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How Proteins Could change One's Life...

Updated on July 11, 2019

Introduction To Proteins...

  • Protein is crucial to good health.

    In fact, the name comes from the Greek word proteos, meaning “primary” or “first place.”

    Protein is one of the most important substances in your body. Your muscles, hair, eyes, organs, and many hormones and enzymes are primarily made out of protein. It also helps to repair and maintain your body tissues. However, not all protein is created equal, and there are things you can do to help your body use it more efficiently.

    Protein is a very large nutrient that’s made up of smaller substances called amino acids. There are 20 amino acids, but your body can only make 9 of them. The other 11 are called essential amino acids, and you can only get them through your diet.

    High-quality protein sources, such as meat, fish, eggs, and dairy products, contain all nine of the essential amino acids. These are also called whole proteins or complete proteins.

    Other protein sources, such as nuts, beans, and seeds, only contain some essential amino acids. However, you can combine some of these protein sources, such as rice and beans, to create a complete protein that contains all nine essential amino acids.

Functions Of Proteins...

Here are 9 important functions of protein in your body.

1. Growth and Maintenance.

Your body needs protein for growth and maintenance of tissues.

Yet, your body’s proteins are in a constant state of turnover.

Under normal circumstances, your body breaks down the same amount of protein that it uses to build and repair tissues. Other times, it breaks down more protein than it can create, thus increasing your body’s needs.

This typically happens in periods of illness, during pregnancy and while breastfeeding (1 Trusted Source, 2 Trusted Source, 3 Trusted Source).

People recovering from an injury or surgery, older adults and athletes require more protein as well (4 Trusted Source, 5 Trusted Source, 6 Trusted Source). 2. Causes Biochemical Reactions.

Enzymes are proteins that aid the thousands of biochemical reactions that take place within and outside of your cells (7 Trusted Source).

The structure of enzymes allows them to combine with other molecules inside the cell called substrates, which catalyze reactions that are essential to your metabolism (8 Trusted Source).

Enzymes may also function outside the cell, such as digestive enzymes like lactase and sucrase, which help digest sugar.

Some enzymes require other molecules, such as vitamins or minerals, for a reaction to take place.

Bodily functions that depend on enzymes include (9 Trusted Source):

  • Digestion
  • Energy production
  • Blood clotting
  • Muscle contraction

Lack or improper function of these enzymes can result in disease (10 Trusted Source).

3. Acts as a Messenger.

Some proteins are hormones, which are chemical messengers that aid communication between your cells, tissues and organs.

They’re made and secreted by endocrine tissues or glands and then transported in your blood to their target tissues or organs where they bind to protein receptors on the cell surface.

Hormones can be grouped into three main categories (11 Trusted Source):

  • Protein and peptides: These are made from chains of amino acids, ranging from a few to several hundred.
  • Steroids: These are made from the fat cholesterol. The sex hormones, testosterone and estrogen, are steroid-based.
  • Amines: These are made from the individual amino acids tryptophan or tyrosine, which help make hormones related to sleep and metabolism.

Protein and polypeptides make up most of your body’s hormones.

Some examples include (12 Trusted Source):

  • Insulin: Signals the uptake of glucose or sugar into the cell.
  • Glucagon: Signals the breakdown of stored glucose in the liver.
  • hGH (human growth hormone): Stimulates the growth of various tissues, including bone.
  • ADH (antidiuretic hormone): Signals the kidneys to reabsorb water.
  • ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone): Stimulates the release of cortisol, a key factor in metabolism. 4. Provides Structure.

Some proteins are fibrous and provide cells and tissues with stiffness and rigidity.

These proteins include keratin, collagen and elastin, which help form the connective framework of certain structures in your body (13 Trusted Source).

Keratin is a structural protein that is found in your skin, hair and nails.

Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body and is the structural protein of your bones, tendons, ligaments and skin (14 Trusted Source).

Elastin is several hundred times more flexible than collagen. Its high elasticity allows many tissues in your body to return to their original shape after stretching or contracting, such as your uterus, lungs and arteries (15 Trusted Source). 5. Maintains Proper pH.

Protein plays a vital role in regulating the concentrations of acids and bases in your blood and other bodily fluids (16 Trusted Source, 17 Trusted Source).

The balance between acids and bases is measured using the pH scale. It ranges from 0 to 14, with 0 being the most acidic, 7 neutral and 14 the most alkaline.

