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Health and High Protein Intake

Agatha M. Thrash, M.D.
Preventive Medicine

1. Digestion of Protein includes:

Mouth (mastication)
Stomach (the enzymes pepsinogen and gastricogen with HCL)
Pancreas and Intestines (trypsinogen and chymotrypsinogen)
Intestinal Wall (peptidase and dipeptidases)

2. Macromolecules and Gut Absorption:

Most proteins are digested to amino acids before they get into the portal circulation and to the liver. Small amounts of polypeptides and macromolecules may be assimilated without complete digestion under normal conditions and under certain disease conditions. Important quantities of these may get into the body and upset the immune system.

For a few days up to 18 months, infants have an increased capacity to ingest macromolecules via endocytosis. This allows globulin antibodies to go from mother to infant. However, it presents a problem when other than human milk is given. Macromolecules of cow's milk and even soy milk may cross the intestinal wall and induce colic and systemic allergy problems.1

Boiling the cow's milk cuts down on this problem.2, 3

Loss of proper bowel function after viral gastroenteritis may also allow macromolecules into the circulation.4

Conceivably, several other factors such as a high protein intake, poorly masticated food, greasy/oily food, inadequate digestion in the stomach or intestines from enzyme deficiency, intestinal liposomal or IgA deficiency could also result in incomplete digestion of protein and increased macromolecular absorption.

Gluten and Gliadin have been found increased in the serum of patients with celiac sprue and dermatitis herpetiformis.5

Regular cow's milk contains globules of fat surrounded by a protein coating containing bovine milk xanthine oxidase (BMXO). BMXO is digested in the gut. Churning for butter removes the protein coating and frees the fat. Homogenization changes the fat globule into smaller fat particles called liposomes. In these the BMXO is in the center of the globule and may pass through the intestinal wall into the circulation. They have also been found in the arterial wall where it is postulated6 they play a role in the induction of atherosclerosis.

3. High-Protein Diet and Urinary Calcium Loss:

The usual American high-protein diet has been shown to cause increased calcium loss from the body. Evidence indicates that it does so by increasing the filtration of calcium in the kidney and decreasing the amount of calcium reabsorbed by the kidney. The acidic urine (urates, sulfates, and phosphates) contribute to this calcium loss. All of this results in a near-doubling of the demand for calcium in the diet. If the dietary intake cannot keep up with this extra obligatory loss in the urine, the bones have to supply the need. The result is osteoporosis.7

Inadequate calcium intake relative to need results in periodontal disease.8 Dr. Aviola9 mentions several factors which increase the risk of getting osteoporosis. Among these are:

  • A high-protein diet
  • Sedentary living
  • Arteriosclerosis
  • Hormonal imbalance (estrogen deficiency)
  • Vitamin D deficiency
  • Cigarette smoking

Ellis10 has reported that the incidence of osteoporosis is lower in vegetarians than in meat eaters.

4. High Protein and the Immune System:

Current knowledge of the immune system relative to nutrition can be summarized as follows: White blood cells are implicated in body defense against foreign proteins such as polypeptides, macromolecules, viruses, cancer, bacteria, molds, fungi, etc., in three ways. Polymorphonuclear cells (Polys) migrate to some of these foreign proteins by chemotatic means, engulf the foreign substance, and digest it.

B-lymphocytes make protective gamma globulin proteins called IgA, IgD, IgE, IgG, and IgM against other foreign agents. These proteins circulate in body fluids to combine with foreign proteins.

T-lymphocytes make lymphokines (from fatty acids) which are cellular chemicals against molds, cancer, etc.

The T-lymphocytes (thymus) control the B-lymphocytes.

Lack of control of B-lymphocytes results in increased gamma globulin. Allergic people have an increased IgE. T-lymphocytes are destroyed by x-ray irradiation, cortisol, aspirin, and smog. They are weakened by rancid oil, free radicals, cholesterol, and certain macromolecules. Allergic manifestations can be relieved by decreasing the absorption of macromolecules. Decreased absorption of macromolecules results in decreased function of mast cells with its biochemicals and an increase in T-lymphocyte activity. This in turn suppresses B-lymphocyte activity and IgE levels with relief of allergic symptoms.

