Diets are everywhere these days. There are diets for losing weight, diets for strength training and even diets for optimum brain function. Even Oprah has her own diet! Which diet is right for you? Remember that achieving balance within your body is the key to any successful diet or nutritional program. Protein should be a part of every successful diet because it contains amino acids, which are essential to good health.
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. 1 Protein consists of amino acids held together by peptide bonds. 2 Our bodies are responsible for breaking down proteins from food into individual amino acids. This process starts in the stomach and ends in the small intestine where the amino acids are absorbed into the body. 1 It is important to understand how protein gets into the body, especially if you suffer from chronic or long-term protein deficiencies. For example, a lack of stomach acid can cause protein or amino acid deficiencies.
After being absorbed into the body, amino acids perform many different functions that are absolutely essential to good health. Some of these functions include:
- tissue formation (healthy muscles and organs) 2
- immune system and enzyme function
- hormone regulation
- brain function
It is also important to understand that certain amino acids can be made by the human body while other amino acids cannot. There are eight essential amino acids, which cannot be made by the body. These amino acids are isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine. 1 Histidine is also an essential amino acid for children and infants. A long-term deficiency in amino acids, essential or non-essential, can lead to health problems. 3
So what does all of this talk about protein and amino acids mean to you? If you are in good health, it means you need to focus on getting your daily dose of the essential amino acids through your diet. For non-vegetarians, two or three servings of quality meat, poultry or dairy is your best source complete protein. Vegetarians that eat eggs and dairy can use these foods as sources of complete protein. If you are a strict vegetarian or vegan, it is helpful to combine foods to create a complete protein such as beans and rice. Click here for complete protein food combinations.
While diet is the main source of protein and amino acids for most people, there are some individuals who may require amino acid supplementation. Good candidates for amino acid supplementation are athletes and individuals with long-term amino acid deficiencies. Free form amino acid supplements are absorbed directly into the body. T.J. Clark & Company offers quality amino acid supplements that also contain PolyFloramin. Polyfloramin is a mineral complex that enhances the absorption of all nutrients.
Remember that protein and amino acids are an important part of a healthy diet. The needs for these nutrients will vary from person to person. A good dietary guideline for most people is around 50-60 grams of protein per day, although this may not be enough for those who are more active. 4 Always listen to your body, as it will give you the answers you need to live a long and healthy life.
- Ron Kennedy, M.D., Santa Rosa, CA. Amino Acids. The Doctors’ Medical Library.
- Protein – Amino acids, Protein quality, Protein processing, Vital protein functions.
- Disease linked to amino acid deficiency. USA Today (Society for the Advancement of Education).
- Protein in nutrition. EveryDiet.org