Detailed answers to “What Health Conditions Can Excess Protein Cause?”
Numerous studies have indicated that consuming more than 2g of protein per 1kg of body weight over an extended period can lead to various health issues, from mild symptoms to serious diseases. So, what health conditions can excess protein cause?
Elevated cholesterol levels are one of the typical consequences of excess protein consumption. Typically, a protein-rich diet emphasizes the importance of meat as a primary food source. However, animal-based protein sources contain high levels of cholesterol, which contributes to the development of severe conditions such as heart disease and stroke. According to medical specialists’ advice, it is recommended to limit cholesterol intake to a maximum of 200mg per day.
What happens when the body has an excess of protein? When your body receives an excessive amount of protein, it needs to excrete more nitrogenous waste products, which directly affect the kidneys. This leads to higher protein concentrations in the urine. It is a common cause of impaired kidney function, such as kidney stones.
A study conducted by Harvard University researchers examined the kidney health of 1,624 women over 11 consecutive years. The study concluded that increasing protein intake by 10g per meal was closely associated with a rapid decline in kidney function, particularly in women with mild impairment.
Therefore, individuals with kidney issues should carefully monitor their protein intake to avoid exacerbating serious health problems.
What health conditions can excess protein cause? Another potential consequence of a high-protein diet is the loss of calcium and other essential nutrients through urine. Specifically, excessive protein intake triggers the body to activate acid secretion. This increase in acid concentration prompts the body to release calcium phosphate to neutralize the excess acid.
The body extracts a portion of calcium “reserves” from the bones to ensure an adequate supply of calcium phosphate. As a result, continuous loss of calcium due to excessive protein consumption can deplete bone calcium levels and increase the risk of osteoporosis.
Increased Risk of Cancer
A study published in the ‘Journal of Clinical Nutrition’ concluded that a high-protein diet is closely associated with higher levels of a substance called IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor-1), which is a growth factor similar to insulin. Researchers examined three groups of individuals consuming varying amounts of protein and found that those who exceeded the recommended protein intake had higher levels of IGF-1. These cases were associated with shorter lifespan and an increased risk of certain cancers, such as breast, prostate, and colorectal cancer. Responding to these findings, the American Cancer Society stated that consuming protein also means consuming higher amounts of saturated fats and cholesterol, making it difficult to distinguish the exact cause of increased cancer risk.
Furthermore, according to multiple studies, excessive consumption of plant-based protein, notably soybeans with high levels of phytoestrogens, can increase the risk of breast cancer in women.
Excess Protein and Weight Gain, Obesity
According to research, a high-protein diet tends to promote a feeling of fullness and reduce appetite, which may aid in weight loss. However, it’s important to note that this benefit only occurs in the short term. The body requires a specific amount of protein daily, and any excess protein is stored as fat. Each gram of protein contains 4 calories, and this number significantly increases if not controlled.
Many individuals who engage in gym workouts often rely on protein supplements to build strong and attractive muscle mass. However, this can pose long-term health risks. To avoid weight gain and obesity, it’s crucial to calculate your protein needs based on your body weight.
Significant Impact on the Liver and Brain
What health conditions can excess protein cause? Your brain, liver, and nervous system will be significantly affected. When protein is consumed in excess, the body produces ammonia, a harmful substance for the liver. If protein intake exceeds the necessary amount over a prolonged period, the liver becomes overloaded, leading to the production of toxic substances in the blood, resulting in impaired liver function and simultaneous effects on the brain. However, it takes an extremely high excess of protein to cause these damages.
One of the most common adverse effects of excess protein is digestive disorders. While consuming sufficient protein provides the body with more energy, an imbalance between excessive protein and insufficient fiber can lead to digestive problems.
Nausea, diarrhea, stomach pain, bloating, and fatigue are the consequences of a protein-excessive diet. It’s important to note that protein-rich foods can be more difficult to digest, especially if they contain high levels of fat
Restricts the Absorption of Other Nutrients
Currently, many people follow a diet principle of consuming only protein while excluding carbohydrates and fats. They believe that protein is the best food for building muscle and reducing excess fat. This is only true when the nutrients in the body are balanced, with adequate amounts of protein, carbohydrates, and fats working together. Following an unscientific dietary regimen like this for an extended period can lead to severe nutrient deficiencies in the body.
Excessive Protein Intake Increases the Risk of Gout
What health conditions can excess protein cause? Animal protein contains purines, which are substances that produce high levels of uric acid and can lead to gout. It’s important to balance protein intake from both animal and plant sources to ensure optimal body function. And don’t forget to pay attention to the amount of protein you consume daily to avoid excessive protein intake.
Unpleasant Breath Odor
When you consume an excessive amount of protein and significantly reduce your carbohydrate intake, your body initiates the process of burning fats as a “fuel” substitute for the insufficient carbohydrates. A substance called ketones is produced, resulting in unpleasant breath odor.
Increased Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
The risk of developing cardiovascular disease significantly increases if you maintain an unhealthy high-protein diet. Several scientific studies have indicated that plant-based proteins have a better ability to protect the cardiovascular system and prevent various diseases compared to animal protein. Additionally, animal protein often contains high levels of saturated fats, which are known to contribute to heart disease. No protein source is inherently “bad,” but it’s important to monitor the calorie and saturated fat content in foods to optimize cardiovascular health.
Heavy Metal Poisoning
According to various surveys, protein supplements in the form of functional foods may contain toxic heavy metals. Prolonged use of these products can potentially lead to heavy metal poisoning and associated health issues such as headaches, constipation, and even cancer…
How much protein is recommended for the body each day?
