Protein Basics: Fueling Your Body’s Engine
Protein, alongside fats and carbohydrates, is an indispensable nutrient vital for optimal health. Imagine your body as a car; fats and carbs are the fuel, but protein is the actual car itself. Beyond structural support for bones, teeth, hair, and nails, protein acts as the building block for muscles, organ tissues, blood, and more. It plays a pivotal role in various bodily functions, from regulating hormones to creating immune cells, repairing tissues, and producing essential enzymes.
The Risks of Protein Deficiency
Deficiency in protein can lead to severe consequences, with sarcopenia involving the loss of muscle mass, and the potential worst-case scenario would be losing heart muscle mass. Protein deficiency affects organs, from the developing brain to the immune system and gut mucosal function. Signs of deficiency include muscle wasting, fluid build-up, anemia, and slow growth, particularly alarming in children.
How much do you require?
Understanding protein requirements: fueling the body adequately
To ensure optimal health, understanding protein requirements is crucial. The recommended minimum intake is 0.84-0.94 grams per kilogram of body weight depending on age and gender, established in 20061. However, this guideline might not account for the increased protein needs of today’s larger population, especially when relying on lower-quality protein sources like ultra-processed fast food.
Protein helps manage appetite, food cravings, and food metabolism
Protein and healthy aging: the science behind It
Protein isn’t just about structure; it’s a multifaceted nutrient with profound effects on overall well-being. It manages appetite, food cravings, and food metabolism. When combined with regular resistance exercises, adequate dietary protein helps build and maintain lean body mass, strength, and facilitates healthy aging. CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organisation) recommends 1.2-1.6 grams of protein per kilogram per day for healthy aging and muscle health.2
Strategies for optimal protein intake: quality matters
When it comes to choosing protein sources, quality is paramount. Opt for unprocessed meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, and dairy as your primary sources. Not only do these options provide the necessary amount of protein, but they also offer an ideal amino acid makeup and high digestibility.
In essence, prioritising protein isn’t just a dietary choice; it’s a lifestyle commitment to ensuring your body receives the essential building blocks for longevity and vitality. Remember, the fountain of vitality awaits those who prioritise protein.
This article was written by specialist pharmacist and health coach Theresa Loo and was first published in https://pharmacistedit.com/protein/. Images: Supplied.
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