Welcome or Welcome back!
I apologize for another late post. It has been a very busy week for me! This week we will be discussing the importance of proteins in the diet.
Proteins are incredibly important for the human body because they help the body do what it does best. Carbohydrates provide the energy for proteins to do their job.
So before we get down to the nitty-gritty of proteins, let’s start with the basics and go back to biology for a little bit. Amino acids are the building blocks for protein. There are 20 amino acids and when put together into chains with 500 to 900 amino acids, they are folded to determine their function in the human body.
There are 9 essential amino acids which you can only obtain through your diet. The essential amino acids are phenylalanine, valine, threonine, tryptophan, isoleucine, methionine, histidine, arginine, leucine, and lysine. The body creates the other 11 non-essential amino acids through the consumption of essential amino acids. So, if you buy/use protein powders, look at the nutrition labels. Make sure you are getting all essential nine amino acids and not paying for something that your body already makes.
Some protein sources that have all nine essential amino acids include the typical meat, fish, and poultry. Soy and quinoa also have all 9, but they do not have that many grams of protein. This brings the idea of complementary proteins into the picture. Foods like your WHOLE grains, legumes, vegetables, and nuts and seeds are missing an essential amino acid; however, when put together, you can get all nine essential amino acids. Some examples include beans and rice as well as peanut butter and whole grain bread. Funny how cultures figured that out!
Not having enough protein can be detrimental to the human body. I mentioned in my first blog that the immune system is primarily made of up of proteins. Protein deficiencies also weaken your immune system because protein is key for your body. It helps build up your muscles which burn more energy than fat does. This causes your metabolism to quicken because it is using more energy to function. Proteins also help many of the functions in your body work. Enzymes are a type of protein and they lower the amount of energy needed for your body’s functions to work. Enzymes make your life easier and allow you to do the things you want to do rather than waiting for some process to happen inside your body. Proteins are the reason you don’t bleed out if you cut yourself and proteins are what comprise your skin and your muscles.
Now, this doesn’t mean only eat protein or go and eat loads of protein. Too much protein has some consequences as well. For people with compromised kidneys, too much protein can cause severe damage to them. Too much protein in the body forces the body to start converting it to fat. More specifically visceral fat, fat in between the organs that contributes to the causes of diabetes. It starts to tell the cells around then to start resisting insulin. Visceral fat’s prime hangout spot is around the stomach area which is the area most people try to eliminate.
Proteins are also the factors behind allergies and gluten. Gluten is actually a protein found in grains and it gives bread its spongy texture/appearance. So, if you have ever had gluten free bread, it is usually crumbly and gross because gluten is what makes bread look good. If it looks like regular bread, then there some massively processed foods in it. So, if you have allergies as I do. You are not actually allergic to the food; you are allergic to the proteins in the food.
The U.S. big 8 allergens are milk, soy, fish, shellfish, peanuts, nuts, eggs, and wheat. The U.S. requires companies and restaurants to post these on their products. There have been numerous studies taking place on the causes of allergies and their severity due to the huge influx of people especially in the United States that have them. Some of the things that scientists are finding that Americans are too clean in the present day. Instead of giving the toddler the pacifier that just dropped on the ground. Parents today clean the pacifier and then give it to their kids. By doing this, the child is unable to build up an immune system. This causes their body to have bad reactions and get sick more often as they grow older. So sometimes, it pays to be gross!
Studies have also found the people who grew up in households without pets were more susceptible to developing allergies compared to those who grew up around pets. Unless, of course, they are the cause of the allergy.
Proteins are the reasons behind the taste of aspartame which is an artificial sweetener, the astringency of tea, the taste of umami which is like the savory taste in meat, and they sometimes provide bitter tastes as well.
Now the amount of protein someone needs all depends on the individual and their lifestyle. Do you exercise a lot? What kind of exercise do you do? Do you walk every day? or are you training for a sport? or are you an Olympic Athlete? For the most part, protein should range between 10 and 35% of your daily intake depending on your activity level.
That’s all for today! See you next week!