Joe PorterTuesday, January 31, 2023
Every day, Altamont students file into the diner to get their lunch. Inside the diner, students are greeted with many different food options. There is the main line, salad bar, sandwich bar, and a line serving healthier options called the “flex line.” The flex line is not only a great place for students who are trying to eat healthier, but it is also great for athletes trying to get some healthy food before an intense practice or competition. The flex line is also where vegetarians, vegans, and students who avoid gluten go to eat. On days when fried foods are served in the main line, the flex line provides a healthier grilled or baked option. We're extremely lucky to have all these options (not to mention delicious restaurant-quality food on the regular). On days when pasta is served in the main line, however, pasta is also served in the flex line. For athletes or even regular students trying to get enough protein, this can be a problem. There are students, teachers, and staff members who are health conscious, myself included, who think that having lean animal protein in the flex line every day would be fantastic.
One good reason to add more lean animal protein to the flex line is because of the numerous health benefits. According to the Department of Animal Science at Texas A&M University, protein is essential for growth and optimal health in humans. It also notes that it is even more important for young people to get an adequate amount of protein because they are growing faster than adults. Without a sufficient amount of protein, kids are not able to grow at the proper rate. So, for this reason, a lack of dietary protein is less of an issue for adults than it is for children. With Altamont being a school full of young people, the addition of a lean animal protein option every day could improve the health of many students.
The Altamont diner already has quality lean protein recipes in the flex line rotation, including baked chicken, pork chops, grilled chicken, turkey burgers, and more. Jennifer Grissom, Altamont's Food Service Director, says that if a student does not like current options, she will help brainstorm more lean animal protein recipes. Due to budget constraints and supply chain issues, this would not be a fast implementation, but in the long run, it could improve the health of many athletes and other students. The flex line was originally set up in part for vegetarian students, but it could also have more animal protein to accommodate students who are health conscious but have no dietary restrictions. I believe that having more healthy animal proteins would also encourage students to eat better and take their nutrition more seriously.
Based on various studies, the most efficient way to get protein is through animal protein products. This is because lean animal protein is a complete protein, which means that it has all nine of the essential amino acids. On the other hand, plant protein sources are not always complete proteins.
Protein helps you grow but it also has other lesser-known health benefits. An article from Mental Health Connecticut says that consuming more protein daily helps you eat less sugar. Added protein to the diets of Altamont students would be even more beneficial in today’s world where fried and processed foods make up too much of our diets.
Another benefit of protein consumption is the fact that protein has a direct connection to the production of neurotransmitters. These are the chemicals which allow brain cells to communicate with each other. In short, protein is a key substance for a healthy body and a healthy brain. With more animal protein in the flex line, The Altamont School would be a step closer to ensuring that its students are receiving the protein necessary to be healthy.
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