I learned so much from talking to our next guest about a topic that’s definitely relevant and important to everybody. We were talking about proteins. I know it sounds a little weird, but proteins are the basic building blocks of the human body.
Our next guest, Dr. David Minkoff says, most people are malnourished in amino acids which are required to form protein. And efficiency that can lead to diabetes, obesity, cancer and chronic diseases. It’s a serious problem for which Dr. David Minkoff offers a powerful solution in his book, The Search for the Perfect Protein.
David Minkoff: Well, I’ve been working in this area intensively for 20 years. So, I see patients every day and I work with athletes and sick people. There was a common denominator that I found in that they were not getting enough essential amino acids in their body in order for their body to work correctly. Essential amino acids are critical in building lean body tissue, detoxification, in building bones, in building hormones, neurotransmitters.
As I was measuring these in people, I was seeing that virtually, all of them, while they thought they were eating a good diet or getting enough protein, that they weren’t really getting it. So, when I started to supplement these in people’s diets and I was the first patient so to speak because I experimented on myself.
My hobby is Iron Man triathlons, so I spend a fair amount of time every week exercising. I push my body hard, and some years ago, I got injured and I couldn’t get myself to heal. I found that by taking essential amino acids, it healed my body. Then sort of a light went on.
Maybe other people have the same problem.
When I started to measure it, I found that that was true. Then when I started to give them to patients as a part of a bigger program that they really showed improvement and they really got better.
What are Proteins
Rae Williams: Let’s kind of take it back a bit to protein for dummies if you will. What are proteins, what are we using them for and why do we need them and where do we get them?
David Minkoff: Okay, a protein is made out of something smaller, called amino acids. If you think of it like language, in English, we have 26 letters. If you put the letters together in different combinations, you get words. And in the English language, there’s probably I don’t know, 400- or 500,000 words. Lots of words. Some of them are one letter, some of them are 25 letters.
But if you then make the analogy to protein, there’s an alphabet of these substances called amino acids. There’s 22 of them. Amino in Greek means nitrogen.
So, these are compounds in nature which include nitrogen. All proteins have nitrogen, carbohydrates and fats don’t have nitrogen. That’s the main difference.
So you have these 22 building blocks called amino acids, and if you put them together in different combinations, you get different proteins. In our body, there’s about 50,000 different proteins. Now, some of them are very simple, it’s one amino acid. Like thyroid hormone is one amino acid, and it’s got an iodine attached to it or a couple of iodides.
If you take muscle, like skeletal muscle, the actin, the protein in muscle, I think it has 5,800 amino acids per one fiber of muscle.
Sometimes these things are very simple, sometimes they’re complicated. Skin, hair, bones, immune cells, neurotransmitters, bones, these are all made out of proteins, which are made out of amino acids.
Rae Williams: Where did you go from there after making that discovery on yourself?
David Minkoff: Well, it’s called perfect protein because there is a particular combination of amino acids. If you feed those to the body, some of them that are essential, like if you don’t eat them, the body can’t make them. There’s eight of these. If you eat the eight, the body can make the other 14.
And there is a certain combination of the eight essential amino acids which the body can utilize to make protein almost perfectly.
It can soak it all up and then it will make whatever proteins it needs. Most dietary proteins vary in how well the body can use them to make its own protein.
Let’s say for example, if you have a glass of milk, the proteins in the milk, our body is only able to take about 16% of them and make it into our own body protein.
If you have say a steak, about 33% of those proteins. Our body can actually utilize to make its own protein.
In The Search for the Perfect Protein, there is a combination of these eight essential amino acids where 99% of it gets made into body protein so it’s very powerful to help make protein.
Rae Williams: What exactly is this combination, and does it vary whether we are older, younger, male, female, that kind of thing?
David Minkoff: The combination is a mixture, it’s very precise, of the eight essential amino acids. It does not matter if you’re a newborn baby or if you’re old. When you’re old, you probably need more of them, but the perfect formula does not change. It’s the exact formula for humans.
Now, if you fed this stuff to dogs, it wouldn’t work as well, or birds, it wouldn’t work as well. There’s probably another unique combination for them.
But I have used this formula in very young babies when they were unable to eat successfully through some medical problems. It allowed them to grow very well. You can give them to older people and allows them to rebuild muscle or improve their own attitude because the neurotransmitters in their brain are – the body’s now able to synthesize them. They feel better.
Often, people say my hair is growing better or gee whiz, now my nails are better. Because when they take this stuff, their body is able to make proteins in enough supply to make everything work better.
Rae Williams: What are some of the other deficiencies and side effects we might see if we are not getting this combination?
David Minkoff: The person might be depressed or they can’t sleep or they’re anxious or their thyroid hormone is low, so they don’t have enough energy. They might have osteoporosis, like their bones aren’t being made or kept solid enough. In an athlete, you might see someone is continually sore like they don’t actually recover, or they’re working out very hard and they’re not getting gains. Let’s say they’re going to the weight room and they’re lifting and they’re lifting, but they’re not actually getting any stronger.
