When we eat foods that contain protein, the body breaks it down into amino acids. These amino acids are necessary for building muscle and blood. There are 22 amino acids, which are divided into two categories, including essential amino acids and non-essential amino acids. The body can make some of the essential acids on it’s own, but certain amino acids must come from eating foods containing protein.
There are many health benefits of protein. Eating enough protein is essential to maintain a healthy body. If the body sustains an injury, such as a cut, protein helps with tissue repair. Along with carbohydrates, protein provides energy for the body which helps keep us from becoming fatigued. Another one of the benefits of protein is helping the body fight off illness and disease and keeping the immune system functioning properly.
The muscles in our bodies are partly made up of protein. One of the benefits of protein is maintaining healthy muscles. Protein also helps build skin, hair, nails and cartilage. Because the body does not store protein, it’s important to eat healthy protein everyday.
Proteins are considered incomplete or complete proteins. Complete proteins contain all the essential amino acids, while incomplete proteins don’t. Good sources of complete proteins come from animals. For instance, eggs, milk, chicken and fish all contain complete proteins. Healthy food choices for incomplete proteins include, nuts, such as almonds, beans and whole grains.
To get the proper health benefits of protein, most people need about 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight each day. When additional demands are made on the body, such as in pregnancy or while recovering from an injury, more protein is needed to help the body. Children and teenagers also need additional protein to help with growth.
Without protein, the body would not be able to function properly. Various conditions could develop such as anemia and hypotension. Problems with circulation and healing from an injury would also occur. Because protein helps muscle, without it muscle mass may decrease and weakness can occur.
Although there are benefits of protein, too much of a good thing can be bad. Eating a high protein diet can cause problems if too few carbohydrates are eaten. When high levels of protein are eaten in combination with too few carbohydrates, the body can form ketones and releases them into the blood. This causes ketosis, which may lead to fatigue and nausea.