we should eat more meat; there is plenty of protein found in vegetables.
Protein provides the structure in the body, and is essential to the creation of enzymes, antibodies and the transport system within the body. It is comprised of 22 different smaller molecules called “amino acids,” eight of which cannot be manufactured by the body. These are the eight essential amino acids we need to consume on a daily basis. Complete proteins—like red meat, chicken, fish, eggs and dairy—include all eight, as do certain vegetables like soybeans, quinoa, millet algae/spirulina and avocado. Incomplete proteins need to be properly combined to ensure that all eight essential amino acids are consumed over the course of one day. Incomplete protein sources include:
- legumes (beans and lentils, e.g. mung beans, red lentils, white beans, chickpeas, dried peas etc)
- grains (e.g. spelt, rice, barley, oats. Note that whole “brown” grains have about 25% more protein than refined “white” ones)
- nuts and seeds (e.g. pumpkin seeds, almonds, sunflower seeds)
- vegetables (generally low in protein, highest percentages in spinach, broccoli, sweetcorn, potato)
Ayurveda typically recommends a vegetarian diet, particularly for hardier body types like Kaphas. However, in individuals with wasting conditions or those who are protein-deficient, a common treatment is to consume 4 oz. of red meat daily for two weeks. This treatment would be more typical for someone with a Vata constitution or imbalance. Vatas, in general, have the highest need for protein in order to maintain their structure. Pittas with strong digestion can easily digest protein and are said to require a moderate amount, preferably the less acidic kind. Click here for a list of protein priorities for each of the three doshas.
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of Ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concerns, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained Ayurvedic expert, call or e-mail us for an appointment. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.