Ask Dr. Joe – World Health News
Dr. Joe Esposito is a nutritionist, chiropractor, national lecturer and author with 30 years experience as a health professional.
Q: I am concerned that I am not getting enough protein since I have changed to a plant-based diet. Can I get the protein that I need if I eat no animal products?
A: There are no required nutrients, including protein, which you cannot get from a plant-based diet. Simply, all proteins are made of amino acids. Your body makes all the necessary amino acids. Most meats contain these essential amino acids. However, meat has so many negative effects on the body that it is a much better idea to get your amino acids from plants. The only plant source that contains all essential amino acids is soy beans. Other plants contain some, but not all, of the “big eight.” Whole grains, legumes, vegetables, nuts and seeds contain both essential and nonessential amino acids. Eating a good variety of fruits, seeds, vegetables and nuts, and eating enough food to maintain your energy level should give you the amount of protein you need.
Q: Where do we get calcium if we don’t drink cow’s milk or eat dairy products/ Was my mother wrong when she said to drink all my milk?
A: Many plant sources of calcium are absorbed as well or better than cow’s milk. The less protein you eat, within reason, will decrease the amount of calcium excreted in your urine. So, you need to take in less calcium. Calcium deficiency in vegetarians is rare. If you consume below the RDA calcium (within reason), there is little evidence that major health problems will occur. With all the negative attention that dairy products are getting, mom was wrong when she said to drink all your milk, especially when there are so many better choices to consider, (Broccoli, green leafy vegetables especially; Kale, Watercress, Collards, Mustard and Dandelion greens, Legumes, Sesame seeds, Wakame, Hiziki, Dulse).
Q: Most people want to lose weight but I want to gain weight. How can I do this, and still eat well?
A: I usually recommend fruit and water for breakfast, and nothing else. In your case, eat this but add nuts. A delicious way to do this is to have bananas with almond or cashew butter. Peanut butter works well, if you do not have an allergy to peanuts. Use sunflower seeds mixed into salad dressings. Eat 1 or 2 avocados per day in your sandwiches, salads or by themselves. Foods that contain lots of good fats will help you gain weight and not poison your body. Dried fruit without sulfites and trail mix are also good to eat.