Our bodies are made up of molecules and atoms that play a huge part in our formation, and just like these atoms, what amino acids are in protein are called its building blocks. Without these amino acids, proteins would not be formed and won’t be useful for its main nutrient role of repairing and growing cells so that it would work properly as it should. How can we get enough protein and amino acids then? Proteins can be obtained through a wide array of foods that we can eat in our everyday diet, and the serving or protein amount that we need varies largely on many factors such as gender, age, weight, and any medical or health history.
Have you noticed that when you cook eggs, the whites turn from clear to an opaque kind of color once it’s fried? That’s because the structure of the protein bond has changed. The combination of amino acids has caused the change of color as new proteins have been formed on the change that was made, too. Isn’t the structure of proteins amazing? There are at least 20 different combinations of amino acids that can be made, and these proteins are being used for the bone, muscles, hormones, and other compounds in the body, such as enzymes.
Protein Structure and What Amino Acids Are In Protein
As mentioned above, what amino acids are in protein are called its building blocks because it is responsible for the repair and growth of cells in the body for it to work as it should. Out of the 20 amino acids that can be formed, 11 of these can be made from our body, and these are called non-essential amino acids, and the other remaining 9 amino acids are those that the body cannot make or produce or called as essential amino acids.
With that being said, the nutritional value measurement of proteins that we have in our body depends largely on the essential amino acids that it has. How can we get essential amino acids when it’s not produced by the body naturally? We can get it through our foods and diet and this could come from meat, plant products, dairy, eggs, nuts, seeds, lentils, beans, and legumes.
If you are a vegan, you can still get enough protein that you need if you just eat a wide array of foods. You can eat a meal with legumes and cereals like toast with baked beans and that could be a source of essential amino acids that are typically found in a dish of meat.
If in case you do not get enough protein or amino acids that your body needs, you can suffer from protein deficiency and may experience some of these side effects:
- Shrinkage and wasting of the tissues of the muscle
- Slow growth
- Edema is the excessive build-up of water and fluids in the ankles and feet.
- Anaemia which is the inability of the blood to deliver enough oxygen in the cells
Essential Amino Acids and all there is to know
These amino acids that are the building blocks of the much-needed protein in our body play many important roles in the human body. Some of its important functions are that it processes the synthesis of neurotransmitters and hormones and it also builds proteins. Essential amino acids could also be made as a boost for mood and athletic performance.
It is generally made up of compounds such as hydrogen, nitrogen-oxygen, and carbon and other important chain groups. As mentioned the body needs 20 amino acids to function and grow properly and while all of these amino acids are needed for optimum health, only 9 of it is considered as essential amino acids. And these are the following:
- Valine: It helps do muscle growth, stimulation, and regeneration. It is also needed for the production of energy in the body.
- Phenylalanine: These amino acid structure enzymes and proteins are needed for amino acid production.
- Tryptophan: What amino acids are in protein is to serve as building blocks and this amino acid balances the nitrogen in the body. It is also often called the reason for drowsiness.
- Threonine: This produces the needed elastin and collagen. It also serves as connective tissue and vital for skin formation.
- Leucine: Much needed for muscle repair and protein synthesis. It also stimulates the healing of the wound and regulates the levels of blood sugar in the body.
- Methionine: This is needed for detoxification and absorption of selenium, minerals, and zinc that are needed for the body.
- Isoleucine: Needed for muscle tissue concentrations and muscle metabolism. It is also needed for hemoglobin production, immune function, and energy regulation.
- Histidine: For immune response, sexual function, digestion and sleeping cycles, this amino acid is important.
- Lysine: This amino acid plays a very important role in the absorption of calcium, and the production of elastin and collagen.
Protein Food Sources and Tips
Now that we know how important proteins and the formation of amino acids in the body are, we always need to incorporate proteins in our everyday diet. Here are some of the food sources that you can add in your daily meal plans.
- Poultry Meat
- Turkey, chicken, emu, duck, bush birds, goose
- Lean Meat
- Lamb, beef, pork, kangaroo, veal
- Dairy Products
- Yogurt, milk, cheese
- Seafood and fish
- Prawns, fish, lobster, crab, scallops, oysters, clams, mussels
- Beans and Legumes
- Lentils, all beans, tofu, chickpeas, split peas
There are also cereal-based and grain products that could be a good source of protein but it would not be at par to those proteins that you can get from other lean meat products. Here are also some tips on how you can eat protein in your diet.
- Try eating a natural peanut butter bread or sandwich. Make sure there are no added fillers or sugar.
- You can add ricotta cheese in your mashed potato, scrambled eggs, pasta or casserole. You can also add it to your toast.
- Try adding beans in your casseroles, soups or pasta sauces.
- Experiment with your eggs as they are versatile and can be cooked anyway.
What amino acids are to proteins are what cells and atoms are in the human body. It is important to get enough protein so that these amino acids could function properly and work for the body. These compounds could be obtained through the plant and animal-based food products so that you could get your balanced diet and health needs.