A Case of Protein Poisoning

David looked really bad. His face was covered with red, rash-like bumps and his eyes were swollen. "My mouth and throat," he said, "feel like you poured burning chemicals down them. I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn't breathe," he gasped, "and my nose feels like a huge sore."

David thought he had an allergy, but there was another name for his condition—proteinosis, or poisoning by protein foods.

It was the week after Thanksgiving and David had been to a family reunion. "I never ate so much turkey and ham in my life," he told me. "Everybody brought platters and platters of meat, and I had to sample them all. I also ate a lot of desserts. It must have been something in the food I was allergic to that made my face swell up like this."

It was indeed "something" in the food that had caused David's condition, but it wasn't some mysterious hidden allergen. No, what made David so sick, so miserable was simply an excessive amount of animal protein.

Protein in large amounts, and of the wrong type, can poison you as surely as any other substance taken in excess of the body's true needs. In fact, what many people call allergies are often symptoms of proteinosis. When you consider the super-high protein diet that most people in this country eat, it is no surprise that a majority of the population is suffering from a continual low-level of protein poisoning.

That's right—protein, the food item so widely hailed and promoted by nutritionists and meat industry spokesmen, can cause serious harm when ingested in amounts in excess of the body's needs.

Too Much Of A "Good Thing"?

You've heard bad stories about fats in the diet, and even carbohydrate foods (especially refined sugars and starches) take a beating from weight-conscious individuals. But you probably never thought you would hear a bad word about protein.

Protein does the glamour jobs in the body. It builds muscle, hair, skin, and nails. Enzymes, hormones, hemoglobin, and antibodies are also made from protein, and everyone knows that protein (or amino acids) is essential for the healthy growth of the young.

All true. Protein does a vital job of keeping the body maintained, but it is required in far lower amounts than commonly consumed by the average person.

Well, so what? If protein is so vital for our well-being, then doesn't it make sense that a lot more protein would make you a lot more healthy? After all, you really can't get too much of a good thing, can you?

As with anything else taken into the body, the nutrient protein must either be used, stored, or eliminated by the body. If more protein than can be used is eaten, then it is converted into stored fuel for the body. Along with this converting of protein to stored fuel, toxins or nitrogenous waste products are produced from the extra protein. The toxins or by-products from this protein conversion consist of nitrogen or ammonia-like compounds, and are eliminated from the body via the kidneys.

When protein is consumed in greater amounts than can be processed, toxicity of the blood will result from the excessive amount of nitrogen in the blood. Excessive nitrogen impairs working capacity, and the accumulation of a nitrogen product, kinotoxin, in the muscles, causes fatigue.

Partially or incompletely digested proteins cannot be assimilated, and poisons are absorbed into the blood. Various symptoms of protein poisoning are experienced by different individuals, including burning of mouth, lips and throat, skin symptoms, nasal symptoms, and other signs of intolerance of certain foods and other substances, known as allergies.

In proteinosis, or acute protein poisoning, there is general aching and a bad headache. Hyperproteina is caused by incompletely digested protein due to impaired digestion or bad combination of foods and may be thrown off as mucus, and might also cause aching and headaches.

Can you get too much of a good thing? If the "thing" is protein, the answer is yes. High protein intake forces extra work on the body. It must convert the protein to fuel and eliminate the harmful acids created in the process of digestion. Acid saturation of the body cells, due to excessive protein intake, can quite simply cause death. Perhaps a better question is: how "good" a thing is protein anyway?

The Problems With Protein

The following conditions may result from too much protein in the diet:

  1. Heart disease
  2. Kidney damage
  3. Constipation
  4. Tumors and cancerous growths
  5. Biochemical imbalances in the tissues (overacidity)
  6. Arthritis
  7. Bone-loss (osteoporosis)

Let’s look at some of these problems caused by an excessive protein diet in more detail.

Eat Your Meat, Lose Your Bones

As people on a traditional diet grow older, they often experience “bone loss” or osteoporosis. Bone loss usually occurs more often in elderly women than anyone else, but almost everyone who eats a high-meat and protein diet will suffer from some amount of bone loss, and this includes children as well as mature adults. Bone loss, or osteoporosis, occurs when calcium is removed from the bones of the body in order to fulfill the body’s metabolic requirements for this stored mineral. Why does the body need so much calcium that it must rob its own bones?