5. High Protein and Other Problems:

A high-protein diet overloads the renal excretory mechanism because of the excessive quantities of non-protein nitrogenous products, sulfates, phosphates, etc. A number of these require an active tubular transport system. If marginal renal function exists in the patient, then signs of renal insufficiency will occur prematurely as a result. The excessive uric acid may accumulate in the tubules and damage them.

A high-protein diet accelerates the aging process.11

Suggestions regarding prevention of protein problems:

  • Avoid eating when excited, anxious, or hurried. (CDF 107)
  • Do not eat after violent or excessive exercise. (CDF 109)
  • Food should not be too hot or too cold. (CDF 106)
  • Avoid fluid with meals. (CDF 106)
  • Prepare the fruits, grains, and vegetables in a simple way, free from spice and grease (and oil) of all kinds. (CDF 355)
  • Certain mixtures such as fruits and vegetables at the same meal may war in the stomach. (CDF 111)
  • Avoid too large a proportion of the high-fat foods, such as nuts, in recipes. (CDF 364)
  • Use less than one-sixth part of the recipes from nuts. (CDF 365)
  • Do not overeat even of that which is good.
  • Do not eat too many varieties of foods at one meal; maybe three to four dishes. (CDF 109)
  • Masticate the food thoroughly. (CDF 107)
  • Eat with cheerfulness. (CDF 109)
  • Eat regularly and eat only food that is free from grease (and oil). (CDF 354)
  • Meat eating deranges the system, beclouds the intellect and blunts the moral sensibilities. (CDF 391)
  • Cheese should never be introduced into the stomach. (CDF 368)
  • God fed Israel with oil, honey, meat, meat fat, butter, milk, and cereal. They became fat and kicked against the Lord. (Deut. 32:13-15)
  • The issue over milk and eggs is working itself out. (CDF 367) Eggs are too full of cholesterol to be eaten safely, and milk contains too much saturated fat, cholesterol, and absorbable macromolecules for healthful use. Milk will eventually need to be discarded. (CDF 384)
  • If milk is used, it should be from healthy cows and thoroughly sterilized. (CDF 357)
  • Fish may be too contaminated (by filth of cities) to be eaten. (CDF 394)
  • If we afflict the stomach, it may well afflict us. (CDF 111)
  • Some sneer at health reform and others go to the opposite extreme. Both bring disrepute on God's laws of health. (CDF 50)
  • As we near the earthly time, Satan will tempt us to indulge appetite even more strongly. (CDF 59)
  • Satan knows that self-indulgence prevents a person from witnessing for God that God's laws are holy, just, and good. He knows that obedience to the laws of health will result in a greater measure of health. He knows that indulgence of appetite will cause dissension, strife, impatient words, unkind deeds, dishonest practices, and passion manifested. (CDF 53)
  • God promises full and complete victory over appetite if we fast and pray for Jesus to give us strength. (CDF 400) If we are willing to made willing, He will work in us both to will obedience and to do the act. (MB 142, CDF 72)
  • The work of health reform is the Lord's means for lessening suffering in our world and for purifying His church. (CDF 77)
  • The miracle is that loving obedience to God's laws results in miraculous improvement in health.


1. Walker, W. A., and Isselbacher, K. J. Gastroenterology, 67:531, 1971.
2. Gruskay, F. L. Clin. Peds., 21:486, 1982.
3. HcLauglan, P. Arch. Peds. 21:486, 1982.
4. Butler, H. L., et al. Pediatrics 67:262, 1981.
5. Lane, A. T., et al. J. Investig. Dermatol. 79:18, 1982.
6. Oster, K. A. Nutrition Today 16:28, 1981.
7. Allen, L. H. et al. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 32:741, 1979.
8. Coulston, A., & Lutwak, L. Fed. PROC. 1973.
9. Aviola, L. V. Fed. PROC. 40:2418, 1981.
10. Ellis, F. R., et al. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 25:555, 1972.
11. Mazess, R. B. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 27:916, 1974.

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