Examples of the pH value of common substances include (18):

  • pH 2: Stomach acid
  • pH 4: Tomato juice
  • pH 5: Black coffee
  • pH 7.4: Human blood
  • pH 10: Milk of magnesia
  • pH 12: Soapy water

A variety of buffering systems allows your bodily fluids to maintain normal pH ranges.

A constant pH is necessary, as even a slight change in pH can be harmful or potentially deadly (19 Trusted Source, 20 Trusted Source).

One way your body regulates pH is with proteins. An example is hemoglobin, a protein that makes up red blood cells.

Hemoglobin binds small amounts of acid, helping to maintain the normal pH value of your blood.

The other buffer systems in your body include phosphate and bicarbonate.

6. Balances Fluids.

Proteins regulate body processes to maintain fluid balance.

Albumin and globulin are proteins in your blood that help maintain your body’s fluid balance by attracting and retaining water (21 Trusted Source, 22 Trusted Source).

If you don’t eat enough protein, your levels of albumin and globulin eventually decrease.

Consequently, these proteins can no longer keep blood in your blood vessels, and the fluid is forced into the spaces between your cells.

As the fluid continues to build up in the spaces between your cells, swelling or edema occurs, particularly in the stomach region (23 Trusted Source).

This is a form of severe protein malnutrition called kwashiorkor that develops when a person is consuming enough calories but does not consume enough protein (24 Trusted Source).

Kwashiorkor is rare in developed regions of the world and occurs more often in areas of starvation.

7. Bolsters Immune Health.

Proteins help form immunoglobulins, or antibodies, to fight infection (25 Trusted Source, 26 Trusted Source).

Antibodies are proteins in your blood that help protect your body from harmful invaders like bacteria and viruses.

When these foreign invaders enter your cells, your body produces antibodies that tag them for elimination (27 Trusted Source).

Without these antibodies, bacteria and viruses would be free to multiply and overwhelm your body with the disease they cause.

Once your body has produced antibodies against a particular bacteria or virus, your cells never forget how to make them.

This allows the antibodies to respond quickly the next time a particular disease agent invades your body (28 Trusted Source).

As a result, your body develops immunity against the diseases to which it is exposed (29 Trusted Source).

8. Transports and Stores Nutrients.

Transport proteins carry substances throughout your bloodstream — into cells, out of cells or within cells.

The substances transported by these proteins include nutrients like vitamins or minerals, blood sugar, cholesterol and oxygen (30 Trusted Source, 31 Trusted Source, 32 Trusted Source).

For example, hemoglobin is a protein that carries oxygen from your lungs to body tissues. Glucose transporters (GLUT) move glucose to your cells, while lipoproteins transport cholesterol and other fats in your blood.

Protein transporters are specific, meaning they will only bind to specific substances. In other words, a protein transporter that moves glucose will not move cholesterol (33 Trusted Source, 34 Trusted Source).

Proteins also have storage roles. Ferritin is a storage protein that stores iron (35 Trusted Source).

Another storage protein is casein, which is the principal protein in milk that helps babies grow. 9. Provides Energy.

Proteins can supply your body with energy.

Protein contains four calories per gram, the same amount of energy that carbs provide. Fats supply the most energy, at nine calories per gram.

However, the last thing your body wants to use for energy is protein since this valuable nutrient is widely used throughout your body.

Carbs and fats are much better suited for providing energy, as your body maintains reserves for use as fuel. Moreover, they’re metabolized more efficiently compared to protein (36 Trusted Source).

In fact, protein supplies your body with very little of its energy needs under normal circumstances.

However, in a state of fasting (18–48 hours of no food intake), your body breaks down skeletal muscle so that the amino acids can supply you with energy (37 Trusted Source, 38 Trusted Source).

Your body also uses amino acids from broken-down skeletal muscle if carbohydrate storage is low. This can occur after exhaustive exercise or if you don’t consume enough calories in general (39 Trusted Source). 10.The Bottom Line.

Protein has many roles in your body.

It helps repair and build your body’s tissues, allows metabolic reactions to take place and coordinates bodily functions.

In addition to providing your body with a structural framework, proteins also maintain proper pH and fluid balance.

Finally, they keep your immune system strong, transport and store nutrients and can act as an energy source, if needed.

Collectively, these functions make protein one of the most important nutrients for your health. (Marukh Rajpoot :2019).

How Is Protein Digested?

The role of enzymes.

