To keep the flow of life and growth we need nutrients from the foods, we take every day. The nutrient is a substance that provides nourishment essential for the maintenance of life, growth, and reproducibility. Classification of nutrients is as follows:
Protein: Proteins are large molecule made up of smaller molecules. The smaller molecules are amino acids.
There are a total number of 20 amino acids, out of 20, our body can only make 11 from Carbohydrates, fats, and amino acids. Remaining 9 are called essential amino acids as they can not be produced by the body and must be obtained from our diet.
Why we need protein:
- Protein is one of the basic building blocks of our body:
Twenty percent of our body is protein. Muscle, hair, skin, ligaments, and tendon are made by protein. Many of our hormones, DNA, and thousands of enzymes are mainly made of protein. Each cell of the trillion is aging, dying and being replaced by new one. Our digestive tract is replaced within a week and skin is replaced by a month. So it is very important to replace the dead cells with new healthy cells. Although our body is good at recycling protein, we use up protein constantly, to continually replace it to maintain our good health.
When we eat protein our digestive system breaks it apart into amino acids. This amino acid reached the liver, liver cells absorb them, arrange, twist, and fold them into new protein according to our unique DNA plan. This way we get our own toes, nose, ears, etc.
- Protein helps to improve immunity:
Protein helps to form antibodies to fight against antigens (Foreign invaders).
- Protein helps to smooth functioning of the system in our body:
Protein helps to produce enzymes, hormones, antibodies and various other components which helps to function our system. For example, the hormone insulin is the functional protein that regulates blood sugar.
- Protein gives us a higher feeling of good health:
People who eat more protein tends to be satisfied with less food. A research was carried out by ‘Centre of diabetes and Endocrinology, Department of Medicine, University College, London’ has established that high protein intake in human includes the release of anorectic hormone “Peptide YY or PYY” which in turn leads to satiety.
Eating protein at breakfast helps to maximize brain function, facilitate weight loss, alleviate mid-afternoon slump, common for so many people, especially for the diabetic patient, insulin resistance, and other blood sugar concerns.
- Protein deficiency can trigger the following disease:
Marasmus: Young children and infants are vulnerable to consequences of severe lack of protein. This is a fatal disease causes weight loss and dehydration.
Kwashiorkor: Lack of protein from carbohydrate source like rice yams, and banana causes Kwashiorkor. Symptoms of the illness swollen stomach due to fluid retention. It also has symptoms common to Marasmus such as irritability, diarrhea, fatigue, limited growth, cognitive development and mental health.
Protein C and Protein S deficiency: One in three hundred people suffer from protein C deficiency. It may be a hereditary disease leading to blood clotting. Such deficiencies are characterized by pain, redness, swelling, and tenderness in the affected region.
Lack of protein may trigger disease like cancer, chronic kidney failure, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer, obstructive pulmonary disease, rheumatoid arthritis, weight loss, etc.
- Protein helps to get fast recovery:
People who undergo surgery can have a fast recovery if he or she can take sufficient amount of protein.
- Protein helps the student to perform better:
As per a research conducted by J. Michael Murphy, Harvard medical school, department of psychiatry, is shown that math grades for the student who regularly take breakfast with higher protein content were 40% higher. When a student arrives home from school in afternoon, they are often in their words, “striving”, consider them a protein shakes or a protein bar. The protein can help to balance blood sugar levels, which helps keep energy level up and cranky behavior down.
Protein deficiency symptoms:
Lack of protein has several signs and symptom depicted in changes in the body. In case we experience any of these signs and symptoms within us or on somebody, it is advisable to check whether it is happening due to protein deficiency or not. If this is found to be a protein deficient symptoms, it is always recommended to take a protein supplement or protein enriched foods. Some of this symptoms include:
|● Weakness and sore muscles||● Mid-afternoon slump|
|● Increased water retention||● Deep line formation around the toes and nails|
|● Flakiness, dry skin and rashes||● Stubborn wounds that do not heal|
|● Lethargy||● Constant headache|
|● Weight loss||● Insomnia|
|● Anxiety||● Moody feelings|
|● Nausea||● Blackouts|
|● Skin ulcer||● Depression|
|● Bed sores||● Skin color changes|
|● Frequent cold|
Protein amount required:
Our daily protein requirements depend on our age, size, and activity levels. ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) recommends the following protein intake:
|Adults||1.0 gm/Kg of Bodyweight/day|
|Children||1.5 gm/Kg of Bodyweight/day|
|Pregnant women / Lactating women||1.5 gm/Kg of Bodyweight/day|
|Athletes||Min. 1.5 gm/Kg of Bodyweight/day (Depend on the level of physical activity.|
People do less activity, require less protein.
How much protein we get from our food:
As per an article published in a leading newspaper “ The Hindu” (Reference link: http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/80-indian-diets-are-protein-deficient-survey/article7290278.ece) in 2015, 90% of people in Delhi are protein deficient and 80% Indians are protein deficient.
Average Indian get maximum 35 gm protein in an average day from there daily diet. Hence average 15 gm gap remain there. If this gap used to be there for long days, it may trigger some health disorder.
