Protein and its importance

Protein is a type of molecule found in the bodies of all organisms. They are made up of sequences of amino acids. This sequence varies resulting in different types of proteins each of which perform a specific function in the body. Proteins are an essential part of every diet because of its important role in almost every function of the body. Proteins not only make up most of the tissues of the body but they also help in the proper functioning of antibodies, enzymes, hormones etc. Protein rich foods like eggs, fish, meat, nuts etc should be included in the regular diet for good health.

Protein is a type of biological molecule which is found in every living cell. In fact, it is an essential component of all organic cells. In human beings, proteins consist of a sequence of 20 different amino acids. The sequence of these amino acids shows considerable variation. This leads to the formation of a number of different proteins. This difference in the sequence of amino acids is dictated by the nucleotide sequence of the genes. Hence, it is the genetic coding which leads to the formation of different types of proteins.

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Importance of protein in your diet

Protein is a food group that must be included in your diet though the optimum amount varies depending on a number of factors. An active adult should eat at least 60 to 80 grams of proteins per day. In general, an adult should eat two protein containing meals every day. At each meal, 2 to 5 ounces of concentrated protein is required. However, it is seen that most diets suffer from an inadequacy of protein. An average adult consumes about 40 grams of proteins per day.

The importance of protein in your body is because of the following reasons:

  1. Every cell in your body contains proteins and some cells like those of the hair and the nail are mostly made up of protein.
  2. It is essential to repair damaged tissues and build new tissues and muscles.
  3. Bones, cartilages, skin and blood are all build of proteins.
  4. It is the building block of several important enzymes, hormones and other biological fluids.

The functions of proteins

Proteins perform a number of different important functions in the body. They are the building blocks of all the cells in the human body. Depending on the sequence of the amino acids, proteins form different substances in the body. They perform the following different functions:

  • A group of proteins form antibodies in your body. These are necessary to fight any infection which might have invaded the body. Antibodies often immobilize the infectious antigens and then help the body to fight against the disease.
  • Certain proteins like actin and myosin help muscles to contract. This is necessary for movement.
  • Proteins are the main components of enzymes manufactured by the body. These are juices which help in digestion of different foods that you eat. For example, the enzyme lactase helps to break down milk products and to digest them. Pepsin is another enzyme which helps in the digestion of proteins.
  • Certain hormones of the body also consist of proteins. Hormones are the chemical messengers which stimulate a number of chain reactions in the body. Insulin is one of the important hormones formed by protein. It influences the concentration of blood sugar and therefore helps to regulate the digestion of glucose. Other hormones consisting mostly of proteins are Somatotropin and oxytocin.
  • Structural proteins form important connective tissues of the body and help to maintain its structure. Collagen and elastin provide support to ligaments and tendons while keratin provides a protective cover for the hair.
  • Certain proteins help to store amino acids like caseine from milk.
  • Certain proteins transport substances from one part of the body to another. Hemoglobin is the most important example of this type of protein. It helps to circulate oxygen throughout your body.

Hence, you can see that without protein the entire biological system of the human body would stop to function.

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Natural protein foods

Protein is an essential nutrient for all adults. It is necessary to identify the sources of natural proteins and include them in your diet for optimum results. For this, you should know which foods serve your purpose best.

The best protein rich foods that you can include in your diet are:

FOOD GROUPS PROTEIN CONTENT
Whole chicken egg 10.62 – 13.63
Cheese 7.0 – 40.6
Cow milk 3.2 – 3.3
Goat milk 4.9 – 9.8
Beef 16.91 – 40.6
Peanuts 23.68 – 28.04
Soybean 39.58
Green vegetables 0.33 – 3.11

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For the best results, experts recommend that you include eggs, fishes like tuna, mackerel, salmon etc, lean cut of beef, chicken and pork in your diet. For the vegetarians, the best sources of proteins are a number of nuts and legumes as well as whole wheat products.

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