Quite simply, the answer, according to medical researcher Dr. Robert Heaney, is that “the more protein you take in, the more calcium you excrete.” His studies have shown that a diet that contains 50% more protein than is needed may result in as much as one percent loss of bone per year. Since almost every woman (and man) in this country exceeds the 50% excessive protein amount, bone loss does occur in about 98% of the population,. What are the dangers of the bone loss?

One of the most obvious signs of bone loss occurs around the teeth and under the gum lines of the mouth. As bone is lost or removed from the jaw, the teeth loosen and eventually decay or fall out. Most so-called gum disease in this country comes from bone loss.

Another very obvious danger of bone loss is the tendency of older people to crack their bones after a minor fall. The hips especially are susceptible to bone loss in elderly women, and there have been many instances where these women’s hips have actually snapped under the body’s own weight.

A high-protein diet can cause a total bone loss of 1 % or more per year. This means that a normally healthy woman of 25 years could lose up to half of her bone structure by the time she reaches 75 years, if she continues to eat the typical high-meat, high-protein diet of twentieth-century America.

Protein: A Kick In The Kidneys

If protein is not needed by the body for tissue synthesis (or rebuilding the body), it is returned to the liver. In the liver a process called deamination takes place which separates the amino acids into a nitrogenous residue and non-nitrogenous residue. The nitrogen portion undergoes a series of chemical changes and is converted into urea by the liver and excreted in the urine.

Intake of protein greatly in excess of the body’s needs creates extra work for the liver. Excessive protein also creates extra work for the kidneys. Ideally, it is their job to remove excess acids, the deaminated group of chemicals being most suitably disposed of when excreted as urea.

When a high-protein diet is followed, the kidneys soon become overworked as they try to eliminate all the toxic by-products of protein metabolism. David A. Phillips, a Hygienist author and lecturer from Australia, observes that: “The premature breakdown of kidneys in the Western world no longer surprises one when it is realized that the body’s protein intake has risen all out of proportion to its needs.” This condition is unfortunately compounded when the nature of the protein is more complex and more prone to create a high-acid residue, such as characterizes animal proteins.

Dr. Herbert M. Shelton, writing on the effects of a high-protein diet on the kidneys, states: “In middle-aged adults perfectly normal kidneys are the exception rather than the rule. By a careful selection of a low-nitrogen (low-protein) diet, it is possible to reduce the amount of work required of the kidneys to a level at which they are able to keep the waste products in the blood within normal limits.”

Uric acid in the bloodstream, besides overworking the kidneys, is a preliminary to the later development of gout or arthritis, both conditions being invariably traceable to excessive, unsuitable protein in the diet.

Protein: Are Those Just Rumors About Tumors?

According to a recent popular survey, one of the things that Americans fear more than death itself is cancer and the painful, lingering death that ensues. And no wonder. Cancer seems to creep up on us in the twilight of our lives—silent, unwarning, implacable, and uncontrollable. It is the death sentence that twentieth century man passes upon himself, and we fear it as much as any inevitable executioner or, faceless murderer.

Yet we create cancer in our own bodies with every bite we take of processed, refined, and preserved foods. And the biggest offenders are the traditional high-protein foods—cheese, eggs, and especially meat.

In 1982, the National Academy of Sciences suggested that there is a strong link between animal product foods high in protein and occurring cancers of the breast, prostrate, and colon. In fact, Dr. Colin Campbell, a member of the panel who studied the link between diet and cancer had this to say:

“The weight of the evidence certainly points to a link between high-protein foods and resultant cancers. You don’t hear too much about it because consumption of animal products is a big industry in this country. It’s also a status symbol. But the result is that there’s a higher level of breast cancer here than in countries where people eat fewer animal products.”

By now it should be old news that cancer is related to the consumption of animal products high in fat (meat, dairy products, eggs, etc.). Heavy beef eating is directly related to the high incidence of colon and rectum cancer in this and other predominantly meat-eating populations. Almost ten years ago, Dr. Ernest Wynder announced to the Greater Boston Medical Society that dietary fat and animal protein combine with bacteria in the colon to form acids which are linked to tumor formations. He also said that evidence furthermore shows that such high-protein, high-fat foods are also implicated in tumors of the breast, pancreas, kidneys, ovaries, and prostrate.

Although animal protein is the biggest offender, all high and concentrated protein foods have the potential of becoming carcinogenic. Excessive protein, whether from animals or vegetable sources (seeds, nuts, beans, grains), decomposes or rots in the stomach and turns into poisonous ammonia. This ammonia in turn produces nitrosamines. Nitrosamines, according to biochemist Dr. Lijinsky, are “among the most potent cancer-causing chemicals known.”

