10 Benefits of Raw Organic Protein Powder
I have used a variety of protein powders over the past 20 years, but it was not until this year that I started using a raw organic protein powder.
I started making protein shakes for breakfast when I was an undergraduate student. They gave me the energy I needed to stay awake during my morning classes. I am not a morning person. I have been known to hit the snooze button one too many times! Plus, I can only handle ½ cup of coffee in the morning.
Sadly, back then, I wasn’t really paying attention to ingredients labels. I also purchased several of my personal care, cosmetic and nutrition products based on their price!
I only wish I had known what I know today 20 years ago.
And I certainly did not know anything about the negative health effects of soy or whey. I consumed both soy and whey protein powders for many years. Whey protein always made me feel bloated. I found it hard to digest and I never liked the taste. I was using soy protein right up until 2010 when I developed hyperthyroidism, Grave’s Disease and stage 4 endometriosis all in the same year. I have not eaten any soy products since then.
I have come a long way!
My purpose for writing this blog is not to bash other companies but educate you about the different types of protein powder; health risks associated with non-organic raw protein powder; health dangers of soy and whey protein; protein powder comparisons/reviews; and benefits of raw organic protein powder.
Types of Protein Powder – Protein 101
Protein is an important building block of your cells; it forms the foundation of your heart, lungs and DNA; replenishes your muscles; and drives essential biological processes such as cell growth and metabolism. Protein is an essential part of your diet! Your body also needs a lot of protein in order to carry out these essential biological processes and function properly. Do you get enough protein? Is all protein created equal? For more information about protein, check out my blog post – Discover What Is In Protein? Where to Find the Best Organic Protein Powder?
As a nutritionist and biologist, you should be getting the majority of your protein from whole food sources. There is nothing wrong with using a protein powder but not all protein powders are created equal or healthy for you. This is why it is important to understand the different types of protein powders on the market and how they are processed.
Raw organic protein powder is the best because it is minimally processed and dried naturally or using low-heat to avoid protein denaturation. High heat can denature proteins reducing their availability to your body. No artificial ingredients! No fillers, additives or preservatives! No growth hormones or antibiotics! No GMOs! No chemicals!
Protein powders tend to fall into two categories:
Protein Concentrate vs. Isolate
Protein powders are concentrated by removing the non-protein parts using heat and acid or enzymes. This results in a powder that is 60 to 80% pure protein with the remaining percentage consisting mostly of carbohydrates and fat. Protein isolates are formed by taking the concentration process further yielding a powder that is up to 95% pure protein.
Protein concentrates and isolates can also be hydrolyzed. During this process, the protein is exposed to further heating with acid or enzymes that break apart the bonds linking the amino acids. This allows the protein to be absorbed more quickly by your body.
Complete vs. Incomplete Protein
Some amino acids cannot be produced by the body known as essential amino acids. Complete proteins contain all nine essential amino acids. Incomplete proteins contain some but not all of the essential amino acids.
Types of Protein Powder
Whey protein comes from milk. During cheese-making, it is the liquid that separates from the curds. It is high in protein, but contains lactose which many people have difficulty digesting. Whey is also an acidic inflammatory food and should not be consumed by individuals with autoimmune conditions such as Crohn’s and colitis.
Casein protein also comes from dairy. Casein is produced using a separation process applied to milk that can concentrate or isolate the milk protein from the carbs and fats.
Egg protein comes from eggs! It is a complete protein made by separating the yolks and dehydrating the egg whites.
Soy protein is concentrated or isolated after the soy beans have been hulled and dried into soy flour. It is one of the few plant protein sources that contain all of the essential amino acids.
Brown Rice Protein
Yes, there is protein in brown rice! Rice protein is another plant-based option. It is not considered a complete protein because it is too low in lysine.
Hemp protein is derived from the seeds of the cannabis plant but only contains a trace amount of the psychoactive component tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). It is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and several essential amino acids. It is not considered a complete protein because it is low in lysine and leucine.
Pea protein is made from the yellow split pea, a high-fiber legume that contains high amounts of all the essential amino acids except methionine. It is rich in branched-chain amino acids.
Mixed Plant Protein
Some protein powders contain a mixture of plant sources to provide a complete protein with all of the essential amino acids. Mixed plant protein powders typically contain a combination of two or more of the following proteins: brown rice, pea, hemp, alfalfa, chia seeds, flaxseeds, artichoke or quinoa.
Health Risks of Non-Organic Raw Protein Powder
The issues with using a non-organic raw protein powder is that the powder most likely contains one or more of the following: heavy metals, hormones and antibiotics, chemicals, pesticides, artificial sweeteners, sugars, artificial flavors and colours, GMOs, fillers, additives and preservatives, highly processed denatured proteins, and synthetic nutrients which are not easily absorbed by your body.
