Protein is a macronutrient that, when fully digested, breaks down into amino acids. Amino acids are micronutrients that our bodies use for several functions in our bodies. Amino acids are essential for our bodies to make enzymes and to fuel the Krebs Cycle so that we can make ATP or energy. These two processes are very important for our bodies. If something in our body needs to go from A to B, we need enzymes (from these amino acids) and nutrients to drive this process. If we need more energy, we need amino acids to make it. This means that protein consumption is essential for our bodies to function well and for us to feel great.
Protein is found in several different foods. It is found in high amounts in foods like meat, fish, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, dairy, and eggs. Protein is best when it is consumed throughout the day, especially for breakfast. Protein consumption for breakfast is important because it sets our blood sugar for the day and helps with off-setting afternoon fatigue and cravings.
Protein is beneficial for many things in our bodies, such as:
- Hair and nail health
- Bone health
- Muscle mass
- Tissue repair (especially when there is an injury or after surgery)
- Energy production
- Mood stabilization – amino acids are great for PMS, anxiety and depression
- Stabilize blood sugar levels
- Satiety and less hunger/cravings
- Concentration and focus
- Immune function
- Production of enzymes, especially digestive enzymes
Eating protein at breakfast, lunch, dinner, and with snacks throughout the day is ideal for most people. However, protein is harder to digest. if your body is not producing enough hydrochloric acid (in your stomach) to digest this protein, you may not feel as good when you increase your consumption. As we get older, we produce less hydrochloric acid and have a more difficult time breaking down protein to its amino acids. It is a good idea to speak to your health care provider, or reach out to me, to discuss this further if there is concern. Each person is different in what they need for digestive support, but it is a good idea when increasing consumption of protein.
For more information on choosing healthy protein sources, come to my WellnesSeries class this month and feel free to read additional blogs that I have posted on food for health. If you are wondering if you consume enough protein, feel free to contact me to schedule a time to review the foods you eat. I would be happy to make suggestions based on your lifestyle and health concerns.