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What Protein Causes Joint Pain

by Kristin Beck
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What Protein Causes Joint Pain

What Protein Causes Joint Pain

“It’s no secret that milk is good for you. It provides calcium for strong bones, vitamin D for strong teeth, B12 for healthy blood cells and iron for healthy red blood cells. You can also get many other nutrients from milk, including carbohydrates, protein, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, potassium and sodium. But what about the protein? Can it be harmful when taken in excess? And what exactly happens if you drink too much protein?
Proteins are chains of amino acids, which means they’re made up of nitrogen-containing molecules called amines. There are 22 different types of amino acids, but only nine occur naturally in our food supply. The others have to be synthesized by the body. Proteins are essential because we need them for building tissues, maintaining muscle mass, fighting infection and regulating bodily functions. Of all proteins, some cause more trouble than others. One troublesome category of proteins causes joint pain.
Casein, the main component of milk (and cheese), has been linked to arthritis-like symptoms. In this article, we’ll learn how casein can harm your joints. We’ll look at how casein affects bone health, how to relieve the pain, and whether there are alternatives or supplements you can take instead. First, let’s explore why this particular kind of protein seems to trigger inflammatory reactions.
The Case Against Milk Products
You might think that any time you eat something with protein, you’ll end up getting an allergic reaction — especially if you don’t like dairy products. However, the immune system reacts differently depending on the source of the protein. People who suffer from allergies tend to react strongly against plant-based proteins, such as soy, while meat-derived proteins seem to cause less of a response. That’s why people with severe allergies should avoid eating foods containing these proteins.
But what happens when you consume large amounts of one specific protein? For example, does drinking three cups of milk per day give you arthritis? Not quite. Dairy products are loaded with two kinds of proteins, casein and whey. While both of these substances can irritate the lining of your digestive tract, causing stomach problems, neither will result in rheumatoid arthritis unless you ingest huge quantities over long periods of time.
This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t worry about consuming lots of protein from dairy products; it just means that you should consider carefully where the protein came from. If you prefer not to eat animal products, then concentrate on non-dairy sources of protein, such as beans, tofu, nuts and whole grains.
In fact, some experts recommend limiting your intake of protein altogether. A diet rich in animal protein increases your risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Other studies show that too much protein in the bloodstream can lead to kidney damage. High levels of protein can also affect calcium balance. Calcium builds strong bones, so it makes sense that having too much would weaken them. Finally, consuming excessive amounts of protein can increase your chances of developing kidney stones.
So now you know why certain proteins make you feel bad. Next, we’ll see how to relieve the discomfort.
Casein and Bone Health
Our bodies require calcium to build strong bones. When we grow older, osteoporosis becomes a concern, since weak bones become brittle and break easily. Osteoporosis occurs when calcium loss outpaces its replacement through normal processes. As we age, our kidneys lose their ability to produce enough urine to flush out toxins, and our intestines slow down their absorption of minerals. These factors combine to reduce our overall mineral intake.
For decades, scientists thought that dairy was beneficial for bone health because it contained plenty of calcium. Now, however, researchers believe that dairy consumption actually contributes to bone loss. According to recent research, women who consumed more than four servings of dairy each day had lower bone density than those who ate fewer than two servings [sources: Lipski, et al., 2000; Lipski].
Researchers suspect that the culprit is casein, the primary protein found in milk. Since milk isn’t digested completely in the gut, the undigested portion ends up circulating throughout the body. Here, the casein gets broken down into smaller pieces, which stimulate the release of cortisol and insulin. Cortisol and insulin both inhibit the production of estrogen, which is necessary for proper bone development.
If you’re worried about losing your bone strength, ask your doctor if low-fat diets are right for you. He or she can help determine appropriate calcium intake based upon your gender and lifestyle.