So, we now have the answer to what health conditions excess protein can cause. But what constitutes excess? How much protein is recommended for the body each day? The amount of protein that needs to be supplemented in the body depends on factors such as gender, age, level of physical activity, and body condition.
According to the Institute of Medicine (IOM), the daily protein requirement that the body needs to provide is:
|Age and gender||Recommended amount (g/day)|
|0-6 months old||9.1|
|6-12 months old||11|
|1-3 years old||13|
|4-8 years old||19|
|9-13 years old||34|
|14-18 years old||52|
|Over 19 years old||56|
|9-13 years old||34|
|Over 14 years old||46|
In addition, physical activity also affects the body’s protein requirements. Specific cases such as athletes, gym-goers, and individuals engaged in heavy labor require higher protein supplementation than normal.
Considering the concerns related to excess protein, it is important to be cautious when incorporating various foods into your diet. If more than 35% of your daily calorie intake comes from unhealthy protein sources, it’s time to reconsider your eating habits. Seek advice from specialized doctors if you belong to specific groups
Here are some signs of excess protein that you should be aware of:
- Mood swings: Frequent feelings of anxiety, irritability, fatigue, and sleepiness are common signs of excess protein. When we focus too much on and consume an excessive amount of protein, we often tend to neglect sufficient carbohydrate intake. This affects the functioning of the nervous system, leading to unstable moods. Improve this condition by incorporating healthy complex carbohydrates from fruits, brown rice, whole grains, and yogurt while limiting starchy carbs.
- Weight gain: As explained in the section “Effects of Excess Protein,” when you consume an excessive amount of protein, your body stores it as fats, eventually leading to weight gain. Experts recommend aiming for healthier meals by including whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. A helpful tip to estimate the nutrient groups on your plate is to allocate ½ for fruits or vegetables, ¼ for starches or whole grains, and ¼ for protein. This is a balanced approach to eating recommended by nutrition experts.
- Digestive disorders: A diet rich in protein and low in carbohydrates, including insufficient fiber, can lead to constipation or diarrhea (especially when consuming processed foods). Increase your water intake and consume a sufficient amount of 25 grams of fiber from vegetables and grains daily to prevent these conditions.
- Constant thirst: Feeling constantly thirsty is another sign of excess protein. When you consume an excessive amount of protein, your kidneys work at maximum capacity to excrete the excess protein. This process leads to increased urination, causing the body to lose more water and affecting kidney health. Consequently, you feel constantly thirsty and in need of hydration.
- Unpleasant breath odor: Insufficient carbohydrate intake forces the brain to rely on fuel from fats, leading to an increased production of ketones (chemicals with a fruity scent). This can result in unpleasant breath odor.
- Gout: As explained earlier, gout develops when there is an excessive amount of uric acid in the blood. According to several studies, this can be a consequence of a diet high in purines or excessive production of uric acid in the body. If you experience symptoms of gout, it’s likely that you are consuming an excessive amount of protein. Adjust your diet to a healthier and more balanced approach.
Please note that it is important to consult with healthcare professionals if you experience any of these signs or have specific concerns related to your dietary habits.
Here are 5 important guidelines to remember for building a balanced diet
- Diversify your food choices: It is important to build a healthy and balanced diet that includes all the essential nutrient groups in appropriate amounts and proportions. Ensure that you meet the recommended minimum intake of carbohydrates, protein, fats, etc.
If you follow a vegetarian or dairy-free diet and cannot consume certain nutrients found in meat or dairy products, you can still create an ideal eating plan by balancing various types of protein- and fat-rich vegetables and plant-based sources. Additionally, make sure to drink enough water to facilitate the easy and efficient absorption of nutrients.
- Choose fresh and quality food: To maximize the nutritional content of your meals, it is best to choose fresh, tasty, and safely sourced food products. Processed foods often contain high amounts of salt and preservatives. Therefore, it is advisable to limit fast food consumption and opt for fresh animal products that are obtained on the same day.
- Eat in appropriate portions: Clearly, “nutritional imbalance” caused by consuming too much or too little of a specific nutrient can be detrimental to your body, posing serious risks. Therefore, in addition to diversifying your food choices, pay attention to the quantities of nutrients your body needs to supplement. Consult a specialist before embarking on a new dietary plan, especially if you are undergoing treatment for specific conditions or belong to different demographic groups.
- Diversify cooking methods: Remember that a healthy diet does not have to be complicated. However, make sure to enjoy nutritious foods by diversifying your cooking methods for the whole family. This not only helps you achieve the desired nutritional intake but also makes family meals more delicious and appealing.
- Maintain an active lifestyle: Alongside a healthy eating plan, organize and balance your work and daily activities to achieve the best state of health. Remember to maintain this routine over an extended period.
The above article provided a detailed answer to the question “What diseases can excess protein cause?” along with valuable guidelines to help you build a balanced nutritional diet. We hope this information is helpful to you and your family in achieving optimal health. Don’t forget to click “SUBSCRIBE” at the top of the page to receive daily updates on various nutrition-related topics from goodheathplan.com! Wishing you and your family good health!
Johnny Jacks was born in 1985 in Texas, USA. He is the founder of Good Health Plan and is passionate about helping people improve their health and physical well-being. With over a decade of experience working in the healthcare industry, he currently works at Goodheathplan.com – a blog that shares knowledge on beauty and health.