Malignant tumors require amino acids for growth that only protein foods can supply. The high-protein requirement for cancerous growths comes, as a rule, from eating animal carcasses (meat). Tumors have been described by some researchers as “traps” for excess nitrogen in the body. In controlled experiments, the rate of a tumorous growth increased twice as fast when concentrated protein was added to the diet.

Many recovered cancer patients must limit their protein intake so severely that they cannot eat even the vegetable foods high in protein. In her book How I Conquered Cancer Naturally, Eydie Mae Hunsberger described how fasting and a raw food diet allowed her to overcome breast cancer. In the book, she states how she must avoid all high-protein foods, even peas and beans. “I go easy on the proteins,” she said, “because cancer patients have a protein digestive problem. Soy products, for example, are too high in protein for me. If I want protein foods, I choose avocados, almonds, sunflower seeds, and sprouts.”

The demand for protein by cancerous cells is almost ten times the amount as required by healthy tissues. Sufficient protein builds healthy bodies. Excessive protein builds tumors.

The High-Protein, Low-Health Weight-Loss Diet

By just following the typical United States diet of heavy animal foods, meat, and dairy, you will experience many problems associated with a high-protein diet. The average American woman consumes 50% more protein than the Recommended Daily Amount (RDA), while the typical male will eat almost 100% (twice as much) more protein than the RDA. Please remember that all RDAs are set intentionally “high” to make sure that people get all the nutrients they need. Even by these high standards, Americans are heavy protein eaters.

Yet there are some people who intentionally consume even more protein!

Athletes, weight-lifters, and body-builders are some of the people who consciously eat extra high-protein foods in a mistaken belief that such foods are needed for energy. Yet there are some people who increase their protein intake and reduce their carbohydrate intake in a bizarre effort to lose weight fast. On such a diet, weight-loss and a health-loss do occur. The rationale of high-protein diets for weight loss, such as the Stillman high-protein diet or Dr. Linn’s liquid protein diet, is based on the fact that protein requires much more body energy for digestion and metabolism than it supplies.

The body’s first nutrient need is for fuel—carbohydrates. When excessive protein is eaten instead of needed carbohydrates, the body will try to convert the extra protein into a carbohydrate-type of fuel source. This conversion process is a difficult and energy-expending one for the body, and so a net-calorie or weight loss may occur.

The problem with this attempt at weight loss with a high-protein diet is that harmful by-products are produced in the protein to carbohydrate conversion process. Dr. Robert R. Gross, Ph.D., New York professional Hygienist, stated the problem this way: “The hitch is the end products of protein digestion are acidic—urea, uric acids, adenine, etc., which, beyond a certain normal range, will cause degeneration of body tissues, producing gout, liver malfunctions, kidney disorders, digestive disturbances, arthritis and even hallucinations.”

Dr. D. J. Scott, D.C., N.D., Ohio professional Hygienist, also agrees that weight-loss through high-protein diets is a dangerous practice. He says: “Too much protein solidifies (like coffee) and has the same stimulating effect, and a high-protein diet will eventually destroy the glandular system, and damage the liver, adrenals and kidneys.”

You Can’t Fool The Body!

High-protein diets for weight-loss are all based on fooling the body. Instead of giving it the carbohydrate fuel it needs, you fill the body with acid-forming protein that must be expensively converted into fuel within the body. It’s like pouring water into your gasoline tank and hoping that your car will try to turn it into suitable fuel. Your body does try, but it really can’t be fooled. Consider these latest research findings:

At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a husband and wife research team, Drs. Judith and Richard Wurtman, discovered that you simply cannot deny the body carbohydrates in preference to protein. In a controlled study, the researchers studied people who were denied carbohydrate foods (such as fruits, potatoes, etc.) and fed protein foods instead.

After a few days, the people on the no-carbohydrate diet did indeed lose weight. But they also developed such strong cravings for any kind of carbohydrates that they uncontrollably ate sugary and starchy foods in such amounts after the diet that they gained all their weight back.

In the January 1983 issue of the Journal of Nutrition, the MIT researchers concluded that carbohydrate-starvation caused by a high-protein weight-loss diet actually creates a chemical imbalance in the brain.