Another possible reason that dairy products can hurt bone health is due to lactose intolerance. Lactose is a sugar present in milk products that most adults cannot digest properly. Instead, it passes through the small intestine unchanged, and creates gas and bloating. Those suffering from lactose intolerance must either eliminate dairy products entirely or find replacements for them. Soymilk is another popular alternative, though many nutritionists disagree on its effectiveness.
While we’ve discussed the effects of protein on bone strength, there are still questions regarding joint health. On the next page, we’ll talk about the link between casein and joint pain.
Tofu Is Made From Mung Bean Seeds
Non-animal proteins pose a few challenges for the human digestive system. One of the biggest issues is determining whether the protein comes from plants or animals. Tofu is a common vegetarian substitute for animal proteins. It’s made from ground soybeans. Although soybeans do contain protein, that protein comes from the oil inside the bean seeds. To extract oil, soybean farmers use a chemical solvent called hexane. Hexane strips away the protective coating of the soybeans, leaving behind only the raw material. That means that soybeans aren’t really soybeans until after they’ve gone through processing.
When soybeans are heated during the manufacturing process, the oil inside begins to break down into fatty acid chains; the resulting substance is known as lecithin. When lecithin interacts with water, its molecular structure changes. Once combined with water, lecithin forms little micelles, tiny spheres that float freely through the bloodstream. These micelles bind to cholesterol and prevent it from clumping together to form larger particles known as LDL (“”bad””) cholesterol. By preventing cholesterol from combining into larger structures, lecithin helps keep plaque buildup under control.
Soy contains phytolipids, compounds similar to lecithin. Phytolipids have been shown to interfere with the function of prostaglandins, hormones that play a role in keeping inflammation levels low. Because of this, some doctors advise patients with arthritis to avoid soy products. Others claim that soy can actually improve arthritis sufferers’ condition. However, it’s important to remember that the jury’s still out on this issue. More clinical trials are needed before anyone can say definitively whether soy relieves arthritic conditions.
Because of conflicting reports on the subject, the American College of Rheumatology recommends that individuals with mild arthritis avoid using soy products altogether. Eating a balanced diet filled with fruits, vegetables and lean meats will provide you with all of the vitamins and minerals you need without adding unnecessary calories or fats.
On the next page, we’ll find out how protein can aggravate existing arthritis.
How Much Protein Do I Need Each Day?
With arthritis, the first step toward better health is identifying the underlying problem. Many cases of arthritis flare ups are triggered by bacteria, viruses or fungi that enter the body through cracks in the skin. Inflammation sets in once these invaders start wreaking havoc on tissue cells. The result is swelling, tenderness and general aches and pains.
However, sometimes bacterial infections cause no signs of illness. Even if you have no fever, your body releases chemicals that create inflammation. Prolonged exposure to these chemicals can eventually wear away at cartilage and connective tissues, leading to arthritis.
One way to treat bacterial infections is to introduce antibiotics directly into the bloodstream. Antibiotics work quickly to kill off invading germs. Unfortunately, using antibiotic medications to fight chronic bacterial infections could backfire. Overuse of antibiotics can promote the growth of drug-resistant strains of bacteria, making future treatment more difficult. Long-term antibiotic use also disrupts the natural balance of intestinal flora, which can lead to yeast infections.
Since taking antibiotics can encourage microbial resistance, it’s best to consult a physician before starting a new course of medication. If you’ve already received a prescription for an antibiotic, it’s a good idea to discuss ways to manage an acute bacterial infection with your doctor. You can also try topical ointments, creams and lotions designed to ease painful symptoms associated with bacterial ailments.
There are also herbal remedies available that can help alleviate inflammation. Chamomile tea, black pepper and echinacea are among the most effective herbs used for treating arthritis. However, as with antibiotics, it’s best to consult your doctor before trying any herbal remedy.
Now that we’ve looked at the various ways that protein can cause pain, we’ll move onto finding ways to relieve the pain. Read on to discover how supplements and special formulas can help.
Some people experience symptoms of arthritis within days of beginning to consume dairy products. Researchers believe that the culprit”

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