Our bodies need protein to survive – that much is clear. We need protein for every cell and organ in our body, but that does not mean we need a ton of protein either. And it does not mean that animal protein is the best source of that nutrition our body needs to survive. Not only are there ethical concerns associated with having animal protein, but recent studies are showing that animal protein may be bad for our bodies.
Animal Protein and the Nervous System
It is not often that you hear about the nervous system and animal protein in the same sentence. However, recent work has shown that excessive animal protein is not good for the body’s nervous system and brain. When you are eating a high amount of animal protein, your body is producing a lot of ammonia. When that ammonia is in your body, your liver has to work harder to render the ammonia harmless to the other cells and organs. If you continue to eat a lot of animal protein, your liver is getting overworked, which can lead to ammonia and other toxins not being properly cleansed before spreading through the body.
Most people who get their protein from animals tend to consume too much. We all think that we need more protein than we do, even if we are working out. If a person is consuming red meat on most days, and getting other animal protein in their diet from fish, eggs or chicken, they are over-consuming. And when there is overconsumption, it leads to a bogged down and overworked liver.
When the liver is bogged down, it means that some toxins in the body are just sitting there, as the liver deals with other ones. Think about it like a highway with a lot of traffic, where cars have to go through a toll booth before they can move forward. If there is heavy traffic in all the lanes, the toll booth gets backed up. Now think about your body as that highway, with the liver as the toll booth. That is what happens when you are eating too much animal protein. That ammonia, and other toxins, will keep sitting in your body causing harm.
Another issue that arises from the excessive ammonia in the body is a decline in brain and nervous system function. The condition is known as hepatic encephalopathy. There are a number of symptoms that show the patient is going through hepatic encephalopathy, and the condition is directly associated with liver dysfunction.
What is Hepatic Encephalopathy?
It is not one problem, but a spectrum of neuropsychiatric abnormalities that occur in patients that have liver problems. The patient could go through many changes, such as a shift in personality, intellectual impairment, depressed levels of consciousness, and more.
It is a scary condition, and it is one that is now being linked to animal protein. When we think about our body’s liver, we usually think about excessive alcohol consumption as the major problem. And while that is still the case, we now have to consider that getting protein from beef, chicken and other animal sources could be part of the problem.
Most people know that animal protein is bad for our heart, while it can cause issues such as high cholesterol, cancer and diabetes. But the nervous system information is new for many. It should serve as a wakeup call, and a sign that pursuing a vegan lifestyle may be about health as much as it is about ethics.