Breaking News
February 23, 2019 - Prenatal Fluconazole Exposure Increases Neonatal Risks
February 23, 2019 - Mental Health Screening: MedlinePlus Lab Test Information
February 23, 2019 - Study suggests birth mechanics are part of the process that leads to autism
February 23, 2019 - Unhealthy diet linked to poor mental health
February 23, 2019 - Study gives a snapshot of crocodile evolution
February 23, 2019 - Research finds steep rise in self-poisonings among young people
February 23, 2019 - American Gastroenterological Association announces “AGA Future Leaders Program”
February 23, 2019 - Scientists uncover new mechanisms regulating neural stem cells
February 23, 2019 - Combinations of certain insecticides turn out to be lethal for honeybees
February 23, 2019 - AHA News: Why Are Black Women at Higher Risk of Dying From Pregnancy Complications?
February 23, 2019 - NIMH » Anxiety Disorders
February 23, 2019 - Autistic people urgently need access to tailored mental health support
February 23, 2019 - Newly designed molecule could benefit people with Friedrich’s Ataxia
February 23, 2019 - Chinese CRISPR twins may have better cognition and memory
February 23, 2019 - Study finds new genetic clues associated with asthma in African ancestry populations
February 23, 2019 - Fetal signaling pathways may offer future opportunities to treat lung damage
February 23, 2019 - Early-stage osteoarthritis drug wins prestigious innovation award
February 23, 2019 - Researchers report positive findings with dasotraline for ADHD in children ages 6-12
February 23, 2019 - News study reanalyzes the effects of noncaloric sweeteners on gut microbiota
February 23, 2019 - New device allows scientists to reproduce blow effects on the heart in lab
February 23, 2019 - Holy herb identified as a potential treatment for Alzheimer’s disease
February 23, 2019 - New technology platform digitally counts growth factors in single cells
February 23, 2019 - Surgery and other treatments offer viable options for adult scoliosis
February 23, 2019 - Reduced antibody adaptability may make the elderly more vulnerable to influenza
February 23, 2019 - Neighborhood income, education associated with risk of disability progression in MS patients
February 23, 2019 - Endocrine Society opposes new rule that restricts access to Title X Family Planning Program
February 23, 2019 - 2019 guidelines for management of patients with atrial fibrillation
February 23, 2019 - Surprise rheumatoid arthritis discovery points to new treatment for joint inflammation
February 23, 2019 - A just-right fix for a tiny heart
February 23, 2019 - UMass Amherst scientist explores role of citrus peel in decreasing gut inflammation
February 23, 2019 - Owlstone Medical and Shanghai Renji Hospital collaborate to initiate breath biopsy lung cancer trial
February 23, 2019 - AMSBIO’s comprehensive portfolio of knock-out cell lines and lysates
February 23, 2019 - New app reliably determines physicians’ skills in forming accurate, efficient diagnoses
February 23, 2019 - Peripheral nerve injury can trigger the onset and spread of ALS, shows study
February 23, 2019 - Researchers uncover mechanisms that prevent tooth replacement in mice
February 23, 2019 - Once-a-day capsule offers new way to reduce symptoms of chronic breathlessness
February 23, 2019 - FDA Adds Boxed Warning for Increased Risk of Death with Gout Medicine Uloric (febuxostat)
February 23, 2019 - Phone-based intervention aids rheumatoid arthritis care
February 23, 2019 - Opioid epidemic makes eastern inroads and targets African-Americans
February 23, 2019 - New identified biomarker predicts patients who might benefit from HER2-targeted agents
February 23, 2019 - Study offers new insights into mechanisms of changes in erythrocytes under stress
February 23, 2019 - Antipsychotic polypharmacy may be beneficial for schizophrenia patients
February 23, 2019 - Researchers investigate how marijuana and tobacco co-use affects quit attempts by smokers
February 23, 2019 - Patients with diabetes mellitus have high risk of stable ischemic heart disease
February 23, 2019 - Transparency on healthcare prices played key role in Arizona health system’s turnaround
February 23, 2019 - A comprehensive, multinational review of peppers around the world
February 23, 2019 - Study finds modest decrease in burnout among physicians
February 23, 2019 - A simple change can drastically reduce unnecessary tests for urinary tract infections
February 23, 2019 - Deep Learning-Enhanced Device Detects Diabetic Retinopathy
February 23, 2019 - Researchers discover new binding partner for amyloid precursor protein
February 23, 2019 - Modest decrease seen in burnout among physicians, researchers say | News Center
February 23, 2019 - Transplanting bone marrow of young mice into old mice prevents cognitive decline
February 23, 2019 - Mogrify to accelerate novel IP and cell therapies using $3.7m USD funding
February 23, 2019 - Johns Hopkins study describes cells that may help speed bone repair
February 23, 2019 - Scientists demonstrate influence of food odors on proteostasis
February 23, 2019 - Researchers unlock the secret behind reproduction of fish called ‘Mary’
February 23, 2019 - Acupuncture Could Help Ease Menopausal Symptoms
February 23, 2019 - Researchers use AI to detect early signs of Alzheimer’s
February 23, 2019 - On recovery, vulnerability and ritual: An exhibit in white | News Center
February 23, 2019 - Memory Stored in Unexpected Region of the Brain
February 23, 2019 - Several health experts worldwide gather at EUDONORGAN event
February 23, 2019 - Discovery of potent compound in native California shrub may lead to treatment for Alzheimer’s
February 22, 2019 - Researchers create new map of the brain’s own immune system
February 22, 2019 - ICHE’s reviews on surgical infections, unnecessary urine tests, and nurses’ role in antibiotic stewardship
February 22, 2019 - UK Research and Innovation invests £200 million to create new generation of AI leaders
February 22, 2019 - Takeda collaboration to boost fight against Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases
February 22, 2019 - Heavy drinking may change DNA, leading to increased craving for alcohol
February 22, 2019 - U.S. opioid deaths jump fourfold in 20 years; epidemic shifts to Eastern states | News Center
February 22, 2019 - 5 Questions with William Turner on Diversity in Medicine
February 22, 2019 - HHS Finalizes Rule Seeking To Expel Planned Parenthood From Family Planning Program
February 22, 2019 - Researchers uncover biochemical pathway that may help identify drugs to treat Alzheimer’s
February 22, 2019 - Biologist uses new grant to find ways to eliminate schistosomiasis
February 22, 2019 - Bag-mask ventilation to help patients breathe during intubation prevents complications
February 22, 2019 - AbbVie Announces New Drug Application Accepted for Priority Review by FDA for Upadacitinib for Treatment of Moderate to Severe Rheumatoid Arthritis
February 22, 2019 - Nature versus nurture and addiction
February 22, 2019 - New website connects researchers with data experts, resources | News Center
February 22, 2019 - Today’s Concerns About Drug Prices Echo The Past
February 22, 2019 - CT and Doppler equipment have low accuracy in detecting cerebral vasospasm and ischemia
February 22, 2019 - Study finds out similarity in function between healthy retina cell and tumor cell
February 22, 2019 - CWRU awarded NIH grant to identify effective treatments for intimate partner violence
Protein swap: Improve your health and the planet by eating fewer animals and more plants, researchers suggest

