Breaking down of protein creates homocysteine as a by-product in your system that in turn can increase risk of several ailments like stroke, blood clot, atherosclerosis, miscarriage, osteoporosis and dementia. Opt for a diet that has a good mix of proteins, carbs and vitamins. Also add colorful fruits and veggies to include for a wide array of micronutrients in your diet.
Out of all of the macronutrients (carbohydrate, fat, and protein), protein is the one that seems to be a nutritional rockstar according to the media. Fat spent it’s fair share as the scapegoat for all that is wrong with the world and now it’s carbohydrates.
But is all this fear-mongering of nutrients helping? It surely doesn’t seem so. And as we continue to see protein as the star macronutrient and increase our intake, are we getting healthier?
Nowadays you can find a “high protein” version of anything. Tortillas, cookies, juice, you name it, they’ve got it. As a nation, we continue to see levels of chronic disease rise, so I think we’ve passed the time when we need to question our love of protein and hate of carbs and fats. That brings me to homocysteine.
What is Homocysteine?
Homocysteine comes from the amino acid, methionine. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and when you eat protein, your body breaks it down into amino acids and then even further. When your body breaks down methionine, homocysteine is created as a by-product. This is a normal bodily reaction when we eat methionine-containing foods.
Certain vitamins including folic acid, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 regulate the level of homocysteine in our bodies. But what happens if your body doesn’t have enough of these vitamins to regulate homocysteine?
Molecular Structure of Homocysteine
When our bodies don’t have enough folic acid, vitamin B6, or vitamin B12, levels of homocysteine may rise. Elevated homocysteine levels contribute to many chronic diseases including atherosclerosis (the hardening of arteries due to plaque buildup), thromboembolism (blood clot), stroke, osteoporosis, miscarriage and dementia.
In studies, when levels of folic acid, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 were supplemented in an effort to decrease homocysteine, the result was not very effective. This is likely due to the fact that supplementation with these select nutrients throws the balance of other micronutrients off, which can also contribute to disease.1
Where Does Homocysteine Come From?
A high protein diet increases an individual’s homocysteine levels. This is due to the fact that homocysteine comes from methionine, and many methionine-containing foods are very high-protein foods. Foods that contain methionine include eggs, chicken, and fish – the very foods that you have probably heard are very good for you in copious amounts!
To decrease homocysteine levels to a normal amount it’s important to eat a well-balanced diet. This includes a balance of plant-based proteins, a variety of complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats. A dietary effort aimed at reducing homocysteine levels should also emphasize colorful fruits and vegetables that contain a wide array of micronutrients.
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||Varga, Elizabeth A., et al. “Homocysteine and MTHFR mutations relation to thrombosis and coronary artery disease.” Circulation 111.19 (2005): e289-e293.|