Confused about Protein Shakes?


shakeThere are so many reports coming out every day about what you should, could, or must eat.

Now, the latest scare is Protein Shakes. The Consumer Reports Magazine July 2010 tested protein powders for heavy metals such as cadmium, arsenic and mercury. In summary, it was found that some of the protein powders contents exceeds the maximum limits for one or two of those contaminants in dietary supplements proposed by U.S. Pharmacopei, the federally recognized authority that sets voluntary standards for healthy products.

Should you be concerned?

Lets look at some facts:

Cadmium may actually displace zinc, preventing it from doing some of its important enzymatic and organ functions. The cadmium zinc ratio is very important as cadmium toxicity and storage greatly increase with zinc deficiency. In fact, good levels of zinc protect against tissue damage by cadmium. Cadmium competes with zinc for binding sites and can therefore interfere with some of zinc’s essential functions. In this way it may inhibit enzyme reaction and utilization of nutrients. It also appears to depress some immune function, mainly reducing your resistance to bacteria and viruses. It may also increase cancer risk, possibly for the lungs and prostate gland. It also affects bones. First described in Japan, the Itai-itai (“ouch-ouch”) disease, was caused by cadmium pollution.

Arsenic is also found in many fuel oils, coals, and weed killers and some insecticides. Yet, we have to distinguish if the article refers to organic arsenic as arsenates, which are found in the earth and in food (doesn’t readily produce toxicity) or the inorganic arseneites or trivalent forms of arsenic such as arsenic trioxide used industrially. I am assuming the latter one was tested in the research. There is no clear picture of arsenic toxicity, but possible effects are hair loss, dermatitis, diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms, fatigue, headaches, confusion, muscle pains, red and white blood cell problems, neurological symptoms and liver and kidney damage.

Mercury or quicksilver is a widespread environmental contaminant. It is fatally toxic, though the metallic mercury is less so. Mercury in industrial waste has polluted our waters and contaminated our fresh and salt-water plants and fish. Besides that it shows up in protein shakes it is widely used in industry, agriculture (fungicides, pesticides) and healthcare (Dental fillings and medicines). Now we can add cosmetics to that list, as mercury is added to decrease bacterial growth. Other sources are mirrors, latex paints, fabric softeners, felt, floor waxes and polishes, sewage sludge, laxatives containing calomel…I better stop.

What should you do?

The choice is yours. Yes, some experts consider protein shakes to be just another form of food (liquid), that healthy individuals can use to get rid of contaminants through liver and kidneys, and that the additional protein powder in meals does not cause any harm.

This is their opinion and this is mine:

We live already in a polluted environment. In addition, we live in an environment where obesity is epidemic. You should recognize that metals are stored in your fat tissue. Also we are exposed to contaminants through regular food or water (metal pipes). In short, we deal already with an overflow of environmental metals. Why add something more?

When a client signs up for a weight loss program, needing to lose more then 40 lbs, my first concern is quality of nutrition, quantity of nutrition and the liver and the kidneys. As you lose weight, your kidneys and liver need to handle metals stored in your body. To advise a client to start protein shakes would be the wrong strategy in my opinion. There are other ways to increase protein intake to provide amino acids, the building blocks for lean muscle.

In the end the choice is yours. Get educated and informed before you put something into your body. And let’s face it, protein powders are processed foods. My strategy is always to educate individuals to eat foods that come as close as possible from the earth – fresh air foods.

Stay focused.


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Categories : Nutrition

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