Proteins in your diet
For the proper functioning of your body, you need to eat and drink healthily. And for that, you need to eat nutrient-rich foods that have vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbs, and healthy fats in them. Protein is one of the major macro-nutrients that you need in your daily diet.
Let us tell you something interesting, protein is the only chemical substance found in every cell of the body. That’s why, without protein, your muscles, bones, skin, and everything get weaker.
What are proteins? What do they do? How much protein is required by the body to stay healthy?
Read on to find out more about the role proteins play in your diet……
What are Proteins? Proteins are molecules made of one or more long chains of amino acids joined by peptide bonds. The human body has a set of 20 amino acids that form proteins. Because you cannot store amino acids, your bodies either produce them or you get them from your food. The essential amino acids (9)- histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine, must be obtained from food. The non-essential amino acids (11) are produced by your body.
Functions of Proteins. The main functions of Proteins are:
- Repair & Maintenance: Your body is made up of cells, tissues, and bones. These parts need to be repaired when they get damaged due to regular wear and tear. And protein helps with these repairs.
- Build & Maintain: Proteins are important building blocks of bones, the immune system, muscles, skin, and cartilage. Parts like hair and nails are also made up of protein. So, you need a regular supply of proteins to build healthy bones, muscles, and much more.
- Biochemical Reactions: Proteins work as catalysts in many chemical reactions that happen in your body. For example, Enzymes (made up of proteins) work in many important body functions like metabolism, digestion, energy production, and muscle contraction.
- Nutrient supply & Oxygenation: Red blood cells contain the protein ‘hemoglobin’ that helps to carry oxygen and nutrients throughout the body.
- Regulate: Proteins regulate the hormones and their signals in your body.
Dietary Sources of Protein
- Plant proteins: Lentils, chickpeas, peanuts, almonds, spirulina, quinoa, chia seeds, hemp seeds, beans, legumes, soy, whole grains potatoes, protein-rich vegetables, flax seeds, etc.
- Animal proteins: beef, lamb, veal, pork, meat, turkey, fish, prawns, crab, lobster, clams, milk, dairy products, cheese, mussels, etc.
Animal proteins contain all the essential amino acids and are sometimes referred to as ‘complete’ proteins (or ideal or high-quality proteins). Whereas plant proteins are considered ‘incomplete’ (because they lack at least one of the essential amino acids). To ensure an adequate mix of essential amino acids, people following a strict vegetarian or vegan diet must choose a variety of protein sources from a combination of plant foods every day.
How much protein do you need? The National Academy of Medicine (NAM) recommends that for every kilogram of body weight, you should take 0.8 grams of protein per day which is the minimum protein requirement for adults. So, anywhere from 10 to 35% of your calorie intake should have protein in it. For example, if you take around 2000 calories every day, 200-700 calories should come from protein, which means 50-175 grams of protein every day is required for your body.
Disadvantages of a high protein diet. Although protein has many benefits, too much protein in your diet has many downsides too:
- Weight Gain
- High chances of cancer
- Heart disease
- Bad Breath
- Calcium loss from your teeth and bones
That’s why protein intake should be in limits as much as required by the body.
Protein deficiency diseases. Even though protein is important for your body many people worldwide have protein deficiency due to malnutrition and a shortage of nutritious food. This happens mostly in undeveloped or developing countries. This deficiency can lead to many health-related problems or diseases including:
- Decreased immunity
- Weak heart and respiratory system
- Death (in severe cases)
Protein is a particularly important macronutrient that you should include in your diet, to keep your body fit and healthy, and free from any malnutrition.
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