Proteins are defined as large molecules that consist mainly of amino acids and are considered to be essential for healthy functioning of our body. Several functions of our body are dependant on proteins, such as body structures, body cell regulation, healthy functioning of tissues is all dependant on protein. Our bones, skin, muscles and several other body parts store protein in abundance. 20% of our body weight consists of proteins which signify their role in our overall good health.
What are proteins made up of?
These consist of several thousands or small units of amino acids which form long chains. There are as many as 20 different types of amino acids present in our body which combine to form proteins. Each protein has a 3 dimensional structure which is determined by the positioning of amino acids.
Role of Proteins in Our Body
- Proteins help in repairing, replacing our tissues. They also play an important role in strengthening and building tissues. Proteins help in building keratin which strengthens our hair or any protective covering.
- They help our body in storing a number of things. Ferritin is a common protein which assists in storing iron in our liver.
- Proteins are involved in muscle contractions. Myosin and actin are the main proteins which help in muscle contraction and movement.
- Proteins help in making hormones which help in coordinating body movements and sending messages.
- Proteins help in making enzymes which help in biochemical reaction.
- Proteins help in making antibodies which are much needed for our overall immunity.
- Proteins cause a temporary boost in the metabolism of our body and can suppress our appetite both of which help in weight loss. Proteins also help in reducing weight as they help in keeping our tummy full. However, it is important to have the right quantity of protein in our diet or it is going to be harmful.
Here are some of the most common sources of proteins, though there are many other sources.
- White meat poultry is rich in lean protein. Skin should be removed since it is extremely rich in saturated fat.
- Seafood is low in fat and rich in proteins.
- Dairy Products like yogurt, cheese, milk are rich in protein and are rich sources of vitamin D which is needed for our bone health and strong teeth.
- Eggs are the best forms of inexpensive proteins.
In order to get complete benefits of proteins, adults need to have at least 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram of body weight in a day. Teenagers and kids need additional protein for growth and development. If there is a protein deficiency in the body, it could lead to hypo-tension and anemia. It can also cause a decrease in muscle mass since proteins help in building muscle strength. A decrease in muscles can cause weakness. However, if too much protein is consumed and not enough carbohydrates, it leads to ketones which can cause ketosis that causes nausea and fatigue.