This imbalance drives people to seek out carbohydrates (which is only natural since carbohydrates are our most efficient fuel source). The desire for a predominantly carbohydrate, low-protein diet is inherent in the human make-up, and it cannot be fooled by a high protein diet.

The article in the journal also suggested that instead of a high-protein approach to weight loss, a more natural and healthy approach would be to eat small amounts of naturally occurring high-carbohydrate foods (such as fruits) and forget about the protein.

The Ultimate High-Protein Diet

What’s worse than a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet for losing weight? Answer: An all-protein diet. Incredible as it may seem, there were thousands of people in the late 1970s who followed a high-protein, weight-loss diet that consisted of nothing more than highly-processed animal protein, sugar, and artificial coloring.

Called “liquid protein,” the only foods consumed in this diet were vials of animal extracts that contained hooves from cows and other animal waste products from slaughter houses. This “protein” (actually the unusable by-products from meat-packing) was liquified or melted down and then artificially flavored and colored so that it would taste like a grape or cherry soda. You can imagine how melted cow hooves would taste—small wonder that they had to disguise the obnoxious odors and sickening taste of such a product.

Each day, a person would open a plastic tube of this pure protein “gunk” and squeeze it down the throat. The protein syrup would fill the person up at a low-calorie cost, and weight loss would follow.

Unfortunately, not only did weight loss occur, but so did vomiting, dehydration, muscle cramps, nausea, dry skin, and loss of hair. In the late 1970s, the liquid protein diet craze was at its peak. Thousands and thousands of vile vials of grape- and cherry-flavored protein were sold to gullible men and women who proceeded to wreck their health on a dangerous 100% protein diet. To be certain, these people were also losing weight. And some even lost more. In Dix Hills, New York, Donna Cochran began an eight-month  Super Pro-Gest liquid protein diet. First Mrs. Cochran lost sixty pounds on the diet. Then she lost her life. She dieted because of heart complications brought about by the all-protein diet. Her husband and son sued and received $55,000—a small amount indeed for a loved one’s life.

Liquid-protein diets can cause hard-to-detect, and possibly fatal, heart problems. The all-protein diet, disrupts the body’s mineral balance, and drastically reduces the potassium level. This dangerously reduced potassium level leads to arrhythmia, or the abnormal beating of the heart.

The liquid or all-protein diet was first developed by a doctor who got the idea from intravenous feeding. Just like intravenous feeding, the liquid-protein diet is an unnatural and debilitating practice. Fortunately, word has now gotten around about the dangers of this all-protein diet trick. Unfortunately, people still believe in the power of a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet for weight loss, and think it is safe.

The True Needs Of The Body

Carbohydrates—Not Protein

Carbohydrates in their natural forms of fresh and dried fruits and some vegetables should always be used in preference to concentrated protein foods. People who consciously reduce the amount of complex carbohydrates in the diet and eat more protein foods instead in an attempt to lose weight or “improve” their health are playing a dangerous game. Listen to what Dr. Helen C. Kiefer of the Northwestern University Medical School has to say about the relative importance of carbohydrates and proteins in a well-balanced diet:

“Carbohydrates must not fall below a certain limiting amount in any diet, or we run the risk of ending up in an unhealthy metabolic state; or, perhaps worse over the long run, we may waste the body’s protein stores from tissues such as muscle to prevent this unhealthy metabolic state.”

meat

“Proteins, unlike carbohydrates or fats, contain the element nitrogen. When we strip this nitrogen from the amino acid components of proteins in order to convert them to carbohydrates for energy, we run the risk of building up ammonia in our bloodstreams. Ammonia is highly toxic.

After detailing the dangers of ammonia and other protein by-products in the bloodstream, Dr. Kiefer gives this unqualified endorsement of a predominantly carbohydrate-based diet over the typical protein diet used for both weight loss and as a regular diet by so many people:

“An appropriate level of the oft-maligned carbohydrate is perhaps the best protection in any diet. It protects the need of the brain cells for carbohydrates; the need to metabolize fats for energy without increasing the acid load of the bloodstream; the protection of protein in tissue and the prevention of excess nitrogen excretion when protein components (amino acids) must be used for energy.”

Sufficient Protein: It’s Easy!

Protein needs and requirements are incredibly low for a healthy person. In fact, one measure of a person’s health is how much protein they must consume to maintain their body weight. Sick and diseased people crave large amounts of protein for stimulation for their exhausted bodies. Healthy people, on the other hand, can function very well on about one-fifth of the protein the average American consumes.

