I get this question from people I speak to about my diet quite frequently. It is a question I am quite used to by now.
Where do I get protein?
I get it from the same place you do. My liver. It is probably the most important organ for making protein in my body. It creates millions of molecules of protein each and every day from amino acids for many different purposes. Some of these amino acids are already in my body available for use while others I get from my food.
You see, my body does not need me to eat protein any more than your body needs you to. And it does not need me to eat anything animal to get protein because again it does not need protein. It needs amino acids and our body would benefit the most by doing the least amount of work for those amino acids. At the lowest metabolic cost.
Yes, you can if you so choose, get your amino acids from animal-based sources but it is not necessary.
It is our body that makes the proteins it needs from the broken-down foods we eat. All of them contain amino acids.
As well, all the amino acids we humans need are bound up within our own cells that were formed within our body, so yes our body does store amino acids for later use. As every cell in our body has a limited use window(lifetime), they all will eventually be either sluffed off on the outside or reabsorbed into the vascular system on the inside. These proteins get broken down by the lymphocytes within the lymphatic system and ultimately make their way back into general vascular circulation to be processed by our organs for reuse or elimination if we have more than necessary. We also continually sluff off the lining of our G.I. tract which is also conveniently made of all the amino acids that were previously used to build our proteins the last time around. Our body is very efficient and conservative by nature.
Of course, we still need additional amino acids, most of which can be supplied very easily each and every day even by someone that consumes a raw whole food plant-based diet. The amount we need though is very small compared to the large volume that most people in the Western world consume daily.
How much protein(amino acids) do we need? It would appear that it is much less than most people would believe. What follows is the composition of human breast milk.
- 86-88% water.
- 7% carbohydrates, mainly lactose, benefits gut microbiota and aids in calcium absorption.
- 4% fats for the development of the brain, eyes, and nervous system.
- 1% proteins for essential building blocks, growth, and development.
- 0.2% vitamins and minerals
- 0.5%-2% prebiotics for healthy gut bacteria growth and immune support.
As you can see, even a fully developing baby over its first few years needs only a small amount of high-quality protein.