These are all aspects of not enough protein in the body to repair or manufacture what is needed.
And, this is taken as a supplement. The food goes only so far in this, but there is a supplement which is a mixture of these eight essential amino acids, which is sort of the secret sauce. If you add this to someone, then their ability, their body’s ability to make protein goes way up.
Debunking Protein Myths
Rae Williams: In your book, you have a chapter called Protein Myths. What are some of those?
David Minkoff: Well, one of the myths is that all proteins are equal. If you look on the side of your container and it says, 14 grams of protein. Then you look, let’s say a nutritional food bar and it says 14 grams of protein. But that food bar’s made out of soy isolate or you look at a can of sardines and it says, 14 grams of protein.
The myth is that they’re equal in when you eat them, in your body’s ability to take those things and make protein out of them.
Each protein has a different value for the body because the protein in fish or meat or eggs or soy beans, our body is able to utilize not as well, depending on what it is. If you go to a say, a standard dietician and she says okay, “You need 70 grams of protein a day. Have two slices of whole wheat bread, have some salmon with your lunch, have a couple of eggs for breakfast and have some brown rice protein for dinner,” as if each one is equal and all you need is 60, that is not true.
Each protein may not be very good. If you take the 14 grams in a yogurt of diet of milk protein, really, only 17% or 16% of that is going to be able to be used by the body. You have to multiply it by 16% and say you’re not getting 14 grams of protein, you’re getting six or three.
And if you’re trying to get to 60, you’ve got to eat proteins that are higher quality or you’re never going to get there. A lot of people, if they add in as a dietary supplement, this perfect protein, this perfect amino blend, then they get enough protein at the end of the day.
One of the popular things now is collagen. It’s like, eat collagen, it’s the perfect protein. A third of the body is made out of collagen. But really, collagen as a dietary protein, is very poorly utilized by the body to make its own protein.
The way it’s made up is you can’t eat collagen and expect your body to make the collagen. It doesn’t work that way, you have to – the body has to break the collagen down into individual amino acids and then reassemble them and it doesn’t go very well. So, for every portion of collagen that you eat, almost no body protein is made, the body can’t use it.
Those would be two of the common myths about protein. Here’s another one. It’s like, egg protein. Whole egg is the best dietary protein. But, if you just eat the egg whites, people go to restaurants and say, well, “I don’t want to eat the egg yolks, my cholesterol is high. I’m just going to eat the whites.”
Three quarters of the benefit of the egg is actually coming from the yolk. If you don’t eat the yolk, you miss out on eggs as a really good protein. That egg white omelet is not a good idea. You should eat the whole egg, and then it’s a very good protein.
Rae Williams: You also talk in the book about barriers to protein digestion and absorption. What would some of those be and how can we avoid those?
David Minkoff: Probably one of the most common ones is people have heartburn so they take medications to block their stomach acid. So, Pepcid, Nexium, Tagamet—these are very popular drugs. They can be prescribed by the doctor, and now many of them are over the counter. If you take those drugs, the acid in your stomach which is required to digest protein, is blocked. So your stomach is unable to produce stomach acid if you take these drugs.
Then when you eat some protein, you have some eggs or some fish or some meat, your body’s ability to digest the protein goes way, way down because it is required to have acid to digest protein.
So many people are protein deficient because they are on medications that block their body’s ability to even digest it. And they don’t even know it. That would be a really common one.
The other thing is many people have parasites or funguses or bad bacteria in their intestine, or they lack enzymes to digest protein.
And so, when they eat, they don’t actually get the benefit of the food because it doesn’t get digested or absorbed. So if we look in their blood to see, “Hey what are your amino acid levels? Are you getting enough protein, keep this in a normal range,” we find that they’re not. They are very deficient and they don’t know it.
Most physicians are not specifically testing for this. So, people don’t know that there is actually anything wrong with them.
Rae Williams: When we go to the doctor, especially if we suspect that something is wrong, what should we ask for?
David Minkoff: I would ask them to do a serum amino acid panel. Run the blood for these 22 amino acids and especially the eight essential amino acids. If they are not in good range then either you aren’t eating enough quality proteins or you aren’t digesting it well, which means maybe lack of stomach acid or lack of digestive enzymes or an inflammation in your intestine. So you are not able to get them in.
That would be the test that would tell me, “Gee, you really need it.”
Now some people can come in and you will see that their thyroid hormone is low or their growth hormone is low, and these are proteins. Or that they have osteoporosis. A lot of people who have osteoporosis are just given medication to supposedly make their bones better or to take calcium, but that isn’t the reason why they don’t have good bones. The reason is their body is unable to make the protein on which the bones are formed.
Rae Williams: You mentioned the perfect protein is a supplement that we can take, but I imagine it does not work without the proper diet as well. So, what are your recommendations for a diet that will complement this supplement?
