Harmful Effects of a High Protein Diet

January 18th, 2015 by Dr. Keith Nemec

High protein diets have gotten a lot of attention in the past decade, especially with the social popularity of the Atkins diet. However, much research shows the harmful effects on the body from consuming a high protein diet.

From a recent study published in the journal Cell Metabolism, researchers discovered that the risk of dying from any cause was increased by 74% simply from eating a high-protein diet during middle age compared to eating a low-protein diet, and the risk of dying from cancer increased more than four times. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, consuming a high-protein diet has similar risks with smoking, with an increase of three times for overall risk of death, as compared to not smoking. There were 6,381 subjects followed for 18 years and were aged 50 and older. As this study showed a large difference between high and low-protein diets, subjects who ate moderate amounts of protein during middle age were still three times more likely to die of cancer than low-protein eaters. In addition, risk of diabetes increased by a four-fold. A plant derived protein diet resulted in a decrease risk of mortality and disease as compared to an animal, high-protein diet.

From a recent study of 66,000 women from the British Medical Journal, researchers discovered that pregnancy women who consumed a diet rich in vegetables, and fruits had a significant reduced risk of preterm delivery. This supports and encourages a healthy diet for pregnant women, not just for a short time period but to be following through for life.

High dietary protein can cause or aggravate chronic kidney disease. It has been shown in various studies that high protein diet increases glomerular filtration rate or GFR, as endocrine factors increase as well, which both can strain or overwork the kidneys. For those with risk of kidney stones or chronic kidney disease, this is important to be aware of and to decrease risk of disease progression. Urea production and urea excretion are controlled by the kidneys and are increased with a high protein diet, which can cause dehydration and accumulation of blood urea nitrogen.

From a prospective, cohort study done with 43,396 Swedish women, aged 30-49 years of age, they completed dietary questionnaires and had a follow up after 15.7 years. Cardiovascular health and correlation with diet was investigated. A 1/10th increase in protein and decrease in carbohydrate consumption was statistically significant for an increased correlation of overall cardiovascular disease. Four additional cohort studies have shown this correlation between high protein diet and cardiovascular disease.

From a recent cohort study found that men and women that ate a diet high in red meat, had a higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Subjects included 37,083 men from the Health Professionals Follow-up study, 79,570 women from the Nurses’ Health Study I, and 87,504 women in the Nurses’ Health Study II. For each additional serving beyond 50g/day of red meat and processed red meat each day that study participants consumed, their risk of diabetes rose 12 and 32%, respectively. Consuming a serving of nuts instead of red meat each day lowered the risk of developing type 2 diabetes from 16 to 35%.

Also from the Nurses’ Health and the Health Professionals Follow-up study, it was stated that for each additional serving per day of red meat or processed red meat was correlated with a 10 and 16% increase in cancer death, respectively. There is research stating that consuming a lot of red meat and processed meat is correlated with an increased risk of colon cancer.

A low carbohydrate, high-protein diet increases acidity throughout the body, resulting in a subclinical chronic metabolic acidosis, which promotes calcium loss from the skeletal system. Osteoblasts and osteoclasts respond to small changes in pH in the body, so a small decrease in pH causes a large release of bone resorption. A study of young women on a metabolic diet showed that changing dietary protein intake creates the bone turnover along with renal calcium excretion, raises urinary N-telopeptide concentrations, and raised parathyroid hormone levels, which all have negative impacts throughout the body.

As observed, there are numerous studies concluding that a high-protein diet has a negative impact on the body, affecting most body systems. Simply increasing the risk of developing cancer 4 times and the risk of dying 74% from any cause from a high protein diet was recently observed in a recent study. Eating less meat and more fruits and vegetables lessens preterm delivery for expecting mothers. Worsening chronic kidney disease increases for those with kidney issues on a high protein diet. Cardiovascular disease incidence increases with high protein consumption. Lastly, a high protein diet alters pH levels, creating an acidic environment, with alters all body systems.

The answer?

Eat a plant based diet high in vegetables, sprouts, seeds, nuts avocados and olives and eat as much as you can living/raw. Remember where does an elephant get it’s protein from? The leaves and grass it eats has just the right amount, not too much, not too little. It must be enough because elephants are the largest land animals with the largest muscles. Even look at apes who are three times the weight of a man but 30 times as strong. Apes do not eat meat, chicken, fish, milk or cheese. How do they get so strong? They eat a living/raw plant diet very high in greens.

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