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Take your pick and eat the right protein

Vahdaneh Vahid

Published: Updated:

Protein is essential to repair, regenerate and to reproduce cells in your body. Beside other important factors, protein of the highest quality is anti-aging. If you had the choice of using expensive skin aging creams rather than eating a good source of animal protein, which would you choose?

In addition to this, something most people not consume is Gelatin, which is another healthy protein source. Protein is made up of many amino acids, two in particular are called Proline and Glycine and are found in Gelatin to a far greater degree than muscle meats. These amino acids are both anti-inflammatory and since most of us suffer from inflammation, caused by stressful lifestyles and poor diet choice, both are important.

Making bone broth is a brilliant way to add some Gelatin in your diet and is also a very cost effective way of cooking, as bones are cheaper to obtain than muscle meats.

Finding food

Eggs are a pure source of protein, if you can find and support local farms when buying eggs, this is beneficial for your health and for the environment. Any products that are labeled “free-range” allow the animals to roam free outdoors catching good sunlight. Refer back to last week’s article on the importance of sunlight on your health.

The aim here is to avoid eating poor quality proteins that are not good for your health and cause inflammation in the body

Vahdaneh Vahid

Animals that are kept in good conditions and allowed to roam in nature are stress free during their existence. A very important fact most people are not aware of is that all birds (Poultry) are omnivores, like us humans, in terms of digestion and diet. But, commercially raised industrial hens and chickens are fed a diet rich in corn, soy or grains, firstly because it is profitable and secondly, it causes birds too gain weight very fast. So, if we eat birds raised on such a diet, we are likely to digest the very food they eat.

Chickens are natural peckers, so when roaming free in nature their diet should consist of insects. If you cannot get such good quality chicken, then stick to local grain fed chicken. And your last choice should then be store bought free range or cage free eggs. This is the same for any poultry you buy.

Eating cheese is important. It is a dairy product which causes allergies for many people, for that reason I strongly recommend making homemade cheese from unpasteurized milk, therefore you know exactly what is going into your cheese.

Your second option should be store brought Cottage cheese or Ricotta cheese, but pay close attention when buying any cheese products, try reading labels carefully. With regards to store purchased Ricotta cheese, look out for an ingredient called whey, something you want to avoid. Other hard cheeses such as Feta, Havarti, Halloumi, Mozzarella and Parmesan are all easy to find without additives, these cheese usually only contain the following ingredients: milk, rennet, salt and cultures. All of which are totally safe and usually non-allergenic for most people.

Choosing red meat

When choosing red meat, either fresh or frozen, again try to support your local farms and purchase Free-Range/Grass-fed meat where possible.

For animals such as cows, lambs and bison, their natural diets ought to consist of grass and hay during the colder periods. Sadly again, commercially raised industrial animals are fed a diet high in soy, corn and grains to fatten then up. They also use hormones and anabolic steroids to help speed up this process.

If you select store brought meat, then your best choice is free-range, if you cannot obtain this then go for organic, hormone and preservative free meats. Organic doesn’t necessary mean these animals are roaming free outside, it just indicates the feed of these animals is of an organic source. It is always best to have a good conversation with the butcher to find out more information on the welfare of these animals and how they are raised and what they have been fed. You are what You eat after all! If you’re eating commercially raised red meat from animals raised in stressful conditions then the quality of the protein they produce will be very poor.

Got milk?

Milk is another great source of protein that I highly recommend, but the problem lies again in the high amounts of commercially farmed cattle and the added additives that can cause allergic reactions. If you have got a connection with a local farm then milk is another product you should purchase directly from them. Raw milk is your top choice. Raw, meaning unpasteurized, means that all the live enzymes have not been destroyed during the pasteurizing process. The next option would be store brought milk from grass-fed cows, again read labels too see details on how the cattle are raised. Your third choice should then be store brought organic milk and finally if you cannot purchase any of these, then store brought rBGH free milk would be your last choice.

When selecting yogurt try to pick plain organic, hormone free whole milk yogurt, plain Greek Yogurt or plain natural yogurt. Any other yogurt that states it is reduced fat, fat free or contains added flavorings will most defiantly contain a large amounts of E-numbers and unnatural ingredients.

With fish, always ask the fishmonger if the fish were caught in the wild, this would be the first choice as farmed fish, commercially raised again, are fed grains. Secondly, select mainly Shellfish such as (Shrimp, mussels, clams, oysters, crab and lobster) this category of fish live near the shore and are high in trace minerals and low in fat. I do not recommend eating any oily based fish as these are high in PUFA’s (polyunsaturated fats), these types of fats oxidize in your cells and this process is very harmful to the body. If you cannot obtain shellfish then pick wild caught other low fat fish such as cod, sole and flounder.

Organ meats (liver is your best choice) are very high in B-vitamins and minerals, so eating them two to three times a week is better than any supplement pill on the market.

But, they should be brought extremely fresh, as the older the meats are the greater chances of toxins being present, hence their bitter taste.

The aim here is to avoid eating poor quality proteins that are not good for your health and cause inflammation in the body.

Try to familiarize yourself which the following unnatural ingredients hidden in supermarket proteins. You should avoid all the ingredients listed below:

Protein powders (whey, soy, egg white, pea and rice based) and highly processed meats – such as cold meats brought in packages and over counters. American and other processed cheese products, cage raised or factory raised chickens and their eggs, ultra pasteurized milk and farm raised fish. Nitrates, BHA, BHT, Carrageenan, Monosodium, Glutamate (MSG), Sodium erythrobate, Bovine growth hormone (rBGH), Corn syrup, Modified food starch, Annatto colour and/ or sodium phosphate.

So, remember when it comes to reading labels, if you don’t recognize an ingredient, then when eaten, your body is not going to either.

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Vahdaneh Vahid is a UK-based Personal Trainer who recently moved to Dubai. She has had an interest in fitness from a young age. Her motto is now "Train Don't Drain" and teaches her clients that a balanced understanding of their physical, mental and emotional wellness is key. She can be found on Twitter: @vvfitness

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.