Malnutrition can develop quickly and the body needs and 20% of the human body is made up of protein.
Because your body doesn’t store protein, it’s important to get enough from your daily diet.
You can get protein from many food sources, including plants and animals.
* Always discuss dietary needs with your healthcare provider and a consult with a Registered Dietitian can be helpful.
There is animal protein: Animal protein sources, such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs and dairy, are similar to the protein found in your body. And there are plant protein sources, such as beans, soy, lentils and nuts.
Enzymes are proteins that aid the thousands of biochemical reactions that take place within and outside of your cells (7).
The structure of enzymes allows them to combine with other molecules inside the cell called substrates, which catalyze reactions that are essential to your metabolism (8). Some proteins are hormones, which are chemical messengers that aid communication between your cells, tissues and organs. Some Proteins provide structure – keratin, collagen and elastin, which help form the connective framework of certain structures in your body (13).
Keratin is a structural protein that is found in your skin, hair and nails. Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body and is the structural protein of your bones, tendons, ligaments and skin (14). Elastin is several hundred times more flexible than collagen. Its high elasticity allows many tissues in your body to return to their original shape after stretching or contracting, such as your uterus, lungs and arteries (15).
Enzymes may also function outside the cell, such as digestive enzymes like lactase and sucrase, which help digest sugar. Enzymes require other molecules, such as vitamins or minerals, for a reaction to take place.
Bodily functions that depend on enzymes include (9):
- Energy production
- Blood clotting
- Muscle contraction
Proteins also maintain proper pH.
Proteins regulate the body ability to maintain fluid balance.
If you don’t eat enough protein, your levels of albumin and globulin eventually decrease. Proteins can no longer keep blood in your blood vessels, and the fluid is forced into the spaces between your cells. As the fluid continues to build up in the spaces between your cells, swelling or edema occurs, particularly in the stomach region (23). This is a form of severe protein malnutrition called kwashiorkor that develops when a person is consuming enough calories but does not consume enough protein (24).
Proteins help form immunoglobulins, or antibodies, to fight infection
Proteins– carry substances throughout your bloodstream — into cells, out of cells or within cells. The substances transported by these proteins include nutrients like vitamins or minerals, blood sugar, cholesterol and oxygen (30, 31, 32).
Protein contains four calories per gram, the same amount of energy that carbs provide. Fats supply the most energy, at nine calories per gram. The last thing your body wants to use for energy is protein since this valuable nutrient is widely used throughout your body.Carbs and fats are much better suited for providing energy, as your body maintains reserves for use as fuel.
The collective information above confirms protein is one of the most important nutrients for your health.
A simple and easy animal source of protein:
Baked Chicken recipe that can be served with a baked potato or mashed potato and soft cooked vegetables (Example: carrots, green beans).
- 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
- 1 tablespoon water, or as needed
- Preheat convection oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
- Rub chicken breasts with olive oil and sprinkle both sides with salt to taste *do not use salt if a salt-free diet is prescribed.
- Place chicken in a broiler pan.and place broiler pan into the preheated oven.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes.
- Flip chicken and cook until no longer pink in the center and the juices run clear. This should take about 15 minutes more.
- An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read at least 165 degrees F (74 degrees C).
- Remove chicken from pan.
- Place Chicken on plates and serve with a baked or mashed potato and soft cooked vegetables of choice (example: carrots, green beans).
Protein Source with References: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/functions-of-protein#section10