Monday, November 3, 2008

Too much protein?

Eating a diet high in protein seems to be the trend of the moment. With people shying away from simple carbohydrates such as white bread, potatoes, and rice, these foods are being replaced with higher protein choices. Although there are advantages to consuming a high protein diet such as an increased sense of fullness and more stability of blood sugar levels, several recent studies have shown that eating a protein intensive diet could have negative health effects. Can you eat too much protein?

Surprisingly, the average, non-vegetarian American consumes a diet which exceeds the daily recommended amount of protein. This is particularly true for body builders, weight lifters, and other athletes who may consume up to four to five times the recommended protein allowance. To determine how much protein you need on a daily basis, simply multiply your weight by 0.37 which will give you the number of grams required to maintain lean body mass and promote a healthy immune system.

What are the consequences of too much protein? Consuming quantities of protein more than thirty percent above the recommended daily allowances has the potential to cause health problems according to some studies. Some of the health consequences of too much protein include:

Increased stress on the kidneys
Because the kidney are responsible for filtering proteins, it's thought that excessive protein consumption could put additional stress on the kidneys. Studies have shown that persons who have mild impairment of kidney function may have their kidney function further reduced by a high protein diet. Fortunately, the Nurses' Healthy Study conducted on women in 2000 showed that high protein intake didn't appear to be associated with a decline in kidney function as long as the kidneys were normal to begin with. This suggests that if you have any evidence of decreased kidney function, it's probably best to limit protein consumption on a daily basis. Even though normal kidneys may be able to handle a higher protein load, too much protein in the diet can lead to dehydration since processing a high protein load causes loss of water in the urine. If you do eat a high protein diet, be sure to drink lots of water.


Studies have shown that older women who eat large amounts of meat tend to have a higher rate of bone density loss than women who don't. This occurs because excessive protein intake results in the extra amino acids being converted into organic acids. When the kidney processes these organic acids, it does so by pushing calcium into the urine which results in loss of critical bone preserving calcium. Even though a high protein diet may promote osteoporosis, eating too little protein can have the same effect. Moderation is the key to good bone health.


Some recent studies show that a low protein diet may help to protect against certain types of cancer. This may occur because a
diet low in protein lowers levels of a plasma growth factor known as IGF-1. High IGF-1 levels have been associated with increased risk of a variety of cancers including breast, colon and prostate cancer. Persons who consume a lower protein diet have been shown to have lower levels of IGF-1 which further supports the possibility that a high protein intake could increase the risk of certain types of cancer.

Can you eat too much protein for your own good health? Consuming levels beyond a certain amount probably won't give you any additional benefit unless your aim is to build large muscles via a bodybuilding program. The best plan of action may be to calculate your suggested daily intake of protein (0.37 times your body weight) and stay within that range. To promote overall better health and reduce your risk of disease, decrease the amount of protein you get from animal sources and add more vegetable sources of protein such as beans, lentils, and nuts. This is also a good general recipe for better health and longevity.

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Reverse Mortgage

A new financial vehicle available is a "reverse mortgage". This type of product goes against everything we want to teach our kids about wealth creation and being financially savvy. With all of the real-estate, passive income, stock, option and wealth building advice out there, I find it hard to accept the fact that elderly parents find it necessary to consume their kids' inheritance while they are still living.

Whatever happened to the notion of leaving a legacy for your
children and grandchildren? The website defines a reverse mortgage as "a loan against your home that you do not have to pay back for as long as you live there. You pay the money back plus interest when you die, sell your home, or permanently move out of your home."

There are certain requirements that must be met before you can qualify for this loan. The website states that the borrower must be at least 62 years of age, own their home outright or have only a small mortgage that can be paid off at closing with the proceeds of the reverse loan and you must live in the home as the primary resident (you cannot rent your home to tenants and move somewhere else).

No minimum income is required to obtain the money. The borrower doesn't have to pay back the loan until they sell the house or die. However, reverse mortgages tap into your net worth by sapping the equity value out of your home. The more your borrow, the less you have in your estate to pass on to your heirs.

There are several options for being paid the cash from the loan. You can be paid the entire amount all at once, take a monthly loan advance or establish a "credit line", which is essentially taking out the money from your equity as you need it. How these loans are bad for society is that they are an easy way for people approaching
senior citizen status to avoid having to get their financial future in order. It's another reason to avoid living below your means and run up debt.

Many people aged 60 and over already own their own homes. However, we hear every day on the internet and in the newspapers that many people don't have a sufficient amount of money funded in IRA's, 401K's and other investment funds to get them through retirement. Now, with reverse mortgages being marketed on
television and radio by celebrities like James Garner and the fact that they are readily available through lending companies, it's just another reason to live for the moment and procrastinate saving for retirement.

I hope the 30 and 40-something generations are more financially savvy when it comes to saving for retirement. I would like to see the reverse mortgage receive bad press and be viewed upon the same way we now view adjustable rate mortgages.

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