Protein swap: Improve your health and the planet by eating fewer animals and more plants, researchers suggest

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print

In the campus office of Christopher Gardner, PhD, a nutrition specialist, sits a sculpture of a chicken. It’s no ordinary chicken sculpture — the body takes the shape of a curvy eggplant; the beak, a pointy carrot and from its rear sprouts a feathery tail of tomato vines.

It’s purpose is more than just quirky decor; I think the veggie-chicken captures the core message of Gardner’s latest review paper, which appears in Nutrition Reviews.

The paper takes a close look at protein consumption habits in the United States, and the big-picture effect it has on climate change and resource use. The long and short of it is, Americans eat the most meat (and protein) of any country in the world, and as a whole, we could stand to cut back.

In this review, Gardner breaks down what we really need to satisfy our protein needs, recommending a partial shift from meat-based protein to plant-based protein. After all, he says, both sources provide roughly the same quality of protein.

I chatted with Gardner about protein consumption on a national level, and asked him to explain how we can better align with protein eating “goals” for both our own health and for the health of the earth.

In an excerpt from the original Q&A, here’s what he had to say:

The review estimates that the average person in the United States consumes about 200 pounds of meat in one year. How much protein does a person really need?

The data we cite from the Food and Agricultural Organization encompasses meat intake in more than 150 countries and concludes that more meat per person is consumed in the United States than in any other country. The United States government’s guidelines have a ‘recommended daily allowance’ that amounts to 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day. That equals 45 grams of protein for someone weighing 125 pounds, and 64 grams for someone weighing 175 pounds.

But what’s important to note is that this estimation already has a built-in buffer to account for variability across the population. The majority of people should interpret the recommended allowance as an amount with a buffer, not as a minimum requirement. If the entire population consumed the recommended daily allowance of protein, 97.5 percent would meet or exceed their requirement. And yet the average woman in the United States eats about 80 grams per day, and the average man about 100 grams per day. And that’s before adding protein bars, protein shakes and protein powders.

What’s the connection between meat consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and water use?

Over the last decade, concerns about greenhouse gasses and water usage have grown to states of urgency and emergency. There are now dozens of published analyses demonstrating that current agricultural practices are contributing substantially to accelerating global warming, and changes in agricultural practices will be essential to addressing climate change. This is particularly true of raising livestock, beef and dairy in particular, which is far more negatively impactful on resources than growing plant foods, which is relatively less resource-intensive and produces less greenhouse gas.

Do you recommend a cutback in protein? How would that help reduce the impact on natural resources?

Given that many, if not most, Americans eat twice the amount of protein they require, there is substantial room to consume less protein and still easily meet individual needs. Most people could choose a vegetarian or even a vegan diet and still meet their protein needs — but I don’t think that is realistic or necessary.

I would recommend two things: eating less protein in general and shifting the source of some protein from animal to plant foods. Keep in mind that, beyond protein, this shift to a more plant-based diet is now consistent with the recommendations of every public health organization regarding improving human health.

In our paper, we modeled the impact of individuals consuming 25 percent less protein, and also shifting 25 percent of the remaining protein that they consume from animal to plant protein. For the average American that would mean still getting most of their protein from animal foods, about a 60-40 split. By our estimates, that 25-percent-less-and-25-percent-shift recommendation would result in 40 percent lower carbon dioxide emissions from food production-related sources, which would be equivalent to about 8 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions reductions originally pledged by the United States under the Paris Climate Agreement. The shift would also equate to a 10 percent decrease in water consumption — about 3.1 trillion gallons — relative to current consumption. If the protein shifts were bigger, the impact would be even larger.

Photo by Christopher Gardner

Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles