Blog, Health & Wellbeing, Nutrition

Why we need Protein in our diet.

Every cell in the human body contains proteins. Proteins consist of a structure that is made up of amino acids and are the building blocks of life

The purpose and function of proteins in your diet is to assist the human body in the process of repairing cells, to create new cells, maintain tissues, and synthesize new proteins which are important for the body to perform basic bodily functions – essential for growth and development and human function.

Muscle tissue contains myosin, actin, myoglobin, and a number of other proteins. Hair nails and the skin’s outer layers are made of the protein Keratin. Bones are also made up of protein. The outer layer of the bone structure is hardened with minerals such as calcium, and the inner structure is made up of bone marrow and this all contains protein.

Red blood cells contain haemoglobin. Haemoglobin is a protein compound which transfers oxygen throughout the body. The clear fluid in blood is called Plasma and this also contains protein and fat. These particles are known as lipoproteins. Lipoproteins carry cholesterol around and out of the body.

Human cell creation, hair, nails, blood, muscle cells, chromosomes, neurotransmitters and many other parts within the human body require or are made up of protein. Proteins are present in the outer and inner membranes of every living cell. Therefore, protein makes up an essential part of the human body and its function.

Protein Food Sources:

Protein is an important nutrient that can be found in animal products and other sources such as; vegetables, nuts and seeds. Approximately half the protein we consume in our diets goes into creating enzymes. Enzymes are proteins that have a specific role such as; digestion of food and molecule assembly and division to make new cells and chemical substances within the body.

Enzymes carry out these functions by the utilisation of certain vitamins and minerals. The human body breaks proteins into parts called amino acids. This process is carried out by digestion.  The body requires a number of amino acids in a large amount – this is essential to maintain good health. Amino acids are found in animal sources such as milk, meats, fish, and eggs.

You do not need to consume animal products to get protein in your diet. Protein can also be found in vegetables, plant sources , nuts and grains such as; soy, legumes, lentils, beans and some grains (such as wheat germ and quinoa).

Studies show that consuming protein can also help with weight loss. It boosts your metabolic rate and can reduce your appetite.  Protein is much more satiating than both fat and carbs.

How much protein do you need in your diet?

The amount of protein each individual requires depends on your  overall calorie needs. The daily recommended intake of protein for healthy adults is 10% to 35% of your total calorie needs.

Children and teens may need different amounts of protein depending on their age. The requirement of Proteins is significantly increased in people who are physically active, as well as in elderly individuals and those recovering from injuries.

To conclude; the human body breaks proteins into parts called amino acids. Some of these amino acids can be produced by the human body, while we must get others – “essential” amino acids – from our dietary sources. Protein is vital for the human body, its function and for health.

Thank you for reading! 

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Dal Dhaliwal is a health and wellbeing expert, educator and special advisor on physical activity. She is also an active professional speaker and TV/ radio presenter. Dal helps entrepreneurs and professionals with their physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. She consults and presents for some of the UK's leading businesses and organisations within the wellness, sports and business arena.