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The Pro’s in Protein

Proteins are a vital part of healthy living as they make up every cell, tissue, and organ in your body. There are thousands of different types of protein combinations (like a massive color wheel) that are each made up of different kinds of building blocks called proteinogenic amino acids. These protein assisting amino acids each have a different and distinct function in the body – so to have a range of these becomes an important part of food combinations.

When you consume foods with protein, the amino acids are singularly broken down in your stomach and intestine and are then reused and put back together by your body to make the specific proteins that your body needs. Once reutilized, these new protein formations help to build, maintain and replace the tissue required for your muscles, organs, bones and immune system and make up 75% of our non-water body weight.

Amino acids are classified into two main groups: essential amino acids and nonessential amino acids. There are 20 amino acids that assist in DNA replication and protein synthesis. Nine are called Essential Amino Acids (“EAA’s”) because your body needs them but cannot produce them so has to get them solely through food sources: either animal or vegetable based. A food comprised of all EAA’s becomes a “complete protein” which means that your body will automatically recognize this food as immediately useable. Complete proteins can be found in animal based foods such as meat, fish, eggs, and dairy products like milk, yogurt and cheese. For plant based food sources, you can find all of your EAA’s in: goji berries, hemp seed, raw cacao, quinoa, amaranth, spirulina, buckwheat, and Chia.

A list of these essential amino acids and their benefits is set out here:

Essential Benefits
Histidine Help with the synthesis of red and white blood cells and improves blood flow.
Leucine Beneficial for skin, bone and tissue repair and helps to promote growth hormone synthesis.
Lycine Vital to synthesize enzymes and hormones. Also acts as a precursor for L-carathine which is essential for healthy nervous system function.
Methionine Helps to breakdown fats and aids in reducing muscle degeneration.
Phenylalanine Helps the central nervous system and can boost brain health for memory and learning.
Threonine Helps to enhance a positive mood and is also an antioxidant.
Leucine Beneficial for skin, bone and tissue repair and helps to promote growth hormone synthesis.
Leucine Beneficial for skin, bone and tissue repair and helps to promote growth hormone synthesis.
Trytophan Needed to help with the synthesis of the neurotransmitter serotonin and can help relieve migraines and depression.
Valine Essential for muscle development.

All other non-essential proteins are called “incomplete” as they lack one or more of the EAA’s and includes: nuts, seeds (other than Chia, hemp and quinoa), grains, legumes and beans. These amino acids and their benefits are set out here:

Non Essential Benefits
Alanine Removes toxins and strengthens the immune system and helps to metabolize glucose.
Arginine* Helps to keep the blood vessels open (vasodilatation) so important for heart health. Also is ‘regenerative’ in that it promotes growth hormone production, and supports the immune system.
Asparagine Helps to balance the central nervous system and metabolize ammonia..
Aspartic Acid Helps to stimulate endurance and can remove toxins from blood stream.
Cysteine* Helps to remove toxins from body and stimulate collagen production for younger looking skin.
Glutamic Acid Helps to metabolize fat and sugars and assists in brain function.
Glutamine Acts as ‘brain fuel’ and it is one of few compounds to pass through the brain barrier.
Glycine Promotes better functioning of central nervous system and assists in keeping prostrate healthy.
Proline Helps to promote tissue repair and build cartilage and collagen.
Serine Helps to improve brain function and central nervous system and strengthen the immune system.
Tyrosine* Helps to reduce stress and assists in improved brain function.

*- Essential in young children and aging.

So the best option is to choose plant based foods that have all EAA’s and to mix other non-complete protein foods with EAA foods or other non-complete foods that complement each other and become complete. For example, if you mix dried beans, lentils and peas with nuts, seeds and whole grains, they complement one another and mixed, become a complete protein.

Why choose plant based protein over animal based?:
• Meat has no fiber in it.
• Red meat is high in saturated fats
• Most prepared meats include sodium nitrate as an additive to stabilize the red color and prevent the growth of bacteria, these include: bacon, ham, hot dogs, luncheon meats, smoked fish, and corned beef. These additives have been shown to cause cancer in animals when consumed in large quantities
• Fish and shellfish are high allergens and may be contaminated with high levels of mercury. In addition, shellfish is high in bad cholesterol.
• Cow’s milk and dairy products are a high allergen and has a low protein content based upon volume and has a lot of homogenized fats
• Protein powders are no longer whole foods as they have been processed to increase protein levels. But how are bodies absorb and metabolize these foods is another story. Better to stick with whole foods that deliver all three macronutrients than processed and isolated ones. Also, these powders also often include artificial sweeteners like aspartame which is linked to neurological disorders. Other sweeteners contain no nutritional value and trick your body into thinking it is eating something sweet – many have harmful side effects (see section on sugars).

Diets that are very high in animal based protein can be a major stress to the body with dangerous side effects. Diets high in red meat can result in: high cholesterol levels due to lowered carbohydrate/fiber intake; stress on the kidneys and liver as too much protein that cannot be used has to be broken down in the liver to separate out the nitrogen waste that is hard to get rid of; calcium leeching from your bones and too much protein can reduce bone mass; high uric acid levels in the bloodstream which will cause gout or arthritis if left unchecked.

Another reason to eat mostly plant based protein rich food, is the high sources of plant enzymes. At any given moment, all of the work being done inside any cell in your body is thanks to the busy little enzymes working on overtime. They act like chemical-reaction machines inside each of your cells and are made from various long formed chains of  amino acids which then become their own unique shape. This unique shape then allows the enzyme to take on a particular job (or chemical reaction) needed in your body. They have a myriad of functions which are based upon two specific actions: breaking down molecules (such as glucose for usable energy) and pulling them together (like building cell walls). They literally create a required reaction or speed up the process at which your cells get things done – like an amazingly efficient administrative assistant that keeps you organized and on track.

All living cells contain enzymes and we are each born with for our own personal supply that you draw down on when needed. However, your body has a limited ability to produce enzymes so you need to source these high functioning energy balls from enzyme rich foods. Enzymes have different characteristics, but generally speaking enzymes can be destroyed by high heat, organic acids, and some medications. Once again, the richest source comes from raw and natural foods like superfoods.

Summary: Make sure that you get enough protein daily and that the protein source is preferably a whole and complete protein with all of the essential amino acids or that you eat enough different types of plant-based proteins to get all the aminos in that you need. Avoid animal based protein as your main protein source as the long term side effects can have bad effects so opt for sources of protein that are rich in enzymes that are predominantly plant-based.

By | 2017-02-09T16:21:25+00:00 February 1st, 2017|News|0 Comments

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