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Protein 101

Protein is very important to our diets and proper nutrition.  Other than water, protein is the most abundant nutrient we can consume for our bodies use.  Protein once digested breaks down into amino acids, which are the building blocks for our cells.  These building blocks are absorbed by our small intestines, rearranged and then sent into our blood stream.  Protein has many specific functions within the body that help maintain our health and life.  Our tissues are all living and are made up of twenty-two essential and non-essential amino acids.  As essential amino acids are not produced or manufactured by the body, we must consume them in our diets.  There are nine essential amino acids; Histidine, Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, Threonine, Tryptophan, and Valine.  The other thirteen non-essential amino acids are produced in our bodies and do not need to be consumed.  These are called Alanine, Arginine, Aspartic Acid, Cysteine, Cystine, Glutamic Acid, Glutamine, Glycine, Hydroxyproline, Proline, Serine and Tyrosine.


Protein provides our bodies with four calories per gram and carries out many functions.  Once consumed, protein is stored, used for energy or used to carry out specific functions within our bodies.  When we have not consumed enough calories from fat or carbohydrates for our bodies to use as energy, protein will be converted and used as an energy source.  When we have consumed a good balance of fats, protein and carbohydrates, protein will be able to carry out the specific functions the body needs rather than being used to fuel our bodies for energy.  The specific functions protein is responsible for is the replacement of old cells, and the building of muscles, organs, blood, nails, hair, skin and tissues.  Protein also helps with hormones, antibodies, and enzyme formation.  Without an adequate amount of protein, our bodies will be in a fasting state and can slowly start to shut down some of these processes. 


There are two types of protein, complete and incomplete.  Although eating enough protein is important, it’s even more important to consume the right types of protein.  No matter how much protein we eat, our body will waste the protein and not run efficiently if we don’t eat the right type.  Complete proteins are those most important to our bodies and contain all nine essential amino acids.  Examples of these complete proteins include animal products, milk, cheese, chicken and beef.  Incomplete proteins are those contained within plant products and include such foods as grains, cereals and vegetables.  Although it is certainly advised to eat foods that contain incomplete proteins, we also want to make sure we are consuming complete proteins for proper nutrition.

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These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.  These products are not intended to treat, diagnose, or cure any diseases.