Protein as a Nutrient
Protein is vital for the human body. It acts as the building blocks of body tissue, serving as a fuel source. One important property of proteins is its amino acid composition. Proteins are chains of polymer, made up of amino acids and connected by peptide bonds. They are normally broken down in the stomach (to polypeptides through the help of hydrochloric acid and protease) during digestion. Amino acids cannot be biosynthesized hence the importance of synthesis during digestion in the body.
There are nine vital amino acids that the body should obtain through diets to prevent the case of protein-energy malnutrition. The essential amino acids include valine, threonine, phenylalanine, leucine, methionine, tryptophan, histidine, lysine and isoleucine. Some amino acids are dispensable and can be synthesized in the body. They include asparagine, aspartic acid, alanine, glutamic acid and serine. There are also six other essential amino acids, whose synthesis is dependent on special pathophysiological conditions such as prematurity in infants and a series of catabolic disorders. The six are tyrosine, proline, glutamine, arginine, glycine and cysteine.
Protein as a nutrient is needed for growth and maintenance in the human body. They are the most abundant kind of molecules in the body apart from water. Proteins are seen in the cells of the body and are equally known as a major structural component of the muscle. Proteins are also needed for blood formation. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins and aid in the building of muscle tissues and repair of damaged tissues and as such, enhance athletic performance. Proteins acts as digestive enzymes and provides elasticity and fluid gel structures for easy adhesion in the connective tissue. They provide components that allow for muscle contraction and serve as hormones to the endocrine system. Proteins provide amino acids for the purpose of neurotransmission in the nervous system and equally aid the proper formation of DNA and RNA. They assist in the maintenance of correct blood pressure and provide structural integrity and protection to the cellular membrane. Proteins transfer chemical messages into and out of cells and promote oxygen-based energy production inside mitochondria. They detoxify the body by processing potential toxins to enable elimination from the body system.
Protein deficiency can result in different ailments such as kwashiorkor (prevalent in children) and symptoms like anaemia, shrinkage and wastage of muscle tissue, fatty liver, apathy, diarrhoea, flaky skin, loss of hair, poor digestion, slow wound healing and oedema of the feet and ankles.
Good protein food sources include legumes, eggs, milk, chicken, turkey, tuna, soybeans, beef, shrimp, salmon, sardines, cod, spinach, asparagus, oats, green peas, yoghurt, peanuts, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, tomatoes, cabbage, green beans and brussels sprouts.
The information and reference materials contained here are intended solely for the general information of the reader. It is not to be used for treatment purposes, but rather for discussion with the patient’s own physician. The information presented here is not intended to diagnose health problems or to take the place of professional medical care.