Everything you need to know about protein
by Aurora Geib
(NaturalNews) For certain people, getting protein is serious business. Bodybuilders wanting that perfect Arnold Schwarzenegger build, vegetarians looking for that perfect source of protein or health buffs searching for the best kind of protein to ensure their health.
Chemically speaking, a protein is composed of amino acids covalently bonded through peptide bonds to form a chain. It has a number of functions within and out of the cells such as structural roles, acting as catalyst, transporting ferry ions and molecules across membranes and hormones.
Nutritionally, protein is a macronutrient which assists in building up and repairing muscles and bones. It is the building block of life and the body needs it to repair and maintain itself. Every cell in the body including body fluids contains protein with the exception of the bile and urine. Human growth and development especially during pregnancy require protein to be successful.
ScienceDaily.com, an online resource of new scientific discoveries, recently revealed that it is protein and not sugar that keeps us thin and awake. Scientists from the University of Cambridge discovered that wakefulness and energy expenditures actually relied on orexin cells. These cells secrete a substance that stimulates the brain. When these cells malfunction, sleep disorders set in. Orexin cells also influence our energy levels. When scientists studied what nutrient orexin cells responded to, they discovered that proteins stimulate the orexin cells more than any other nutrient. They further discovered that while glucose blocks the action of orexin cells, amino acids, when they interfered, negated the effect of glucose.
In a 2005 study, it was settled that elevating protein intake helps reduce body weight faster than limiting carbohydrate consumption. This practically explains what we have already observed: protein-rich meals make people more alert than sugar-rich meals. (http://www.naturalnews.com/034596_metabolism_protein_sugar.html#)
What happens if we have a protein deficiency?
Seeing how important protein is, not getting enough can have deleterious effects. The following are the adverse effect of not getting enough protein:
• Protein deficiency increases susceptibility to dental carries
• Protein energy malnutrition (PEM) whose severe form is kwashiorkor, a condition characterized by degeneration of the liver, anemia with the most obvious external condition being inflammation of the skin (http://www.biog1105-1106.org/demos/105/unit6/media/kwashiorkor.pdf)
• Marasmus, a condition characterized by muscle wasting and reduced body fat levels, which increases the risk of infection
• Impaired mental health
• Organ failure
• Wasting and shrinkage of muscle tissues
How much protein do we need?
For the average adult, getting enough protein is important. For adult women, 46 grams of protein daily are recommended while men; slightly more at 56 grams per day. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gives the following recommended daily requirements for the following age groups:
• Children ages one to three should have at least 13 grams
• Children ages four to eight should have at least 19 grams
• Children ages 9 to 13 should have at least 34 grams
• Girls ages 14 to 18 should have at least 46 grams
• Boys ages to 14 to 18 should have at least 52 grams
Most people, especially in America get more than their necessary protein without any adverse effects.
Nevertheless, despite protein’s capacity to suppress appetite, taking in too much protein can contribute to calorie intake and if it happens to be more than your calorie needs, it might contribute to weight gain. Animal sources of protein contain saturated fat linked to elevated levels of bad cholesterol, increasing the risk of heart disease.
For people with certain kidney diseases, a lower protein diet is recommended to avoid straining the kidneys.
People with allergies should also be careful in taking in protein supplements especially if they are lactose intolerant. Most commercial protein powder use inferior sources of protein and fill their product with artificial sweeteners and preservatives. Moreover, products that contain egg, soy, gluten and whey are allergic and promote inflammatory reactions. (http://www.naturalnews.com/034596_metabolism_protein_sugar.html)
Sources of protein
Not all proteins are the same. Proteins that contain all the amino acids required to create new proteins are called complete proteins. Animal sources of meat are usually complete proteins. If you should choose to enjoy your protein from meat, choose the leanest proteins; those with the least amount of fat and calories. Best sources of this kind are fish, skinless chicken or turkey and eggs. If it should be red meat, choose the leanest cuts like loin and tenderloin.
Another kind of protein is incomplete protein. This type lacks one or more essential amino acids unlike complete proteins. They are usually found in fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains. This type of protein may lack one or more amino acids needed to make new protein. Vegetarians and vegans are thus encouraged to enjoy a variety of protein rich foods in order to keep the body’s system in good shape and should consider having a good serving of beans, legumes, soy foods and soy milk.
Another healthy option to consider is protein powders.
With the rise in health consciousness, protein powders have become one of the most popular supplements today. Body builders use it to gain more muscle mass, vegetarians looking for alternative sources of protein and even health buffs who want to increase their quality of life by finding potent sources of protein. Due to its ability to provide essential and branched out amino acids in a highly absorbable form, protein powders can be considered as an alternative supplement to a well-rounded, healthy diet.
Protein powders maximize the effect of workouts for athletes and bodybuilders who enjoy a drink every day after a work out to help the body begin recovery by building new tissues and muscles needed to burn the excess calories and maintain a steady weight.
Despite the number of supplements in the market, not all are quality supplements as some contain substances inconsistent with gluten free and vegan diets. The most common sources used in commercial powders include egg, soy, whey and wheat gluten. A discerning consumer should shy away from soy and gluten proteins as they are highly allergic and promote inflammatory reactions within the body.
For those who observe vegan and gluten free diets they will find that brown rice protein is an alternative to traditional protein powder.