Many people are looking to incorporate more plant-based protein into their diets, whether it be for a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, environmental concerns, a meat-less Monday, or just for a little variety. Tube feeding family members are no exception.
It is important that everyone consumes enough protein in their daily diet. Understanding the differences in animal vs. plant proteins can go a long way towards guaranteeing that your family’s protein needs are being met. That’s why we enlisted Francine Allen, RDN, LDN, Medical Affairs Manager at Nestlé Health Science who is part of the team behind our Compleat® Organic Blends tube feeding formulas, to fill us in on answers to common questions regarding animal vs. plant protein.
1. First of all, why is protein so important?
Protein is critical for good health, especially in growing bodies, and to prevent muscle loss as we age. Protein is a key structural component of muscles, bones, hair, and nails. Protein is part of all cells, enzymes, and hormones that the body needs to function. Protein is important for the proper functioning of immune cells and for the transporting of nutrients throughout the body. That’s why Compleat® Organic Blends tube feeding formulas contain 13 grams of animal or plant protein in the pediatric formula and 19 grams of animal or plant protein in the adult formula per serving.
Unlike carbohydrates and fats, protein cannot be stored in the body. So, it is important that everyone get enough protein each day. The amount of protein needed for those who are tube feeding is highly dependent on their medical condition and the reason for tube feeding. For example, a child may need tube feeding because of a specific medical condition, such as cystic fibrosis or cerebral palsy. An adult may need tube feeding after a stroke or after GI surgery. Your doctor or registered dietitian nutritionist should be able to provide specific advice on the amount of protein required each day.
2. Are there benefits to both animal and plant-based protein?
Protein is found in a variety of different foods, including meat, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy products (milk, yogurt, cheese), beans, legumes, grains, nuts, and seeds. Animal proteins are single-source complete proteins, meaning they provide all the essential amino acids required for a healthy diet. For plant-based proteins, you may need to combine different types to get all the essential amino acids.
However, there are a lot of benefits of plant-based protein, particularly where the environment is concerned. For example, plant-based proteins are produced with less water and carbon than animal-sourced foods.1
The protein in the Compleat® Organic Blends Plant-Based tube feeding formulas comes primarily from a blend of peas and rice protein. And, as the name says, chicken is the primary protein source in the Chicken-Garden Blend tube feeding formula.
The organic hydrolyzed pea protein in Compleat® Organic Blends Plant-Based tube feeding formula comes from yellow field peas. Our organic hydrolyzed pea protein is non-GMO*, certified organic, vegan**, gluten-free, and soy-free.
*All organic products are non-GMO
**The protein blend is vegan, but the formula is not vegan, due to the source of vitamin D.
3. What is the difference between animal vs plant-based proteins?
The difference lies in the building blocks of proteins—the amino acids. There are 20 different amino acids, 9 of which are essential meaning they must be provided by the foods in our diet. The other 11 amino acids are called non-essential because they are made by the body. Foods containing all of the 9 essential amino acids are called complete proteins. Animal and plant-based proteins can contain different combinations or amounts of the 20 different amino acids.
4. Are plant proteins complete proteins?
Some plant proteins are complete, such as soy and quinoa, but others like beans are not. However, you can combine two or more plant proteins to create a complete protein. In fact, that’s what we did when we created Compleat® Organic Blends Plant-Based tube feeding formula. We combined proteins from peas, brown rice, and sweet potatoes to create a formula that provides complete protein in our plant-based formula.
Compleat® Organic Blends Plant-Based formula combines two or more plant proteins to create a complete protein.
5. For some meals, I blend my own tube feeding formula. Is it important to have complete animal or plant-based proteins in every meal?
In general, it’s not necessary to consume a complete protein at every meal as long as you get all of the essential amino acids throughout the day. If you blend your own formula, you should review your blended formula with a registered dietitian nutritionist to make sure you are providing individual and combinations of animal or plant-based protein sources to meet your needs. Using a commercial formula, such as Compleat® Organic Blends tube feeding formula, at one or more feedings a day, is another way to make sure you are getting adequate protein.
Find out more about Compleat® Organic Blends tube feeding formulas
For more information on Compleat® Organic Blends tube feeding formulas, visit our Compleat® Organic Blends website.
Compleat® Organic Blends tube feeding formulas are intended for use under medical supervision. Please consult with your healthcare provider to find out if Compleat® Organic Blends is right for you or your loved one.
- UCLA Sustainability: https://www.sustain.ucla.edu/our-initiatives/food-systems/the-case-for-plant-based/