Breaking News
February 16, 2019 - Collaborative material research could advance self-assembling nanomaterials
February 16, 2019 - Researchers take major step in creating technology that mimics the human brain
February 16, 2019 - Erasing memories associated with cocaine use reduces drug seeking behavior
February 16, 2019 - Artificial intelligence can accurately predict prognosis of ovarian cancer patients
February 16, 2019 - Racial disparities in cancer deaths on the decline for America
February 16, 2019 - FDA authorizes new interoperable insulin pump for children, adults with diabetes
February 16, 2019 - Coexisting Medical Conditions, Smoking Explain PTSD-CVD Link
February 16, 2019 - Skin Cancer Screening: MedlinePlus Lab Test Information
February 16, 2019 - ‘Happiness’ exercises can boost mood in those recovering from substance use disorder
February 16, 2019 - Cell manipulation could soon halt or reverse aging
February 16, 2019 - Pumped Breast Milk Falls Short of Breastfed Version
February 16, 2019 - Men’s porn habits could fuel partners’ eating disorders, study suggests
February 16, 2019 - Rapid progression of age-related diseases may result from formation of vicious cycles
February 16, 2019 - Immune checkpoint molecule protects against future development of cancer
February 16, 2019 - New method produces hydrogels that have properties similar to cells’ environment
February 16, 2019 - $4.1 million funding for heart research on Valentine’s Day
February 16, 2019 - General anesthesia in early infancy unlikely to have lasting effects on developing brains
February 16, 2019 - New breakthroughs for muscular dystrophy research
February 16, 2019 - First Opinion: Embryo editing for higher IQ is a fantasy. Embryo profiling for it is almost here
February 16, 2019 - Vapers develop cancer-related gene deregulation as cigarette smokers
February 16, 2019 - Bringing Antimicrobial Susceptibility Testing (AST) to the Community
February 16, 2019 - Decolonization protocol after hospital discharge can prevent dangerous infections
February 16, 2019 - New technique using patients’ own modified cells could help treat Crohn’s disease
February 16, 2019 - Therapeutic endoscopy has an expanding role in the treatment of IBD
February 16, 2019 - Blood clot discovery could lead to development of better treatments for blood diseases
February 16, 2019 - Intervention can increase exclusive breastfeeding rates
February 16, 2019 - New project explores how gaming technologies can help cancer patients communicate better
February 16, 2019 - Catalyst Biosciences Presents Updated Data from Its Phase 2/3 Trial of Subcutaneous Marzeptacog Alfa (Activated) in Individuals with Hemophilia A or B with Inhibitors at the 12th Annual EAHAD Congress
February 16, 2019 - Rerouting nerves during amputation reduces phantom limb pain before it starts
February 16, 2019 - A Hormone Produced When We Exercise Might Help Fight Alzheimer’s
February 16, 2019 - Millions of British people breathe toxic air travelling to GPs
February 16, 2019 - Conformance of genetic characteristics found to be crucial for longer preservation of kidney graft
February 16, 2019 - Researchers use optogenetic tool to control, visualize receptor signals in neural cells
February 16, 2019 - New reversible antiplatelet therapy could reduce risk of blood clots, prevent cancer metastasis
February 16, 2019 - Testosterone is not the only hormone needed for penis development
February 16, 2019 - FDA Advisory Committee Recommends Approval of Spravato (esketamine) Nasal Spray for Adults with Treatment-Resistant Depression
February 15, 2019 - Heart surgery technology developed at Baptist Health debuts after years of secrecy
February 15, 2019 - Prescription Opioids Double Risk of Triggering Fatal Car Crash
February 15, 2019 - New study helps doctors better understand high blood pressure in pregnant women
February 15, 2019 - Beta wave control in Parkinson’s diseased brain could be a potential therapy
February 15, 2019 - Media representations of love may justify gender-based violence in young people
February 15, 2019 - Yoga May Help With Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms, Severity
February 15, 2019 - Obstructive sleep apnea linked to inflammation, organ dysfunction
February 15, 2019 - Master your mind: A challenge from WELL for Life
February 15, 2019 - Why Some Brain Tumors Respond to Immunotherapy
February 15, 2019 - Must-Reads Of The Week From Brianna Labuskes
February 15, 2019 - Researchers uncover novel mechanism and potential new therapeutic target for Alzheimer’s
February 15, 2019 - Genetic variations in a fourth gene associated with higher ALL risk in Hispanic children
February 15, 2019 - Disruptive behavioral problems in kindergarten linked with lower employment earnings in adulthood
February 15, 2019 - New bioengineered device enhances the production of T-cells
February 15, 2019 - HDL proteome behaves like a tiny Velcro ball that is rolling on surfaces
February 15, 2019 - Puerto Rican children more likely to have poor or decreasing use of asthma inhalers
February 15, 2019 - Quality of patient care does not improve after physician-hospital integration
February 15, 2019 - Synopsys release new software for implant design and patient-specific planning
February 15, 2019 - 6 out of 10 hip replacements last 25 years or longer
February 15, 2019 - Health Tip: What You Should Know About Antibiotics
February 15, 2019 - New research challenges medical consensus that adenoids and tonsils significantly shrink during teenage years
February 15, 2019 - Discovery of weakness in a rare cancer could be exploited with drugs
February 15, 2019 - UVA scientists find potential explanation for mysterious cell death in Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s
February 15, 2019 - New rules requiring female athletes to lower testosterone levels are based on flawed data
February 15, 2019 - Researchers comprehensively sequence the human immune system
February 15, 2019 - Researchers study animal venoms to identify new medicines for treating diseases
February 15, 2019 - Movement of wrist bones revealed by MRI and computer modeling
February 15, 2019 - Philips introduces new premium digital X-ray room to help shorten patient wait times
February 15, 2019 - Women fare worse than men following aortic heart surgery, study finds
February 15, 2019 - High-protein and low-calorie diet helps older adults lose weight safely, shows study
February 15, 2019 - Drug microdosing effects may not measure up to big expectations
February 15, 2019 - Discharged, Dismissed: ERs Often Miss Chance To Set Overdose Survivors On ‘Better Path’
February 15, 2019 - A digitized lab environment to be showcased at smartLAB 2019
February 15, 2019 - Scientists uncover main mechanisms of fluconazole drug resistance
February 15, 2019 - New study seeks to understand how colibactin causes cancer
February 15, 2019 - Photoacoustic imaging accurately measures the temperature of deep tissues
February 15, 2019 - Large study finds no association between phthalate exposure and breast cancer risk
February 15, 2019 - New research explains presence of ‘natural’ magnetism in human cells
February 15, 2019 - Bio-Rad launches new digital PCR system and kit for monitoring treatment response in CML patients
February 15, 2019 - Excessive daytime sleepiness in OSA patients linked to greater risk for cardiovascular diseases
February 15, 2019 - Scientists shed light on damaging cell effects linked to aging
February 15, 2019 - Celiac disease may be caused by stomach bug in childhood
February 15, 2019 - NHS performance figures highlight the true scale of Emergency Department crisis
February 15, 2019 - High intensity exercise may improve health by increasing gut microbiota diversity
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