Protein is one of the key building blocks of the human body. Without protein, your body would be unable to exist for long. You can find protein within every cell of your body, and it is required for many of the processes that occur in your cells. Since protein is continuously used up by your body, you must replace it through eating foods that have the right blend of enzymes and proteins. By doing this, you can ensure that your body can build muscle, synthesize new proteins, create cells and maintain tissues.
What Does Protein Do for Your Body?
In your body, protein is responsible for a variety of different things. As one of the main building blocks of the human body, protein accounts for roughly 16 percent of your body’s weight. Throughout your hair, connective tissues, muscle and skin, you have protein. It plays a key role in your DNA, enzymes, neurotransmitters and bodily fluids.
1. Creating Enzymes
One of the first things that protein does is to help your body create enzymes. Through these enzymes, your body can catalyze chemical reactions. Two of the most common enzymes are known as lactase and pepsin. Through pepsin, your stomach is able to digest the food that you eat.
2. Creating Muscles and the Bones
There is a certain type of protein that is responsible for building muscle. Known as structural proteins, these muscles are stringy in appearance and responsible for supporting your body’s structure. Without this structural aid, your body would be unable to run, dance or stand. In addition to structural proteins, your body has collage. Collagen is placed within your skin, bones, ligaments and tendons to give your connective tissues the elasticity that they need.
Some of the best proteins for building muscles, bones and connective tissue include red meat like venison, lamb, pork, bison and beef. Sources of protein from fish include mackerel, salmon, tuna, bass and trout. Meanwhile, you can get protein from eggs or poultry like chicken, turkey or duck. Dairy sources of protein include cheese, whey, yogurt, cottage cheese and milk.
3. Transporting Nutrients Throughout the Human Body
For your tissues and cells to get the nutrients that they need, the nutrients need to move. Protein helps this process along by transporting nutrients between different parts of the body. In your cells, proteins carry nutrients like sodium and potassium. Meanwhile, they also transport vitamins like Vitamin A within your organs. A certain type of protein known as hemoglobin is located in your red blood cells and is responsible for transporting oxygen from your lungs. Afterward, it brings back carbon dioxide to the lungs where you end up exhaling it.
4. Protein Is Responsible for Balancing Your pH
For your body to function, it has to remain at an ideal pH level. Your blood and saliva are supposed to be at a neutral pH of about 7.0 to be at their best. Depending on pollution levels, the food you eat and your drinks, the pH in your body can change drastically. If your pH balance remains off for an extended period of time, it can end up leading to chronic health problems. Fortunately, you have some help in balancing out your pH: proteins. The protein that you eat help to pick up excess hydrogen ions whenever your body is too acidic. When your pH becomes too basic (too high), the proteins will release additional hydrogen ions to help bring your body back into balance.
5. Feel Great and Lose Weight!
Surprise! Protein is also responsible for your weight. When you digest protein, your body ends up burning more calories processing the protein than it would have to burn by processing carbohydrates. This essentially means that eating more of your calories from protein will result in a higher number of calories burned. Scientifically, this effect is known as the thermic effect. In addition, protein is good at helping your body to feel satiated. This means that you feel full for a longer period of time, which could cause you to eat less than normal.
6. Protein Boosts Your Immune System
When you eat protein, you are actually giving your immune system a boost. Our bodies are exposed to many bacteria, viruses and harmful substances throughout the day. Whenever your body encounters an outside invader, it sends out antibodies to stop it. These antibodies are actually a type of protein, and they are responsible for searching out the invader and neutralizing it. Due to this activity, proteins and the antibodies made from them are extremely important for having a healthy immune system.
How Much Protein Is Necessary?
Depending on your gender, age, weight and physical activity level, you may need a different amount of protein. Interestingly, Americans get far higher levels of protein than they need, which can actually cause other medical conditions. Among certain groups, protein deficiency is possible. If someone eats just 50 to 70 percent of the protein that they need each day, they are considered protein deficient. This condition is especially common among at risk populations like individuals with eating disorders or elderly females.