Protein comes from Greek πρωτεϊνη or first thread. Proteins are molecules made up of amino acids. They are complex and have a high-molecular-weight. Proteins are essential for our body. Some proteins are enzymes or subunits of enzymes. Nutritionally speaking, proteins serve as the source of amino acids. Proteins yield four kilocalories of energy per gram, but they are not the ideal energy source of the body as carbohydrates are.
Adults need a minimum of 1 gram of protein for every kilogram of body weight per day to keep from slowly breaking down their own tissues for proteins. If a person if malnourished, their body will actually break up muscle cells for protein. Protein malnutrition leads to kwashiorkor. This is most common in children. Symptoms include swollen abdomen, reddish discoloration of the hair and depigmented skin. Protein deficiency can cause growth failure, loss of muscle mass, decreased immunity, weakening of the heart and respiratory system, and death. If someone suffers from kwashiorkor, they are first given food with high content of protein.Digesting protein takes a lot of calcium which comes from food or bone. If you eat too much protein for many weeks, a significant bone mass may occur.
Complete proteins that have all the essential amino acids a person needs come from animals. Vegetarians should eat a variety of protein-containing foods each day and/or should take amino acid supplements.
In the past few years, people have been losing weight using high-protein, low-carbohydrate diets. Some research in the past two years that people on lose carbohydrate, high-protein diets lose weight quicker than people on low-fat diets. They have shown that after a year or so, weight loss if about equal. This may be so because our bodies get on a plateau. These diets may work because: high-protein foods slow the movement of food from the stomach to the intestine, making a person feel full for longer and get hungrier later; protein's gentle, steady effect on blood sugar avoids the quick, steep rise in blood sugar and subsequent hunger; and because the body uses more energy to digest protein. You can do your own search on www.pubmed.gov on recent research articles on diets.
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Some information for this blog was obtained at http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/protein.html
Accessed on November 28, 2005
Disclaimer: Information on this blog is posted for information purposes, not as a substitute for professional medical advice.