Protein digestion begins when you first start chewing. There are two enzymes in your saliva called amylase and lipase. They mostly break down carbohydrates and fats.

Once a protein source reaches your stomach, hydrochloric acid and enzymes called proteases break it down into smaller chains of amino acids. Amino acids are joined together by peptides, which are broken by proteases.

From your stomach, these smaller chains of amino acids move into your small intestine. As this happens, your pancreas releases enzymes and a bicarbonate buffer that reduces the acidity of digested food. This reduction allows more enzymes to work on further breaking down amino acid chains into individual amino acids.

Some common enzymes involved in this phase include:

  • trypsin
  • chymotrypsin
  • carboxypeptidase

How is protein absorbed?

Protein absorption also happens in your small intestine, which contains microvilli. These are small, finger-like structures that increase the absorptive surface area of your small intestine. This allows for maximum absorption of amino acids and other nutrients.

Once they’ve been absorbed, amino acids are released into your bloodstream, which takes them to cells in other parts of your body so they can start repairing tissue and building muscle.

How can I absorb more protein?

The first step in increasing your protein absorption is choosing whole proteins that contain all nine essential amino acids. These include:

  • meat
  • fish
  • eggs
  • dairy products

If you’re a vegetarian, you can make a complete protein with the following combinations:

Protein combination Examples: grains and legumes rice with lentils or pasta salad with kidney beans ,grains and eggs, egg-salad sandwich on whole grain bread ,legumes with seeds ,hummus, which contains chickpeas and sesame ,seed paste ,grains and dairy, grilled cheese on whole wheat bread.

It was previously believed that vegetarian proteins must be consumed at the same meal in order for the body to form complete proteins. Now it’s known that the body can pool proteins from various foods throughout the day to form complete proteins when needed. So for vegetarians, variety is key.

Habits to follow

In addition to choosing the right protein sources, you can also adopt certain habits to help get the most out the food you eat. These include:

  • eating regularly throughout the day
  • thoroughly chewing your food
  • reducing stress
  • avoiding intense exercise right after a meal
  • limiting your alcohol consumption
  • managing any underlying condition that affects digestion, such as diabetes or liver disease
  • taking probiotics, such as B. coagulans 30, which can improve protein absorption
  • eating protein throughout the day, rather than all at once
  • following a regular exercise routine. ( Marukh Rajpoot :2019).

The Effects OF Proteins Deficiency...

Understanding Protein and Amino Acids

Protein is a macronutrient that works within every cell of your body. It is required for muscle development and regulating body tissues and organs. It’s made from a chain of amino acids considered the building blocks of protein. There are 20 total amino acids comprised of nine essential amino acids and 11 non-essential amino acids.

According to Caroline Passerrello, MS, RDN, LDN, Spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, there are nine essential amino acids that we must consume in order to meet protein requirements because we cannot make them within the body. Protein in muscles and body tissue is in constant turnover, therefore, protein is required daily to maintain a steady state in the body.

Low Dietary Protein and Requirements

According to a study published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, approximately one billion people worldwide have inadequate protein intake. This would mean we are eating less protein than your body needs, according to nutrition expert Caroline Passerrello. Since your body requires a sufficient amount of protein, not consuming enough can potentially lead to poor health.

The recommendation is approximately 10-20 percent of your total calories come from protein or about .8-1g of protein per kg of body weight each day. For example, a person weighing 150 pounds who needs 1800 calories per day would intake 55-68 grams of protein daily to meet a 15 percent daily protein requirement, says Passerrello.

Symptoms of Being Protein Deficient

Protein deficiency can occur when you’re not eating enough protein to maintain normal body function. Approximately one-third of adults over age 50 are failing to meet the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for protein intake according to research. Individuals following a restrictive diet can also be at risk of becoming protein deficient. Some athletes in weight class sports like boxing, wrestling, and bodybuilding may use self-starvation methods to lean up leaving them nutrient deficient.

When protein is lacking in your diet, especially for long periods of time, it can cause you to be deficient and potentially lead to adverse effects. Caroline Passerrello, MS, RDN, LDN, indicates inadequate protein can lead to the following:

  • Muscle wasting – protein is essential for muscle growth, strength, and repair. Insufficient protein in your diet reduces lean body mass, muscle strength, and function. Not consuming enough protein can also cause muscle cramping, weakness, and soreness. Your body will take protein from muscle tissue and use it as energy to support other vital body functions when protein is low. This eventually causes muscle wasting or atrophy as a direct result of chronic, low dietary protein.
  • Poor wound healing – wound healing is dependent on good nutrition, including protein intake. Protein deficiency has shown to contribute to low wound healing rates and reduced collagen formation, according to research. Without adequate protein, the wound healing process is said to be greatly compromised.
  • Infections – your immune system functions best with adequate protein intake. Protein deficiency is indicated to impair your immune system. Without a healthy immune system, your risk of infection is increased and the ability to fight off infection is decreased.