Source of Protein:
Out of 20, our body can manufacture 11, but remaining 9 amino acids we have to get from our diet. They are essential and helps to produce other 11.
Some food contains all essential amino acids, they are called complete protein. Quantity and quality of the protein in food items depend upon the processing of the food items. Some details of complete protein food are tabulated below:
|Meat||It includes the risk of animal fat. Too much oil and spice should not be used during processing.|
|Fish||Over frying and overcooking can harm the quality of the protein|
|Poultry / Chicken||Beware of use of antibiotics during they were grown up.|
|Milk||It should be getting from pasture-fed cow|
|Soy||Protein amount and quality depends upon the method of processing.|
Other food contains some amino acids but not all, they are incomplete protein. They include:
- Legumes such as peas, lentils, beans, etc.
- Nuts and seeds.
- Rice and other grains.
Protein at the different stage of life and for different type people:
Children grow fast and they start learning a lot of new things. Protein supports their effective growth and the process of learning.
Teenagers need a plenty of energy which they get from protein.
- Young adults:
Young adults start to take challenges in the workplace with the dream of growing or struggle hard to have a better job. Protein helps them to stay active to sustain the challenge.
- Older people:
Many older people eat less. So they become protein deficient which leads to less muscle mass and unhealthy heart. It makes their immune system. Daily protein intake makes them healthy and it delays their process of becoming older.
- Pregnant and Lactating women:
Pregnant women should take more protein to support the growth of the fetus. Breastfeeding mother also needs 75% more protein than normal.
- Menopausal women:
Thinning of the bones is common in the menopausal women because of hormonal related changes happen in their body. Phytoestrogen, which occurs naturally in protein-rich sources like soy have the beneficial impact on bone health and negate some other postmenopausal symptoms. This time women suffer from depression. Protein helps them to adjust to the changes by delaying the process of changes.
- Diabetic patient:
A diabetic patient has a lot of food restriction which makes them protein deficient. As a result, they become weaker and fall in another disease.
Athletes have to do a lot of physical activity which put much pressure on their bones and muscles. Protein helps to recover it. Athletes need more protein than normal.
Hence protein is needed for everyone even for a healthy person to maintain good health and prevent a future disease. Only the person who has protein restriction due to some medical reason should not take protein.
As on date, almost all the food item available for general Indian is being adulterated which leads to decrease the quality of the food. Some have to plan and work hard to design and arrange our food to fulfill our requirements. Otherwise, we can go for a quality protein supplement.
Following points should be considered in choosing a protein supplement:
- Some brands of protein use refined sugar, flavor, color with less amount of protein. We should avoid that brand.
- Focus and commitment of the company should be verified based on their history and profile. We have a strong regulatory agency worldwide to monitor quality system of the pharmaceutical product manufacturer. But GMP guidelines are more relaxed for dietary supplement manufacturer. There are always chances of malpractices during manufacturing of the product which leads to a poor quality product. If the company is producing dietary supplement from a plant source, the plant should be cultivated in an organic farm with good agricultural practices in place. Refer to the link for USFDA guidelines on GAPS: https://www.fda.gov/downloads/Food/GuidanceRegulation/FSMA/UCM360734.pdf. Seeds should not be a genetically modified, it put several risks on our health.
- Protein products made of Soy, milk, and whey contains more protein. Only veg protein sourced from Soybean is a complete protein.
- Check PDCAAS (As per WHO guideline) (Protein digestibility corrected amino acids score) of the protein. It means the amount of percentage of digestibility of each amino acids. PDCAAS of some protein is given below:
- Milk sourced protein should come from a pasture-fed cow who has not been subjected to hormone treatment.
- Make sure that protein supplement does not contain a high amount of fat. It may put the risk on your heart and any lead to make you obese.
- Make sure that from seed to finished product is manufactured by a single company holistically following the rule of quality. No third party is involved in the process of manufacturing.
Following points are last but not least:
- Do not take excessive protein for the long term. It puts a lot of negative impact on our health.
- Somebody has liver, uric acid, kidney related problems or is under medical treatment, should consult with a physician before taking a protein supplement.
- Take recommended amount of vitamin B complex with protein. As we will be in trouble if we lack vitamin B6, B9 (Folic acid), and B12 during synthesis of protein. According to American journal of clinical nutrition, when an adequate amount of these vitamins are present, our body becomes able to convert one amino acid (Methionine) to another amino acid (cysteine). Our body does it on regular basis. In absence of vitamin B, our body prepares a toxin called homocysteine instead of cysteine. Homocysteine is a sticky material which contributes inflammation and plugs up our arteries, leading to a possible risk of heart attack and strokes.
Whatever health we have today is a result of our yesterday’s food habits and lifestyles. Earlier we had major risk related to microbes contamination which used to take a lot of life. But in today’s world, we have a major risk from the disease (such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, etc.) related to our lifestyles and food habits. So we need to invest some of our hard earned money and interest to have quality protein on every day to maintain good health.