Protein is one of the most important substances in our bodies found in every single cell. Because the body uses this protein for many vital processes, we need to consistently replace it and we do this by regularly eating foods with protein. Just some of the ways that our bodies use protein include synthesizing new proteins (which allow our bodies to perform basic functions), maintaining tissues and building new cells. This article will share with you all the functions that protein brings to your body.
The body has several basic building blocks and protein is an important one of these. In fact, protein accounts for around 16 percent of a person’s total body weight. That is because connective tissues, skin, hair and muscle are all made up of protein. Protein isn’t just responsible for making up these substances; it also plays a crucial role in the majority of our body’s fluids and all of its cells. Even some of the important chemicals found within the body are partially made with protein and some of these include DNA, neurotransmitters, hormones and enzymes.
1. Build Muscles, Bones and Other Body Parts
A specific type of protein known as structural proteins can be found in every cell in the human body. They are stringy and fibrous and their structure is crucial for their role in providing support. These proteins are responsible for giving our bodies structure and because of this we could not do basic tasks such as stand, walk or run without them. Another specific protein found in the body is collagen and this is present in bones, tendons, ligaments and skin. Collagens as well as elastin help support these connective tissues.
Notes: Certain proteins are great at building muscle and they include:
- Red meat: pork, beef, lamp, bison, venison, etc.
- Fish: salmon, tuna, swordfish, mackerel, trout, bass, etc.
- Poultry breast: turkey, duck, chicken, etc.
- Eggs: although the yolk contains high amounts of cholesterol, having one or two eggs a day is good for you
- Diary: yogurt, milk, cottage cheese, cheese, etc.
- Whey: whey is a common ingredient found in protein shakes
2. Increase Immunity
If our bodies are exposed to any potentially harmful substances including viruses or bacteria, they send out antibodies, which are a type of proteins. These antibodies are responsible for finding and attacking the bacterium or virus in order to neutralize it and therefore stop it from multiplying which could cause illness. Because of this function, proteins are crucial for a healthy immune system.
3. Balance pH Value
The fluids within the body including saliva and blood work best when they have a neutral pH (which is 7.0). However, each day we encounter things that can change this pH level of our bodily fluids and some of these items include drinks, foods and even pollution. If the change in pH levels is drastic and persistent, you may end up with various health problems as well as chronic symptoms. The good news is that the proteins work to maintain your pH at a neutral level. They do this by picking up hydrogen ions when the pH levels are too acidic (too low) and releasing hydrogen ions when the pH is too basic (too high) which will raise and lower the pH, respectively.
4. Transport Nutrient
Proteins are crucial for transporting nutrients as well. They help our bodies maintain their electrolyte levels by carrying potassium and sodium in and out of the cells. They also help carry vitamin A and other vitamins between the organs and the cells. Hemoglobin, a specific protein that is found in the red blood cells, brings oxygen out of the lungs and into the cells. It is also responsible for bringing carbon dioxide from the cells and into the lungs where it is expelled.
5. Lose Weight
Protein is great for losing weight because of its high thermic effect. This means that when you digest proteins, your body will burn more calories than it would while digesting fat or carbs. Protein is also great at satiating the body meaning that if you have a meal that is rich in protein, you will feel full for longer.
6. Form Enzymes
Protein forms enzymes that will increase the speed of chemical reactions and because of this they are frequently called catalysts. Two examples of enzymes include pepsin and lactase. Pepsin is one of the digestive enzymes that help the stomach
How Much Protein Do You Need?
Everyone needs to consume a slightly different amount of protein each day as the exact number will depend on their daily caloric intake as well as their weight. In general, Americans tend to have more protein than they need in their diets but some groups are at a higher risk of being protein deficient. A protein deficiency is when someone only consumes between 50 and 70 percent of the amount of protein that is recommended each day and groups that are at a higher risk of being protein deficient include people with eating disorders or illnesses and elderly women.
Watch a video for how to calculate the protein you need and how to eat from healthy protein sources: