Proteins

Protein rich foods
Protein rich foods

Scientists estimate the human body consists of more than 100,000 proteins, and every one of them has a different purpose.

Some proteins form most of the solid material in your body. They are called Structural Proteins. Keratin, for example, is a structural protein. It’s the primary protein of skin, hair, and nails. We’ve never actually spoken to the makers of Keri Lotion, but we suspect the name Keri comes from the word “keratin”.

Collagen is another structural protein, and it’s the primary protein in muscles, tendons, and connective tissue. When you see advertisements for skincare products, they often target the structural protein collagen.

Another broad classification of proteins is called Functional Proteins. Functional proteins perform specific jobs (functions) in your body; that is, they do something. For example, the hormone insulin is a functional protein that regulates blood sugar. Hormones, antibodies, and various other components of the body are all functional proteins.

As you can see, proteins are hard-working components of the human body, so it’s vital that you eat enough dietary protein to give your body the raw materials it needs to do its work. To learn about good sources of dietary protein, go here.

When digested, dietary proteins serve as the basic building blocks of your body. They also enable chemical reactions so our body can:

  • Defend against foreign microbes (microscopic living organisms)
  • Transport materials to cells
  • Regulate messages (including turning genes on and off)

It’s important to understand, however, that your body requires a specific amount of protein for its many operations. Any excess is either burned as energy or stored as fat.

Think about those huge steaks either you or the guy next to you put on your plate. Eating too much protein (which is easy to do, especially at barbeques or at family feasts) can put a strain on your liver and kidneys and may set up an inflammatory response. AND THAT'S BAD! If you overeat protein consistently, you're ultimately going to experience an inflammatory response, which is an initial warning you may be experiencing damage at the cellular level. If you keep overeating protein, that initial inflammatory response will become chronic.

Consider eating smaller portions at meals, all of which contain proteins, and having a protein snack mid-morning and mid-afternoon—especially if you feel hungry or tired during the day. Rather than that extra cup of java or a bagful of junk food, try a protein snack to help maintain energy, concentration, mood, and effective metabolism.

And here’s a tip that will help your health: CHEW! Break down those proteins in your mouth—that’s really where digestion starts. Most people would benefit from developing the simple art of chewing, the first step to healthy digestion. Many common digestive conditions can be reduced or eliminated through more conscious and diligent use of the pearly whites. Mahatma Ghandi condensed all wisdom about health into just one admonition: “Chew your drink, and drink your food.” That is, chew your food until it turns to liquid in your mouth. Chewing effectively will also help you eat mindfully, calm you down, and help you get the most out of the food you buy. Read our "CHEW" article for more information.

Freaky Fact

The B vitamins, especially B6, B9 (folic acid), and B12, are required for proper protein synthesis. Without them, your cells will produce a poison called homocysteine. High homocysteine levels put you at risk of arterial damage, strokes, and dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

Related Supplements

Take a plant-based B-complex to support protein synthesis.

Upon the advice of your healthcare provider, you may need extra vitamin B12 taken sublingually (in the form of methylcobalamine). This may be particularly important if you are a vegan.

Eat to Save Your Life BookEat to Save Your Life answers the hard nutrition questions.

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