Proteins are widely recognized as one of the most important nutrients for human health. They are the building blocks that ensure our cells grow, repair, and function optimally.
But what exactly are proteins, and why are they so crucial?
● Proteins are made of amino acids, with 20 different types.
● They perform functions like fighting infections and transmitting signals.
● Recommended protein intake is about 30% of daily calories.
● Protein sources include both plant-based and animal-derived foods.
● High-protein diets can aid weight loss but require careful sourcing.
● Always consult professionals before starting a high-protein diet.
They are large molecules that play a big role in various bodily functions. They are the workhorses within our cells, ensuring our organs and tissues operate efficiently. For most of us, a regular diet provides an adequate protein intake.
Still, it becomes even more important to ensure sufficient protein consumption during specific life phases or conditions—like childhood, adolescence, illness, post-surgery, pregnancy, or breastfeeding.
Additionally, without adequate carbohydrates, our body turns to proteins for energy. A severe protein deficiency can harm all organs, including the brain, immune system, and gut.
The Building Blocks: Amino Acids
Proteins are composed of amino acids, which are their fundamental building blocks. Twenty different amino acids arrange themselves in various sequences to form diverse proteins. These proteins, based on their structure and sequence, perform a myriad of functions:
● Antibodies: Combat infections from bacteria and viruses.
● Enzymes: Facilitate chemical reactions within cells and aid in molecule formation.
● Messengers: Transmit signals throughout the body, like hormones.
● Structural Proteins: Provide structure and support to cells.
● Transport Proteins: Carry atoms and molecules throughout the body.
Optimal Protein Intake
Experts recommend that protein constitutes around 30% of our daily caloric intake. For someone consuming 2,000 calories daily, this translates to about 150 grams of protein.
Adjustments can be made based on individual caloric consumption by multiplying the calorie count by 0.075.
Proteins can be derived from a plethora of foods, both plant-based and animal-derived:
1. Plant-based Proteins: Legumes, including beans, chickpeas, lentils, and soybeans, are protein-rich and offer additional health benefits. Tofu, another high-protein source, serves as an excellent meat substitute.
3. Animal-based Proteins: Fish and seafood, consumed 2-3 times weekly, benefit the heart. Eggs are protein powerhouses packed with vitamins and minerals, though those with specific health conditions should monitor their intake. Poultry, like chicken and turkey, can be integrated into a balanced diet. While red meat is protein-rich, its consumption should be moderated due to potential health risks. Dairy products, including milk, cheese, and yogurt, are protein sources and provide essential calcium.
Processed meats, although protein-rich, are best limited or avoided due to their high fat, salt content, and additives.
While some individuals, especially athletes, might go for high-protein diets supplemented with protein shakes, most of us already meet our protein needs through our regular diet. It’s important to note that excess protein cannot be stored and is excreted.
Exercise remains the most effective strategy for those aiming for muscle growth, with carbohydrates being the primary fuel. High-protein diets can aid weight loss by enhancing satiety, boosting metabolism, and reducing muscle loss.
But getting proteins from whole foods and avoiding processed meats is very important. Eliminating a food group, like carbohydrates, isn’t advised.
Consult a healthcare professional or dietitian if you’re considering a high-protein diet.
Proteins are unskippable for our body’s growth and repair. They are important for the overall functioning of our bodies, and while they are easily available in different forms of food, it’s important to make the right choices for good health.
For more information, visit Canadian Pharmacy.