Eat Health: Pt III Protein Power
In feeding the human body we must have protein. A protein deficient diet can cause weakening of the heart, loss of muscle mass, and decreased immunity. In children, it can lead to a failure to grow.
Proteins are made up of amino acids. These are absorbed into the small intestine,then transported to the liver. The liver and other body cells use the amino acids to build new proteins such as enzymes, hormones, muscle protein, and connective tissues. Amino acids are not stored in the body, meaning that a new supply of protein is necessary in order for the body to continue to produce them daily. Only dairy, meat, fish, soy and eggs contain all 9 of the essential amino acids needed to keep a body producing healthily. Grains, nuts, vegetables, and legumes only provide some of the amino acids necessary.
Protein provides B vitamins, vitamin E, iron, and magnesium. Dairy products provide those and calcium and Vitamin D. Plant sources provide fiber and healthy monounsaturated fats.
Healthy adults require at least 8gm of protein per every 20 pounds of body weight. If recovering from an illness or injury then still more protein is required. Growing children and women who are pregnant or nursing also need an increased amount of protein. Guidelines state that 10-35% of the calories consumed daily should be from protein sources. Diabetics should be eating 38-130 grams of protein daily.
Meat is naturally low in carbs, but seasonings can increase the carbohydrate count. If you are a diabetic, it is especially important to eat leaner cuts of meat since diabetics are at an increased risk of heart diseases.
Protein also promotes satiety, or a feeling of satisfaction of hunger and feeling full. It is best to distribute it evenly over the day. Recommendations are for 20-30 grams per meal and 5-10 grams twice a day with snacks. Adding a small amount of protein to every meal slows the digestion of carbohydrates, decreases the body's out put of insulin surges by half and will keep that feeling of bloat at bay. In other words, eating protein will not only slow the production of natural insulin, it will make those carbohydrates work harder for lasting energy throughout the day.
On average, protein gram counts look like this:
3 ounces chicken breast (the size of a pack of cards) = 24 grams of protein
2 tablespoons of peanut butter = 8 grams of protein
1 ounce of low fat cheese = 23 grams of protein
1 large egg = 6 grams of protein
1/4 cup of dried lentils = 13 grams of protein
You may look online at nutritional tables or read labels to discover what the average grams per serving are for things like tofu or specific cheese, milk, cuts of meat, etc.
Proteins are another very necessary building block for the body's nutritional needs and should not be excluded from any diet if you wish to maintain good health.