A comorbidity is when there is a presence of two or more diseases in the same person. Some common comorbidities often include diabetes, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, hypertension and heart disease. Most of which are caused by modern sedentary lifestyles and unhealthy food habits.
An important nutrient that helps in preventing and managing comorbidities is protein. It is one of our primary macronutrients and it plays a vital role in overall body health and nutrition. It is composed of amino acids that help rebuild tissue cells, including muscle, protective layers of organs and skin.
For those not intent on strength and bulking up, protein has numerous other benefits and significant roles to play, not limited to aiding muscle growth and quicker repair.
For people looking to lower their glycemic response and keeping glucose levels in check, consuming premium or high-quality brown rice and pumpkin seed protein can really help. Plant proteins like hemp also help in providing antioxidants to fight free radicals and reduce cellular damage. Omega-3 fatty acids in chia and flax seeds can help balance cholesterol, manage blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease. These also work to reduce inflammation in the body and boost immune function.
Our sources of protein are varied from animal sources, including meat and dairy, to plant sources like legumes, nuts, seeds and soy. For people with any kind of chronic medical condition, choosing a premium and high-quality protein powder to supplement their diet is paramount for overall function and immunity.
THE BEST PROTEIN SOURCES FOR COMORBIDITIES
A healthy and balanced diet contains different macronutrients from a variety of protein sources to get all of the amino acids your body needs to effectively function.
Protein powders are isolated protein from different whole food sources, and can come in three different forms: concentrate, isolate, and hydrolysate. To understand what kind of protein will be best for you, it is important to understand all three forms.
- Concentrate: protein that is extracted from a whole food source using heat and acid or enzymes. About 60-80% of the content is protein and 20-40% is carbohydrate and fat.
- Isolate: extracted like concentrate, which then goes through another filtering step to remove carbohydrate and fat. This contains around 90-95% protein.
- Hydrolysate: goes through a final step to break down amino acids in simpler forms, using heat and acid or enzymes. This is more easily absorbed by the body.
Let’s have a look at common chronic conditions with significant medical research and takeaways regarding the best sources of protein.
Go for low-sugar organic protein powder for diabetes — Patients with diabetes should choose high-quality protein shakes without any added sugar. Here’s a simple tip to help aid you in this quest: check the ingredient list on your protein powder and ensure that sugar is not listed as one of the top ingredients. Never choose protein powders with sugar listed as one of the first three ingredients. It’s also advisable to look for a protein supplement that’s low on carbs (5 to 15 grams per serving).
Limit your intake of protein in the case of kidney disease — People with kidney disease can’t tolerate a lot of protein at one time. Stick with powders that have a lower-range protein content (10 to 15 grams per serving).
Avoid lactose sugars & artificial sweeteners for gastrointestinal problems — Patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome or lactose intolerance should choose powders that don’t contain lactose sugars, artificial sweeteners, dextrins or maltodextrins. If you have a gluten allergy or sensitivity, choose gluten-free protein powders.
To understand the role of protein powders, we’re taking a deeper look at the role of protein powders in diabetes and Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS.
When there are cases of oxidative stress in the body (most common in patients with diabetes), the buildup of damaging free radicals plays a significant role in causing insulin resistance and exaggerating diabetes-related complications. Natural whey protein powder is one of the best sources of an amino acid called l-cysteine which serves as a product that is used to synthesize glutathione (one the best antioxidants in the body). Antioxidants are powerful free radical neutralizing agents that effectively turn them harmless.
Whey protein has also been known to reduce the spike in blood sugar levels, especially after meals. It plays a significant role in the reduction of triglycerides in diabetic individuals and appears to be useful in controlling blood sugar levels in diabetics, potentially acting as a substance to boost insulin response.
Before taking any kind of protein supplements, it is mandatory to first consult your diabetologist or a proper clinical dietitian who will advise you on the right dosage and other necessary points to consider with regard to your insulin intake.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome:
For IBS, protein powders can be tricky. FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols, which are short-chain carbohydrates (sugars) that the small intestine absorbs poorly. People with IBS experience digestive distress after consuming them.
If the source of the protein is a high FODMAP food, like peas, you will want most of the carbohydrate removed, and consume it in its isolate form. It is the same for whey; they must ensure it is lactose-free. Low FODMAP options include whey, pea, hemp, brown rice, and soy isolate.
A CLOSER LOOK AT PROTEIN SUPPLEMENTS AND THEIR INGREDIENTS
Whey protein powders
Whey protein is isolated from the liquid part of cow’s milk that is separated in cheese making. It contains a variety of proteins from milk, and the isolate versions are low in lactose. One serving can range between 25 and 50 grams of protein, but it’s best to stick closer to 25 grams to avoid digestive issues. You can avoid this if you are allergic to milk and milk-based products.
Terra Origin 100%-Grass-Fed Whey Protein is a premium whey protein that is gluten-free, non-GMO, organic, preservative and hormone free. Manufactured in the USA in FDA-registered facilities, this natural whey protein is made from the best ingredients in nature and formulated with a comprehensive range of nutrients and amino acids.
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Plant-based protein powders
Plant-based proteins are usually lacking in essential amino acids. But the right formulation can offer you the benefits of protein and an array of nutrients including amino acids.
Here are some of the ingredients used to make up a good plant-based protein powder.
Pea protein is isolated from ground yellow peas. It is naturally rich in quality protein and iron. One serving will typically give you 15 grams of protein, which is closer to a recommended amount per meal for most individuals. This one is naturally gluten and dairy free. Many with IBS are concerned about pea protein because peas can be higher FODMAP. They should be safe if consumed in isolate form.
Hemp seed protein powder is made by grinding hemp seeds into a powder. Instead of extracting the protein, you are eating the entire seed. This is a complete protein, but since the protein isn’t isolated, you will get a little less protein per serving than some other options out there. One serving could provide 10-15 grams of protein, but will be much higher in calories than your pea protein option.
This is a great option for those on a plant-based diet, and for those who prefer less processed protein options.
Brown rice protein powders are isolated from brown rice. This won’t be a complete protein, meaning it won’t have all essential amino acids. Several products also include quinoa and chia, which are both complete proteins and also low FODMAP. One serving will give you around 20 grams of protein, so this is a great vegan and gluten-free option for someone with higher protein needs.
Soy isolate is extracted from soybeans and one serving can give you 20 grams of protein, but it is one of the more controversial plant-based protein options. While soybeans can be a great source of protein for plant-based eaters, there could be ingredients in soy isolate powder that can be toxic or decrease mineral absorption. This is subject to further research.
A premium plant-based protein that incorporates the best qualities of the ingredients mentioned above is Terra Origin Organic Plant Protein. It’s allergen free, non-GMO, devoid of any fillers and made from the best ingredients under the most stringent guidelines at FDA-registered facilities in the USA. Made from pea protein isolate, organic brown rice protein, chia seed powder, flax seed powder and many other goodies. It’s a great option for diabetics too.
The key is information. Keeping yourself informed about your condition and its relationship to foods can help you pick the right protein supplement. Regardless of chronic illnesses, choosing premium protein supplements that are organic, preservative-free, sugar-free, zero hormone and antibiotic free should be something everyone should look out for.