The Problem With Protein

Mar 26, 2024

When you read this blog, it might seem like I'm throwing you a curveball, because if you've been around here for very long, you know I'm a huge proponent of adequate protein consumption…and specifically, clean animal protein.


You are, after all, MADE of protein! Every cell and tissue in your body is built from this macronutrient. Protein helps the body repair itself, keeps us fuller longer, helps to maintain muscle and bone mass, and can help reduce sugar cravings. So, you might be more than a little bit surprised that the title of this blog is:


The Problem With Protein


Wait. Whaaaat???


Yup. I said it. 


But, let me explain how protein can morph from friend to foe. 


About 9 out of 10 clients that I work with have insufficient stomach acid. This can be the result of stress, age, poor diet, medications, chronic infections, and more. Low stomach acid is problematic because we NEED a highly acidic stomach for many reasons….not the least of which is this fact: the majority of animal protein you ingest is broken down by acid in the stomach. 


Having insufficient stomach acid means that the protein you eat cannot be properly digested. When this is the case, undigested animal protein will make its way through the digestive tract into the colon, or large bowel, where it sits and putrefies. 


It's important to note that bits of undigested animal protein should not even reach the colon, as protein should have been previously broken down/disassembled by stomach acid, sent to the small intestine for final digestion, and then sent into the bloodstream to do it's many jobs throughout the body.


When bits of animal protein do land in the colon (large intestine) the bacteria that feed on those protein remnants multiply. These types of bacteria (proteobacteria), when overrepresented, are highly inflammatory in the colon, lead to the destruction of the intestinal wall (leaky gut), and produce toxic compounds like Ammonia, P-Cresol, and Hydrogen Sulfide. These compounds escape into circulation through a leaky gut wall, where they harm the liver and kidneys, are neurotoxic, and create inflammation throughout the body….which leads to all disease. 


So, in this scenario, protein does, indeed, become a problem. In order to solve this problem we need to back things up to the beginning….back to:

  • proper chewing & being in a calm state during a meal
  • producing (or taking supplemental) digestive enzymes
  • working to rebuild sufficient stomach acid
  • working to decrease any inflammation that exists throughout the digestive tract.


It's also important to eat plenty of (and a wide variety of) veggies, fruits, beans, seeds, and nuts, as their fibers and polyphenols feed beneficial gut bacteria. So often, when we embark on a higher protein diet, we tend to start omitting plant foods. We demonize crucial carbs (like beans and legumes), thinking that they are too "starchy" or caloric. The gut needs those plant fibers to maintain its' diverse and robust ecosystem, just like it needs root vegetables, sweet potatoes, purple potatoes, and veggies representing every color of the rainbow! We cannot ignore the microbiomes's deep need for plant foods and mistake them for the enemy in the quest to consume more animal protein. Indeed, without sufficient plant fibers feeding and diversifying the gut, protein can become toxic and harmful to the microbiome and to the entire body. 


So, is there a problem with protein?




  • If the digestive system is not working efficiently
  • If protein is fermenting in the gut
  • If there is not a great diversity of plant foods being eaten daily


Jumping on a high protein diet without a body that can support it can be very problematic….so give this blog a re-read, focus on your entire digestive tract, and be sure you are eating every color of the rainbow every day!


As always….


I wish you good health.