Proteins are commonly referred to as our building blocks of life, and with
good reason. Without them, we would not be able to stand since protein
makes up our bodily tissue. Nor could we pass on our genetic makeup to
the next generation as our chromosomes have a protein constituent.
However, there are risks from the consumption of excess to the body. Extra
protein is not used efficiently by the body and may impose a metabolic
burden on the bones, kidneys, and liver. Cue the concept of the delicately
put together protein pot, to provide a balance of high-quality proteins
alongside vegetables which can deliver our needs.
By consuming proteins from meats, fish, eggs, cheese or beans, the body is
provided with the constituents of 22 amino acids. Enzymes known as
proteases break down the food proteins into the 9 essential amino acids.
These are so named ‘essential’ as they cannot be synthesized by the body,
they must be ingested as part of the diet. Animal proteins deliver all the
amino acids whereas quinoa and soya beans are the only purely plant-based
food that contain all the essential amino acids. Unlike other parts of our
diet, protein cannot be stored, instead, it is quickly used up during
metabolism. It transpires however that it is not a case of eating protein
all day or add more protein to your diet but rather to include less
protein from better quality food sources.
Protein for better health
Tryptophan, one of the essential amino acids is a key protein for aiding
the quality of our sleep, the ability for our body to rest and for our
muscles to repair is found in high levels in chicken and turkey, what
better excuse than to start up the barbecue. Lipoproteins are responsible
for carrying cholesterol in the blood, without adequate transport, there
is a greater risk of heart disease. Proteins combine with sterols in the
body to form hormones. These regulate our vital bodily functions. They are
the transport system of our red blood cells which deliver oxygen around
the capillary system.
The right proteins
Where you get your dietary protein from makes all the difference. While
high in protein, steaks made from beef in a restaurant are often larger in
size than the body requires and carry with them a large proportion of
saturated fat. Eggs are seen as a valuable source, take note that the
cholesterol they contain does not, in turn, raise your cholesterol. In
addition, the humble egg remains the least expensive source of
high-quality protein, followed closely by milk and chicken breast, Protein
supplements are increasingly popular especially since post-workout muscle
recovery and development are dependent on protein but studies have found
that a healthy diet alone is able to provide those needs.
A well balanced healthy diet will draw upon all the food groups, it
doesn’t have to be complicated, it merely needs to contain the nutrients
to be able to function properly. One of the most important things you can
do for yourself is to look after your body by providing it with the
adequate nutrients for good health.