Is Protein Powder Healthy?
Besides the concern of actual toxins in your product one should also consider the relative merits of the different kinds of protein and carbohydrates involved.
Protein #1 Soy:
In the past, most protein powders were focused on soy protein There has been a lot of recent concern for various problems associated with it.
- Raw soybeans contain a form of phytic acid that can block certain mineral absorption.
- Soy contains goitrogens: substances that block the synthesis of thyroid hormones and interfere with iodine metabolism, thereby interfering with your thyroid function. Since many people suffer from an underactive thyroid, this is worth considering.
- Soy can possibly negatively affect estrogen levels in the body.
- Soy foods contain anti-nutritional factors such as saponins, soyatoxin, phytates, protease inhibitors, oxalates, goitrogens and estrogens. Some of these factors interfere with the enzymes you need to digest protein.
- Soy contains hemagglutinin: a clot-promoting substance that causes your red blood cells to clump together. These clumped cells are unable to properly absorb and distribute oxygen to your tissues.
Dr. Mercola lists a number of health challenges associated with soy, including:
- Breast cancer
- Brain damage
- Infant abnormalities
- Thyroid disorders
- Kidney stones
- Immune system impairment
- Severe, potentially fatal food allergies
- Impaired fertility
- Danger during pregnancy and nursing
The Chinese have been using soy for centuries but only if it was fermented or properly processed. Fermented soy products include tempeh, miso, natto and soy sauce.
Also some companies claim that their particular processing methods deal with some of the soy problems. Unfortunately processing can have its own problems.
According to nutritionist Sally Fallon, author of Nourishing Traditions: “manufacturing soy protein isolate involves acid washing in aluminum tanks that leeches high levels of aluminum into the final product. Nitrites are formed during spray drying, and numerous artificial flavorings, including MSG, are added to improve taste. These chemicals are associated with the development of Alzheimer’s disease, cancer and severe allergic reactions.”
Protein #2 Whey:
Whey protein is a byproduct of the cheese-making industry. If you are allergic to dairy products or if you cannot digest the sugar in milk products (lactose intolerant), then this clearly is an issue.
Isolated whey protein contains fewer sugars than concentrated whey protein and both have known health benefits. The Whey Protein Institute lists a host of them including positive help in general wellness, weight management, immune health, cancer prevention, gastrointestinal health, heart health and AIDS/HIV.
The benefits of whey can vary depending on the source of milk (organic grass fed cattle best) and processing.
Protein #3 Pea Protein:
A more recent addition to the popular protein area, pea protein, has many benefits. The most obvious is that it is plant-based. Also the source of this protein is the yellow pea, an environmentally safe crop that has been grown for centuries.
Protein #4 Casein:
Casein in the main protein in milk. It is more slowly absorbed, and lasts longer in the body, so is better for a meal replacement than other proteins or before bed. It is unsuitable to those with dairy sensitivities.
Other Common Questionable Ingredients:
Most people are trying to cut down on sugar because:
1. Sugar makes you fat.
2. Sugar makes you nervous.
3. Sugar depresses your immune system.
4. Sugar cause wrinkles.
5. Sugar rots your teeth.
These include Aspartame, Sucralose and Maltodextrin. There is nothing good about these and they actually cause weight gain! Read: Are You Dying to Be Thin?
Vitamins and Mineral
Unless this is a high quality shake, these isolates will often be synthetic (man made) and not extracts from whole foods. These isolates have their own problems. To learn more, read: Vitamins VS Foods
Next: Is Protein Powder Necessary?