A Consumers Reports investigation found low to moderate levels of lead, arsenic, and mercury in many well-known protein powders.
Most protein powders on the market are not certified organic. Many are also non-GMO project verified. This means they most likely contain GMOs and pesticides. There are no mandatory safety assessments required before GMOs are allowed in our food. GMOs have contributed to more toxic pesticide usage since their inception. There are no long term human studies done on GMOs to prove they are safe. GMOs are responsible for killing bee colonies.
In addition, protein powders are not regulated by the FDA. Many mass-produced protein powders come from India and China. Their ingredients are not regulated for quality or impurities.
Most soy protein and other plant protein powders are processed using hexane. Hexane is a chemical neurotoxin derived from petroleum that can damage your central nervous system.
Many protein powders are made using high temperature processing methods which denature proteins and destroy the healthy nutrients found in the protein making it harder for your body to digest it.
Even healthy protein powders contain highly processed ingredients such as natural flavors, maltodextrin, soy and sunflower lecithin, gums, and sugar.
The FDA states that as long as an ingredient originated from a natural source, food corporations are allowed to call it a ‘natural flavor.’ These companies are also allowed to add harmful chemicals and other nasty stuff to their ‘natural flavors.’ Here is a list of a few nasty ingredients lurking in natural flavors: polypropylene glycol (found in antifreeze), BHA (known carcinogen), MSG, and GMOs.
Maltodextrin is a highly processed food additive usually made from genetically modified corn. Protein companies use it to make their products mix easier.
Soy and sunflower lecithin are common food additives used to thicken protein powders. Soy lecithin is made from soybean oil (GMO unless it says ‘organic’ or ‘non-GMO verified’) and extracted from raw soybeans using a chemical solvent, usually hexane, then dried and bleached.
Xanthan gum is usually produced by bacterial fermentation of a GMO-containing substance such as corn, soy, dairy or wheat. You need to purchase a protein powder that states on the packaging that it was made using non-GMO xanthan gum.
There are a lot of hidden names for sugar, many which are derived from GMO corn such as syrup, juice, fructose, and sweetener. Artificial sweeteners like aspartame (Equal and NutraSweet), saccharin (Sweet ‘n Low and SugarTwin), sucralose (Splenda) and acesulfame potassium are even worse.
Protein powders can also contain ‘natural’ sugars such as sugar cane, stevia, xylitol and erythritol. Xylitol and erythritol are sugar alcohols. Xylitol is often derived from GMO corn using a chemical processing method called sugar hydrogenation.
Whole stevia leaf powder in its natural state is a healthy, green all-natural sweetener. Most food companies use a chemically-altered, bleached, and stripped down version that is likely to contain GMO fillers.
The Health Dangers of Soy
Who has not heard of the marvels of soy? It has been touted as the ultimate health food for decades. Sadly, unfermented soy is not healthy for you at all. There have been thousands of studies linking soy to malnutrition, digestives issues, immune system breakdown, thyroid dysfunction, cognitive decline, reproductive disorders, infertility, breast cancer and heart disease.
Contrary to what you believe, Asians do not consume large amounts of soy. They use soy as a condiment, in small amounts (about two teaspoons daily), and not as a primary protein source. The type of soy they consume is traditionally fermented soy such as miso, tempeh and natto.
The issue with most soy today is it contains high amounts of phytoestrogens which are estrogen mimickers in your body. If you are a male consuming extra estrogen, you will develop more feminine characteristics. It can lead to a testosterone imbalance, infertility, low sperm count and increased risk of cancers. If you are a woman, it increases your risk of breast cancer, cervical cancer, PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) and other hormone imbalance-related disorders.
Another issue is most soy today is genetically modified (over 99%). Genetically modified foods are linked to many health problems because they kill off the good bacteria in your gut.
Soy also contains protease inhibitors and high levels of phytic acids. Protease inhibitors block the enzymes necessary for the digestion of certain proteins. Phytic acids block the body’s ability to absorb important minerals such as zinc, calcium, copper, iron and magnesium.
Goitrogens found in soy are potent anti-thyroid compounds that can lead to endocrine disruption and thyroid disorders.
Is soy bad for you? The majority (roughly 95%) of soy products you purchase today, including soy protein powder, are bad for you. This is because the soy used in these products is unfermented, GMO and toxic to your system.
If you want to include soy in your diet and reap the health benefits, you need to consume fermented soy such as natto and in small amounts.
The bodybuilding industry is a big promoter of whey protein. The FDA does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. For safety concerns, remember to always read product labels. I am not opposed to the use of protein supplements. I use a raw organic protein powder myself. However, I have a lot of issues with whey protein.
