I have talked about the importance of fats, and I have mentioned protein, but let's dive a littler deeper in the word protein. Not all protein is made the same. Protein is a broad word used to describe any compound that can be broken down into amino acids, or amino acids themselves. To function properly, the body requires 20 different amino acids, that we know of. Of those 9 are essential, meaning we have to consume them via our diet. The others our body CAN synthesis from other nutrients, but only if we have those nutrients in our diets and there conditions and diets are right. I want to break down each of the 20 different amino acids today….bare with me.
Why do we need protein?
Amino Acids are the building blocks of our body. Every aspect of our body requires amino acids to function. They are required for the growth of muscles, skin, hair, nails, and hormones. Protein is even more important for children and athletes, who are building new muscles and repairing injuries regularly. Protein doesn't work alone, though. Several other nutrients are required to utilize protein in the body: fats, b vitamins, and zinc are the most important.
For a normal adult, protein should consume about 1/4-1/2 of the dietary intake, and should be balanced with vitamin rich fruits, vegetables, and grains, as well as fats to aid in their utilization. Growing children need even more. 1/2 of their diet should be a variety of protein balanced with vitamins, minerals, fats and good carbohydrates.
Food Sources of Protein
Many foods contain protein. We often think of MEAT as the main source of protein, and it kind of is. But, the options are vast and it can add up if you are combining a variety of foods together.
Yes, plants have protein. This included some vegetables, legumes, and grains.
The 20 Amino Acids
Alright, I wanted to do a snippet on each amino acid, what foods you get them in and what they do in the body.
Essential Amino Acids: Proteins that must be consumed in our diet
Conditional Amino Acids: These amino acids can be synthesized in body under specific conditions and come from the diet.
Dispensable Amino Acids: If we are healthy, these amino acids are completely supplied by our own bodies. BUT, if our bodies are weak or we are not eating a healthy diet, these will not be synthesized.