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How Protein Impacts Gut Health

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In the early 2000s, the Atkins diet arrived on the diet scene and with it, the popularity of high protein, low carb diets emerged. Nowadays, Keto diets and Paleo diets have become more popularized, and since 2016, the demand for protein has risen 187% (1)

Protein is one of three macronutrients alongside carbohydrates and dietary fat. Short term high protein diets can aide in weight loss by increasing levels of satiation, allowing dieters to maintain caloric deficits needed to lose weight. However, these diets are not meant to be long term. 

Diet plays a key role in digestion and maintaining a healthy gut microbiome. Much is known about the positive effects non digestible fiber has on our health and immune system. These fibers are broken down and produce short term fatty acids which have anti-inflammatory effects on the body. Unfortunately, not as much is known about the effects of digesting and metabolizing protein when it comes to our health. The large intestine is responsible for the breakdown of food stuffs, nutrient absorption, and elimination of waste. (2). Protein is broken down into peptides and amino acids to be used in various systems of the body, including the gut. The large intestine metabolizes the amino acids we don’t use. Bacteria in the intestine ferments these amino acids into metabolites, which affect our metabolism, immune system, and nervous system. A high bacterial fermentation has been related to a high pH and low carbohydrate availability in the large intestine (2).

Diets high in protein and low in fiber (carbs) increase the production of these metabolites causing inflammation and adverse health effects. However, a diet high in fiber can reduce the number of harmful metabolites created by the bacteria. (3) Therefore, it appears that the amount of protein in the diet is not in and of itself harmful to the gut, but rather depends on the entire diet. Protein is not bad for your health. In fact, just the opposite, because it promotes lean muscle protein synthesis, aids in repair and recovery, hormone regulation, improves satiety, digestion and provides a fuel source for red blood cells. Rather, the volume of protein consumed and their nutrients (or lack thereof) in the diet plays a much larger role on gut health. Along with protein, it’s imperative that you take in ample carbohydrates and fiber which help reduce inflammation and maintain a healthy gut microbiome.  

If you struggle with getting adequate protein, a protein powder supplement can help bridge the gap. Just be sure the protein is high quality with no fillers, artificial ingredients, or gut disrupting additives. Protea Nutrition’s VePro contains twenty grams of organic brown rice protein and natural pea protein to supply your body with essential amino acids and non-essential amino acids that are used to support proper metabolic function and muscle recuperation.

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