Diet Full Of Proteins...

How Can I Include More Protein?

In order to maintain a healthy body, adequate protein intake is essential. This doesn’t mean more is better, nor does it mean eating extra protein can only build muscle, not body fat, according to Dr. Katz.

What is recommended is eating enough protein to support your body cells, structure, and function. This requirement will be different for each person.

There are instances where low dietary protein may be a concern. This is especially true for some elderly and for those restricting their diet too much. In these instances, protein intake is easily increased and a simple process.

Protein is included in a wide variety of animal and plant foods. Choosing nutritious protein sources is also recommended for optimal health and fitness. Nutrition expert, Caroline Passerrello recommends the following:

  • Aim for meals to have approximately 20 grams and snacks to have about 10 grams of protein (3 ounces of cooked chicken breast has about 21 grams of protein).
  • Eat higher protein grains like quinoa.
  • Select bean-based noodles instead of wheat-based pasta.

Can I Get Enough Protein Eating a Plant-Based Diet?

Eating plant-based is a popular trend. Several studies have indicated plant-based diets provide numerous health benefits. One of the most common myths of vegetarian or plant-based eating is that you’re unable to get enough protein in your diet. Another myth claims you have to pair plant proteins to get all the amino acids to make a complete protein. Current research indicates you can get enough protein when eating a variety of plant foods over the course of the day and combining is not necessary.

According to the American Dietetic Association (ADA), plant-based or vegetarian diets can be nutritionally sound and adequate for all individuals, including athletes. The following is a great list of plant-based protein sources to include in your diet:

  • Lentils
  • Quinoa
  • Tofu
  • Black beans
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Almonds
  • Oats

Other Protein Selection Tips

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), protein intake depends on age, gender, and physical activity level. They also suggest that most Americans eat enough protein but need to make leaner and more varied selections of these foods.

The following protein selection tips from the USDA will be helpful:

  • Choose lean or low-fat meat and poultry.
  • Select seafood high in omega 3 fatty acids including salmon, trout, sardines, and anchovies.
  • Avoid fresh chicken, turkey, and pork that have been enhanced with a salt-containing solution.
  • Choose unsalted nuts and seeds to keep sodium intake low.

(In general, 1 ounce of meat, poultry or fish, ¼ cup cooked beans, 1 egg, 1 tablespoon of peanut butter, or ½ ounce of nuts or seeds can be considered as 1 ounce-equivalent from the Protein Foods Group).

Top 11 Protein Foods to Include in Your Diet

1. Grass-Fed Beef: 3 ounces: 22 grams.

Grass-fed beef is one of the best high-protein foods that you can find. Not only does it supply almost 50 percent of your recommended daily value of protein, but it’s also a rich source of vitamins A and E and powerful antioxidants. Grass-fed beef nutrition has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and improve blood sugar levels due to its protein and healthy fat content.

2. Organic Chicken: 3 ounces: 21 grams.

One chicken breast supplies over 30 percent of your recommended daily value for protein, making it an excellent high-protein food option that can easily be added to healthy lunch and dinner recipes. Chicken is also a source of B vitamins, like niacin and vitamin B6, which are important for lowering your risk of cardiovascular disease, treating diabetes, supporting the health of your brain and lowering LDL cholesterol levels. Choose organic chicken to ensure that the chicken was fed organic food grown with no pesticides, received no antibiotics and was given access to the outdoors. 3. Bone Broth: 1 serving (¼ cup): 20 grams.

Protein powder made from bone broth is packed with protein and powerful amino acids that support gut integrity and detoxification. It also contains beneficial minerals, including potassium, calcium, selenium and magnesium. With just one serving of this protein powder, you ingest the healing benefits of bone broth like improving joint health, reducing cellulite, boosting your immune system and treating leaky gut.

