Life takes a toll when it becomes difficult to manage a proper diet. But if one can consciously consume sufficient amount of protein daily, he will stay fit both ways—emotionally and physically. Protein is an important ingredient in all the living cells’ survival. It helps in building, maintaining and repairing body tissues. Adults can benefit if they have minimum 56 grammes of protein daily. This will increase the tyrosine level in the brain that will keep one alert and awake with mammoth of energy. So, eating fish, poultry and eggs for breakfast will make the body function efficiently. In the case of vegetarians, soya beans and dairy products will suffice the basic need to maintain rich protein diet.
Infants must have 10 grammes of protein daily. The dosage increases as per the growth of the child. A school-age kid will need 19-32 grammes of protein per day. From adolescence, the quantity differs according to gender. A teenage boy will need 52 grammes daily, whereas a teenage girl will only need 46 grammes. For an adult man, it will be 56 grammes a day and adult women will be 46 grammes. Although, protein intake adds up to 71 grammes for a pregnant woman.
It is important to pair-up complex carbohydrates like fruits, vegetables, whole grain wheat and cereals with protein. This combination will take a longer time to metabolise and will help in reducing the craving to indulge in-between-meal snacks. It is the main source to boost the nervous system and increase metabolic rate. With the help of enzymes, hormones and antibodies, it can also fight diseases. Dr Nupur Krishnan, director of Bio-Logics Nutrition Clinic affirms, “Protein is an essential nutrient that every cell in the human body requires for growth or repair and antibiotics protect us from diseases. The neurotransmitter that derived messages to the brain is made from amino acids derived from dietary protein.”
Although, one must be watchful of how much protein has been consumed daily, as it can lead to high cholesterol level causing weight gain and cardiovascular problems. Especially, high-fat meats like pork sausage, bacon or beef should be taken on rare occasions only. Instead, go for nuts, whole grains, beans, chicken and turkey. Too much protein in the body can turn into fat, which is hard to lose!
There are twenty types of amino acids in the human body. Each of these amino acids has different functions in the body; eight of them are gained from food and rest are non-essential acids created by the body. These acids do not get stored in the body like carbohydrates and fats. The protein in the food gets digested into amino acids and are utilised in making new proteins in the body. “Animal protein with the exception of gelatine provides all nine essential amino acids in the proportion required by the body and is therefore referred to as complete or high-quality protein,” says Dr Krishnan.
There are two types of proteins—complete and incomplete, which are determined by the composition of amino acids. Complete proteins are only found in animals like eggs, milk, fish, poultry and meat. However, it is advisable to have the combination of both. Incomplete proteins like legumes, nuts, cereals and beans should be combined with complete proteins, to get sufficient amount of high protein. But, certain animal proteins carry a higher risk of obesity. So, whether one is vegetarian or not, he can always supplement it with protein shakes.
Breakfasts in the morning should have high protein contents as it will help the brain to stay awake and energised. A research has been done by the University of Missouri on teenagers’ brain activity, which shows teenagers who have skipped their breakfast were the hungriest compared to teenagers who had high-protein breakfast. There are several pieces of evidence available on diets that are based on animal protein causing health issues in humans. High intake of animal protein increases total blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, obesity, atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease. On other hand, proteins received from vegetables have dietary fibres and have lower fat and saturated fat content.
Protein is crucial for child’s growth as it can lead to weak immunity, retarded growth, poor digestion, slow healing of wounds and loss of hair. Notably, in developing countries like India, it is a serious health issue for child’s growth. Kwashiorkor is a kind of deficiency very commonly found in children, which can lead to losing of blood protein, liver damage and oedema. In contrary, Dr Krishnan says, “Excess protein doesn’t pose a serious threat to healthy persons, but too much protein adds to the workload of the kidneys and liver. Thus, people with diseases affecting these organs are often put on a low protein diet.” However, it is advisable to have a balanced diet according to the body type.
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