If you look at whey protein from an evolutionary standpoint, the nutrient composition of whey protein and other dairy products make it inferior to other types of foods our pre-agricultural ancestors consumed. Whey protein powders have an unbalanced nutrient composition and poor micronutrient profile when compared to meat, fish and eggs. It is also a highly processed food.
Milk is not the pure white liquid, high in calcium, vitamin D and other vitamins and minerals portrayed by milk manufacturers and their lobbyists. You may not know it, but milk is essentially nothing more than filtered cow’s blood. As such, it contains almost all of the hormones, immunological factors and body altering proteins that are found in pure cow blood.
Several studies have shown that consumption of whey protein can promote acne formation. One explanation for this is whey protein may destabilize the gut microbiota thereby possibly triggering inflammation. Other possible explanations are:
- the hormones and bio-active peptides present in whey protein may increase sebum production and/or proliferation of Propionibacterium acnes
- many protein powders contain heavy metals and other ingredients that lack safety data which may be associated with the development of acneiform lesions
- milk derivatives induce a marked increase in insulin-like growth factor 1 levels
Whey can also raise insulin levels.
A lot of commercial whey is highly processed and contains added sugar, artificial ingredients, additives and other nasty stuff. These artificial ingredients may promote sugar cravings, glucose intolerance and/or fat gain.
Remember whey is a dairy product! The whey used in many whey protein powders comes from cows treated with antibiotics and growth hormones. High heat is used during processing denaturing proteins.
Benefits of Vegan/Pea Protein
I love pea protein!!! This is the type of certified raw organic protein powder that I use on a daily basis. When pea protein is mixed with brown rice and/or other plant proteins, it gives you a complete amino acid profile.
Pea protein has so many benefits. It is hypoallergenic, high in branched chain amino acids, easy to digest, 100% vegan, mixes easily with water, helps you feel fuller longer, low in carbohydrates and gluten free. Not to mention dairy free!
- aids in weight loss
- supports a healthy heart
- increases muscle thickness
- may decrease your risk of kidney disease
- regulates blood sugar
Way to go pea protein!
10 Benefits of Raw Organic Protein Powder
- Contains high levels of branched-chain amino acids to help boost the immune system and increase the production of glutathione, a natural antioxidant.
- Hypoallergenic and suitable for people with intolerances to soy, dairy, wheat and eggs.
- Raw protein is absorbed rapidly in the intestines (helps with quick recovery after a workout).
- No growth hormones or antibiotics! Livestock are often treated with hormones, steroids and antibiotics. Livestock are also routinely fed by-product feed. This feed can include chewing gum, heat-treated garbage or other junk food. Remember, you are what they ate. Do you know what is in your whey or casein protein?
- No GMOS, synthetic/artificial ingredients or chemicals! No fillers, additives or preservatives! No pesticides!
- Environmentally sustainable protein. Animal proteins are expensive and costly for our planet. It takes a lot of energy, water, carbon dioxide production and creates pollution to make animal-based protein. Manufacturing plant-based protein requires less land, water and other resources.
- The protein is minimally processed and dried naturally or using low-heat to avoid protein denaturation. High heat can denature proteins reducing their availability to your body.
- Highly nutritious and easily digestible! Plant-based protein helps boost your metabolism and helps you feel fuller longer.
- Clean, raw, pure organic plant protein. Look for certified organic protein powder by the ACO and USDA. This means the product’s ingredients have been validated by an independent third party.
- Regulated for quality and impurities.
The Best Protein Powder
I recommend Miessence Complete Protein powder for several reasons:
- No gluten, wheat, vegan, egg, soy, dairy, whey, artificial flavours, sweeteners or preservatives
- Certified organic, sprouted and biofermented, raw protein
- Certified organic by the USDA and ACO
- High in protein, low carbohydrate, optimally balanced amino acid profile and easily digestible
- Made with certified organic bio-fermented pea protein, organic sprouted brown rice protein, organic sacha inchi protein, non-gmo xanthan gum, and luo han fruit concentrate
- Only 123 mg of sodium
- No maltodextrin
- Only 5 ingredients!!!!
- No steroids or hormones or by-product feed
If you are not buying a certified raw organic protein powder, make sure you carefully research the product and company before buying it. Pay close attention to the labeling of the protein powder and never assume anything about the quality of ingredients, manufacturing or extraction methods unless it is clearly stated.
Non-organic raw protein powder usually contains one or more of the following: heavy metals, hormones and antibiotics, chemicals, pesticides, artificial sweeteners, sugars, artificial flavors and colours, GMOs, fillers, additives and preservatives, highly processed denatured proteins, and synthetic nutrients which are not easily absorbed by your body.
In my opinion, certified raw organic protein powders are the way to go!
Don’t forget to check out my blog Protein Powder Reviews for 14 MLM Companies!
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