Protein is an essential part of everyone’s diet. Most of us are raised with parents who tell us to drink lots of milk, because it’ll make us stronger.
So what exactly is a protein?
The digestive acids in our stomach break down the protein consumed in the form of food into basic units called amino acids. These amino acids are reused in different sequences throughout the body to make the proteins necessary to keep your muscles, blood, bones, and organs strong. Protein is a “macronutrient.” This means the human body needs a lot of it to keep going. It keeps your immune system strong, consistently repairs tissue, and grows hair and nails.
There are 22 amino acids that scientists confirm are critical to human health. Out of these 22, the human body produces 13 of them without additional sustenance. We receive the other 9 essential amino acids by ingesting protein-rich foods.
Types of Proteins
Different foods provide different types of protein – such as animal, dairy, and plant.
Here’s a brief list of the proteins provided by various foods:
Meat, fish, and poultry: Collagen and myosin
Beans: Proteins and legumins
Eggs: ovalbumin and avidin
Animal-derived proteins are considered complete because they contain all of the essential amino acids, while plant-based proteins are missing a few. Vegetarians can still find the remaining amino acids by eating a wide variety of nutrient-rich foods.
Are you getting enough protein?
The amount of protein you should eat depends on age, sex, and exercise levels. Most healthy adults consume enough protein without calculating it, but vegetarians and vegans need to be aware that they eat enough protein. Don’t be fooled: extra protein doesn’t give you extra strength.
Be aware of sodium levels in packaged meats. Plus, additional fats will count against healthy eating if you eat too much protein.