What is Protein and Why is it Important?
One of the most rewarding things about becoming more conscious about the way you eat is learning about the importance behind eating certain foods and the effect that food has on our body. The saying “food is medicine” has been around for thousands of years and is especially timely now. There are many lessons that we can take away from humanity’s experience over the past couple of years, but perhaps one of the most universal truths is that good health should never be taken for granted. It’s so important to build a healthy foundation for your body and immune system, and luckily it is easier than ever to obtain healthy foods and nutritional knowledge so that we can make better choices. There is such a wealth of knowledge at our fingertips, not to mention a plethora of foods to meet your nutritional needs no matter what your dietary preferences or restrictions might be.
One of the most important and fundamental nutrients for our bodies is protein. Protein is responsible for essentially building us from the ground up. It is found in muscle, bone, skin, hair, and pretty much every one of our organs and tissues. If you’re active, you’re likely well aware of the role that protein plays in helping to rebuild our muscles after a workout, or strengthening bones. But protein plays a much bigger role than that. As this Healthline article explains, enzymes - which allow for important chemical reactions in the body to take place - are proteins, as are hormones that act as messengers for many of the body’s important functions. Protein not only helps to build our bones, muscles, and cells, but it helps the body’s various systems communicate with each other, in addition to building the immune system and antibodies to help keep us healthy and combat infections. Without adequate protein, the body’s ability to function properly is greatly reduced.
The Source of Your Protein is Important
The good news is, protein is readily available and found in a variety of different foods, both plant based and animal based. As we’ll explore in this post, the source of your protein is pretty important, and this is something that many people may not be aware of.
As this article from the Harvard School of Public Health “Nutrition Source” publication explains, not all protein is created equal. In addition to ensuring that you’re consuming enough protein to fuel your body, it’s also important to pay attention to where that protein is coming from. The article talks about the difference in obtaining protein from, say, a piece of steak as compared to a bowl of lentils. Both contain protein, but the animal protein also contains saturated fat, or in the case of certain meats, high amounts of sodium - the consumption of which should be limited for optimal health. The lentils, on the other hand, not only contain no saturated fat, but are also incredibly high in fiber, another essential nutrient that helps our body function the way it’s supposed to. The article’s author describes how it’s not just important to make sure you eat enough protein, but that the “protein package” that it comes in is important as well.
The protein package of spent grain flour is pretty impressive. Not only does one serving of spent grain flour contain 15 grams of protein, but it also boasts 18 grams of fiber and is low carb to boot. The Nutrition Source article advises that we obtain our protein from plants whenever possible, both for the healthful impact on our bodies and the lessened impact on the environment from the production of plant-based protein as compared to animal proteins. When you get your protein from spent grain flour, you’re taking that one step further by eating a product that actually has a positive impact on the environment due to the way it is produced. Spent grain flour is upcycled from the leftover barley product of the beer-making process, repurposing something that would otherwise go to waste and end up in a landfill.
Spent Grain Flour is High Quality, Plant Based Protein
Whether you follow a plant based diet completely or are just looking to eat more plant based foods, spent grain flour offers an easy way to incorporate plant based protein into your life. It’s a versatile food that can be used for everything from breakfast goodies to baked goods. And unlike most flours which provide high levels of carbohydrates along with a minuscule amount of fiber, spent grain flour offers a high protein, low carb, and high fiber alternative.
Reasons to Eat More Plant Based Protein
We’ve discussed why protein as a whole is important, but there are also reasons to focus on the importance of plant based protein in particular. Plant based protein is lower in calories and saturated fat than animal protein, and much higher in fiber. Some of our previous blog posts have detailed the importance of adequate fiber to a healthy diet, from its impact on gut health to the possibility that it can decrease your risk of certain diseases, including cancer. This goes back to our previous discussion about the “protein package” that you’re consuming - and making sure that the food you eat doesn’t package its protein along with other unhealthy things like saturated fat or high sodium.
The environmental impact of raising animals for human consumption also leaves a lot to be desired. The good news is that many agri-businesses are working towards changing this, and using regenerative agriculture practices which are better for the environment and for the animals. But as of right now these responsible businesses are still in the minority, and reducing consumption of animal products, especially those that are conventionally and factory farmed, has a positive impact on both your health and the environment.
Spent grain flour is an upcycled, eco friendly way to ensure that your body is getting adequate protein when added to a nutritious diet. It’s definitely worth examining your eating habits to ensure that you’re getting enough protein. If you think that the way you eat could use some work, consider adding spent grain flour as a low carb, high fiber, and plant based way to round out your protein consumption.