David Minkoff: Okay, we are all unique, but I find for most of the people I see, if they go on a paleo type diet, this diet is as organic as you can get, that is really important. The second thing is the diet is made out of meats, fish, eggs, fruits and vegetables, and nuts and seeds. You can have the flours or milk from nuts and seeds like almond milk or coconut milk or almond flour or coconut flour or tapioca flour things like that.
We have people avoid all grains, so wheat, barley, oats, rye things like that. We have people avoid all dairy products except organic butter. We have them avoid all bean products. So, legumes of any kind and what are called nightshade vegetables—white potatoes, peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, goji berries.
Now for most people if they will go on that diet for a couple of months, they will find that their stomach bloating, their indigestion, their GERD, their constipation in most people will really improve.
And we have them do this with other supplementation, but as a diet this usually works the best. People who are used to eating a lot of sugars may have a couple of weeks where they have to get used to it, where their body is addicted to sugars, so they come off it. But these are the foods that our ancestors ate for most of human history, and most people know if you stand in the grocery store and watch what people eat, it is all chemical, genetically modified, processed junk.
I want people to eat real food.
There is no doubt that a chicken leg is real or a peach is real, but what’s a Triscuit? What is a Cheerio? These things are chemicalized, processed, full of herbicides, glyphosate, and they poison people.
So, the first step in health is you have to eat well, and for most people an organic paleo type diet will really make them feel better. Energy’s better, they sleep better, and their body will perform better.
How to Eat Real Food
Rae Williams: In terms of the processed foods, what are those really doing to us?
David Minkoff: Well they are poisoning us. They are just poisoning us. These synthetic foods are not food, they are chemicals. If you look on a label and you see things that you don’t understand what they are—there is no label on peaches. There is no label on beef steak, because it is just what it is.
As soon as you start seeing preservatives, chemicals, additives, you are in a realm of non-food.
Food is supposed to do two things. One is supply nutrients so the body structure can be healthy and provide energy.
And our bodies don’t know what to do with these things because they never saw them before. People have been eating real foods for millions of years, but they’ve been eating chemical foods for probably 50 or 60 years. So they act as toxins and they’re not good.
I think as much as possible, people should eat local. They should eat seasonally, because again, our bodies are used to this. The timeline for the body has been going on for millions of years. And our bodies have a certain rhythm of, in the winter here is what we ate, in the summer here is what we ate, depending on where we lived. I think if we can stay close to that, we can approximate much better health.
The problem with humanity right now is there are so many chemical toxins in the environment that we’re killing our species. The incidents of cancer, autism, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, osteoporosis is skyrocketing.
So this comes down to lifestyle. It is getting enough sleep, and it’s get some sunshine, and it’s get eat real organic food, and it is getting eight hours of sleep every night, and let’s surround with people who care about you… Doing just that. Take supplementation, because most people need some extra things, but doing just that would go a long way toward resolving the problem with chronic illness that plagues humanity right now.
Rae Williams: If you could issue a challenge to people to change their diet, improve their life, what would that challenge be?
David Minkoff: For the next three months, just do this: Eat an organic paleo diet. Go outside and walk in nature and don’t put sunscreen on. Don’t burn, but be in the sun and expose yourself. Get eight hours of sleep every night. Do some kind of exercise that you enjoy. It could be walking, it could be playing tennis, it could be swimming. It doesn’t matter, but move your body.
If you like to lift weights, lift weights. And then take some basic supplements like a quality multivitamin. Take some amino acid blend. Drink plenty of good water that is non-chemicalized. Get a reverse osmosis system in your house and drink that water and make sure that you have a bowel movement every day. Usually on this diet, people’s constipation goes away, so you will have a bowel movement.
If you are on medication, work with your doctor, as you get better, to reduce your medication as much as you possibly can. Often, with this diet and lifestyle change, people’s weight will normalize. They will lose their excess body fat. They are moving. They are getting some exercise.
A lot of people, if they are diabetic, if they do a paleo diet where they reduce carbohydrates. So, instead of having lots of sweet fruits have them maybe just some berries, reduce sweet potatoes and things like that, so they eating mostly vegetables and proteins. Their blood sugars will normalize.
They will be able to come off their medication and they won’t need to go see the doctor for things that are bothering them. I think if you did that challenge say four to six months, in the majority of people, it would change their life.
Rae Williams: How can we contact you if we want to get more information?
David Minkoff: Two ways. For products, bodyhealth.comis a website where Perfect Amino is sold along with some other supplementation. There are hundreds of articles there on improving health and what you should eat and how you should go about it.
The other one is lifeworkswellnesscenter.com. It is my clinic; I am there every day and we work with people who are mostly chronically ill.
These are people who have serious complex illnesses, autoimmune disease, cancer, Lyme disease, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, to really help them restore their health. We also see a fair number of high end athletes because as we do the same thing with them, they get better too. So if you are a patient seeking help medically, that would be the place to go. If you want just more information on supplements and what you should take, go to bodyhealth.com.