Regardless, of what your “day-to-day” looks like, it is important to have easy, healthy and nourishing brain food on hand. Protein, or amino acids, are a critical component to life, so we often associate eating protein with health, regardless of the format we consume it in.
Unfortunately, many protein and snack bars available are loaded with highly processed protein “isolates,” sweeteners and inflammatory ingredients, additives and oils. While these protein bars and powders may satisfy in the moment, they can wreak havoc on the digestive system, create inflammation in the body and are not an ideal source of nourishment for the brain, or active muscle recovery.
Different types of protein isolates, like soybean, whey and pea (a cleaner option), are commonly found in many high protein snack foods, bars and supplements because they are an inexpensive opportunity to increase protein levels in food and drive profit.
An “isolated” protein, or “protein isolate” is exactly what it sounds like. It is essentially what remains when a food, say, a soybean, has been stripped of all sugar, fiber and naturally occurring nutrients.
Protein isolates have been used in the food industry since the 1930’s.
My issue with many protein isolates is two fold: For starters, the body digests and absorbs a highly processed protein differently than it would a whole food, like a soybean, or an actual pea. Highly processed protein diets can create strain on the body, especially the kidneys.
It is not uncommon to see kidney issues in those consuming large amounts of protein isolates.
Outside of the argument for “whole food”, we also run into an issue with the actual extraction process, while isolating the protein. The process can leave behind residues from chemicals and heavy metals. While the amount may be minimal, heavy metals accumulate in the body causing issues later down the road.
I pick on “protein” in this particular article because as someone that has consulted in the Natural Foods industry for years, it is in our human nature to zone in on particular buzzwords and ignore red flags.
With “high protein” being of such interest to a large population of those looking to improve their well-being, marketers lead with buzzwords like “high protein” and “low carb” allowing us to scoop up that new box of “keto” cookie bars and overlook the twenty other ingredients that do not serve us.
At every age the body desires ingredients it can utilize as a clean source of energy to burn, but that also allow us to achieve the level of health you deserve.
With just a little effort, we can skip the packaged goods and create delicious alternatives that not only satisfy our hunger, but support brain health, muscle recovery, the immune system, metabolism and digestion, without also feeding bad bacteria in the body.
P.S. A lot of these bars contain a fair amount of sugar and inflammatory oils, which feed bad bacteria in the body.
You deserve to have healthy options.
Instead of the bars, make this plant-based protein-rich pudding, packed with naturally occurring vitamins and minerals, anti-inflammatory omega fatty acids, fiber, antioxidants and yes, protein. (It’s quick, I promise).
Chia Seeds: Rich in soluble fiber, promotes digestive health, regularity, a good source of calcium and manganese. Chia is packed with antioxidants which prevents oxidative stress and promotes tissue repair and skin health.
Pumpkin Seeds: In Chinese Medicine, raw pumpkin seeds are considered anti-parasitic and digestive enhancing. In Ayurveda, they are considered alkalizing, a diuretic and thought to suppress appetite. Pumpkin seeds are rich in antioxidants, and important immune enhancing minerals like, copper, zinc and iron.
Hemp Hearts: Hemp seeds contain many beneficial phytonutrients. It also contains
Plant-based milk of choice, or water. Edestin is a highly-digestible globular protein primarily found in hemp seeds. What is fascinating is that this specific type of protein is molecularly similar to human blood plasma and capable of biosynthesizing: Hormones, hemoglobin enzymes and antibodies.
Combine 3 tbsp of chia seeds with 1 cup of unsweetened plant-based milk of choice (or ideally homemade). *Look for a milk with minimal ingredients, without gums. If you want a thicker pudding, use 4 tbsp. Give a good stir and allow to sit for 5-10 minutes, or throw in the fridge in a sealed bar jar.
When you are ready to enjoy, or you can mix these prior, add a 1-2 tbsp of each pumpkin seeds and hemp heart. Add maple syrup, or stevia (Optional) to sweeten. Add pitted dates, or organic raisins (Optional) for a fun juicy texture.
Note: If you really want a protein powder, look for an organic pea protein and skip the whey and soy. Look for a company, like NAKED PEA, that is very transparent with their ingredients. There are plenty out there.
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