4. Lentils: 1 cup: 18 grams.

Eating lentils is a great way for vegetarians and vegans to get enough protein in their diets. A cup of lentils checks a lot of boxes off the nutrient list, including protein, fiber, folate, manganese, iron, phosphorus, potassium and B vitamins, just to name a few. The protein in lentils helps boost cardiovascular health, aid digestion, regulate blood sugar levels, and alkalize the body and balance its pH level. (4)

5. Wild-Caught Salmon (and other wild fish): 3 ounces: 17 grams.

Wild-caught salmon is one of the healthiest foods around because it’s high in protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and a slew a vitamins and minerals — including vitamin B12 (with well over 100 percent of your daily value from a 3 ounce piece); vitamin D; selenium; vitamins B3, B6 and B5; and potassium. The slew of healthy fats make it a perfect protein for the keto diet meal plan.

Meanwhile, the benefits of salmon nutrition promote the health of your entire body, including your brain, bones, heart, eyes, skin and cells. (5)

6. Black Beans (and other beans): 1 cup: 15 grams.

Black beans are another high-protein food that can be consumed by people following a vegetarian or vegan diet. Black beans are an excellent source of both protein and fiber, which can help to make you feel full and satisfied after eating, while also controlling your blood sugar levels so you don’t experience blood sugar highs and lows. The protein and fiber duo found in black beans also helps the body absorb nutrients and release acids into the bloodstream, which makes you feel energized and helps to cleanse your digestive tract. (6)

7. Natto: ½ cup: 15 grams.

Natto is a fermented food that’s made by soaking whole soybeans, steaming them and adding healthy bacteria into the mixture. Natto offers an array of health benefits due to its protein, manganese, iron, copper, magnesium, vitamin K and vitamin C (just to name a few) content. The smell and texture of natto take some getting used to, but I suggest that you give it a try in order to take advantage of this nutrient-dense, probiotic, high-protein food. (7)

8. Eggs: 1 large free-range egg: 7 grams.

Did you know that eggs have a complete amino acid profile? That means eggs contain all nine of the essential amino acids that we need to get from our food. Add eggs to your diet to boost your heart health, aid in weight loss, prevent metabolic syndrome and boost skin health. Not to mention, eggs are rich in biotin, which helps improve protein absorption. Vitamin B6 also plays an important role in protein absorption as it helps enzymes break down the protein and carries the disassembled amino acids to the blood.

But keep in mind, to get the full health benefits of eggs, stick to organic, free-range eggs, which guarantee the hens are allowed to roam, wander, perch and have a good quality of life. Plus, free-range eggs, when compared to eggs from caged hens, contain more vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids and less cholesterol. (8)

9. Yogurt or Kefir: 6 ounces: 6–9 grams.

Yogurt and kefir (a cultured dairy product) are balanced sources of protein, fats, carbs, vitamins and minerals, and they’re full of beneficial probiotics that help to improve the microflora in your gut, thereby supporting your digestion and the absorption of nutrients. Adding this high-protein food to your diet can boost your immune system, support weight loss and regulate your mood. (9) This is why probiotic yogurt is considered a superfood. While Greek yogurt is a common go-to, I personally recommend yogurt made from goat or sheep milk.

10. Goat Cheese (and other raw cheeses): 1 ounce: 7 grams

Goat cheese comes from beneficial goat milk, which contains A2 casein protein (instead of A1 casein that’s found in cow’s milk) and is therefore easier to digest. Cheeses like goat cheese and feta cheese provide a good amount of protein per serving, and they help promote nutrient absorption and supply medium-chain fatty acids that boost energy levels and help lower cholesterol. (10)

11. Almonds (and other nuts): ¼ cup/23 almonds: 5 grams.

Almonds are a healthy snack that contains protein, antioxidants, unsaturated fatty acids and fiber. Almonds nutrition, including vitamins like riboflavin and minerals like magnesium, help protect your heart from cardiovascular disease, reduce inflammation, support cognitive function, improve the health of your skin and control blood sugar levels. (11) If you don’t want to reach for a handful of almonds or other nuts, nut spreads can be another high-protein option. I recommend having almond or cashew butter and skipping the popular peanut butter.

Food recommendation About Proteins...

Importance Of Proteins...

Protein is a vital nutrient for almost every part of your body. It’s digested in your mouth, stomach, and small intestine before it’s released into your bloodstream as individual amino acids.

You can maximize the nutrients you get from protein sources by eating complete proteins and adopting certain habits, such as chewing thoroughly before swallowing. If you’re ready for more protein now, add these high-protein foods to your diet.


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