How can we make sure that we get enough protein, but not too much? Easy. Just eliminate all substandard, harmful, and processed foods from the diet and eat an abundance of fresh fruits with some vegetables, sprouts, and nuts or seeds (if desired). All of these foods can be eaten in their raw state, and (with the exception of nuts and seeds) are low in concentrated protein. Yet these foods do supply all the essential amino acids that we need for a healthy life. More importantly, the foods of the Life Science diet supply us with an abundance of natural carbohydrates—our body’s number one nutrient need. In addition, we receive a full array of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and yet undiscovered elements from these fresh and wholesome foods packaged by nature.

A true protein deficiency on a calorie-sufficient diet is a rarity. Cancers from a high-protein diet are all, too common. Say “No!” to the propaganda and misinformation that is circulating about any supposed benefits of a high-protein diet. Say “Yes!” to the health-promoting and nutrient-abundant diet of fresh raw fruits, vegetables, sprouts, and seeds.

Frequently Asked Questions

I feel so good after eating several high-protein meals. I feel like I could fight a tiger! How could that be bad?

There is a very good reason that you feel so "energetic" or stimulated after a high-protein meal. The chemical composition of uric acid, a by-product of protein metabolism, is remarkably similar to that of caffeine. You're not getting any energy from the high-protein meals, you're receiving chemical stimulation. Heavy protein eaters are always "high" on drugs—either from the stimulating effects of the uric acid by-products, or they may actually become intoxicated on the alcohol that forms in the body from protein fermentation. And please—don't go around fighting any tigers; they're almost as dangerous as those high-protein meals you're putting away.

Well, then, is protein bad? Should I just not eat any protein foods ever again?

Better not stop eating all protein foods, or you may go hungry! All our biologically-correct foods (such as fruits, sprouts, vegetables, etc.) contain ample protein in the form of easily assimilable amino acids. No, protein is not "bad." But protein from animal sources is harmful because of all the accompanying toxins, fats, etc. And excessive protein, whether from plants or animals, is always harmful.

Okay, so how much protein is too much? What do you mean by excessive?

If you eat any of the foods that are not suitable for our physiology (and this includes all meats, dairy products, eggs, and other animal products), then you will be getting too much protein. If you overeat the substandard foods such as legumes and grains, you will be getting more protein than is probably needed. To guard yourself against excessive protein intake, follow these simple rules: 1) Never eat any animal products. 2) If you eat concentrated protein foods from the plant kingdom, such as beans, peas, grains, soy products, then eat these no more than once every day or two. 3) Do not overeat on nuts and seeds. If you want more calories, or need to feel "full," then reach for some fruits, fresh or dried, instead of more nuts.

I was believing most of what you said until you told me that protein causes cancer. Come on! Everybody eats protein and we've eaten lots of it over the years. Why don't we all drop dead from cancer? 

There is no single cause for cancer or any other illness. All such conditions take years of poor living, eating, and exercise habits to develop. The facts are this: Most cancer patients have a history of moderate to heavy meat-eating with liberal use of fatty animal products and processed protein foods. Dr. Frank Madden of the Egyptian School of Medicine in Cairo, Egypt, conducted an extensive study of cancer throughout Egypt. He found that the tribes in Egypt who lived on an almost exclusively vegetarian diet (the Sudanese and Berberines) never experience cancer. Never. On the other hand, cancer was very common among the Arabs and Copts who followed the traditional high-protein, high-meat  European diet. You cannot say that protein "causes" cancer, nor can you even say that meat-eating causes cancer. But you can most assuredly state that the usual overall lifestyle and attitude that accompanies heavy meat and protein eating certainly seems to foster the development of all forms of cancer throughout the world.

One last question. My friends and I have tried the high-protein diet in the past for weight loss. We only stayed on the diet for about six weeks, and we lost ten to fifteen pounds. It does work! Shouldn't we judge only by the results?

This reminds me of a story about a salesman who went door to door, selling what he said was a guaranteed method of weight loss. He sold a small box that would take off pounds or your money back. Inside the box was a knife and the following instructions: "1) Sterilize knife. 2) Carve away unwanted pounds."

Hopefully, all of his customers took the package as a joke or novelty item. Unfortunately, it does illustrate how far some people will go to lose weight without changing the conditions that brought about the weight gain. Sure, a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet will shed pounds, but you are not reducing—you're wasting away and wrecking your health. Are you sure these are the results you want?

Reader Interactions