Protein is a combination of essential and non-essential amino acids. Ten of these amino acids are absolutely essential for us to function properly because they can’t be produced by our bodies.
Protein is important because it promotes cell repair and growth, recovery after physical exercise, a good brain function, and without it, our bodies wouldn’t be able to support us long-term.
Here are 20 interesting facts about protein:
#1 The recommended daily value is 0.36 grams of protein for every pound that we weigh (or about 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram that we weigh).
#2 Our bodies – our muscles, hair, fingernails – are made up mostly of different kinds of protein which is made of different combinations of amino acids. More than 10,000 types of proteins are part of the human body.
#3 Non-essential amino acids are produced by the body in the normal breakdown of proteins or from essential amino acids. Although these essential amino acids are an important part of building proteins, they are not mandatory to be included in the daily diet.
#4 The list of the non-essential amino acids includes – asparagine, alanine, cysteine, aspartate, glutamine, glutamate, glycine, proline, serine, tyrosine, ornithine, histidine.
#5 Essential amino acids cannot be produced by the physical body, therefore, they must be introduced in the diet but is not necessary to be ingested at every single meal.
#6 The 10 essential amino acids include – arginine, isoleucine, histidine, lysine, leucine, phenylalanine, methionine, tryptophan, threonine, and valine.
#7 Vegetarian sources of protein include legumes (chickpeas, lentils, red kidney beans, lima beans, or navy beans, soybeans), nuts (pecans, walnuts, Brazil nuts, pine nuts, peanuts, cashews, pistachios, or almonds), seeds (sesame seeds, flaxseeds, pumpkins seeds, hemp seeds, or chia seeds), grains (oats, oat bran, millet, wheat, quinoa, buckwheat, or amaranth).
#8 A gluten intolerance is the body’s incapacity to break down or digest the gluten protein (which is found in some grains, especially wheat).
#7 According to research, 1 in 250 people in the United States are presently living with celiac disease, a serious intolerance to gluten-containing foods.
#8 Celiac disease is actually an autoimmune disorder that involves the body treating this protein – gluten just like a foreign invader. The problem is that the immune system starts to attack gluten, as well as the lining of the large intestine.
#9 According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, complete vegetarian diets provide more than enough protein, plus, they tend to be higher in certain minerals, vitamins, and dietary fiber lowering LDL cholesterol and saturated fat. More importantly, it tends to be relatively low in an amino acid, named methionine, which is strongly linked with premature cancer and aging.
#10 It’s a common misconception that you need animal products (such as meats, dairy products, and eggs) to get enough protein into your daily diet. Vegan athletes like Scott Jurek, Rich Roll, Mac Danzig, Brendan Brazier, Pat Neshek, Jimi Sitko, and Salim Stoudamire are live examples that plants can keep us healthy enough to swim, run, dance, bike (at a professional level).
#11 You probably know that animal products (such as eggs, meat, and dairy) are an excellent source of protein, however, they can also be high in LDL cholesterol, hormones, saturated fat, uric acid, and antibiotics.
#12 Consuming too much animal protein has been strongly associated with the development of pancreatic, endometrial, and prostate cancers. Animal protein also triggers the release of IGF-1, a cancer-promoting growth hormone. Furthermore, animal protein increases the risk of inflammatory bowel disease, the risk of colon cancer, and insulin levels, and promotes atherosclerosis.
#13 Casein is the main protein in dairy products (approximately 80% of its total protein content).
#14 There is 300% more casein in cow’s milk than in human milk. While some infant formulas have lowered or completely eliminated their casein content, it is a protein which still remains present in many such products.
#15 Some people are allergic to casein, and symptoms include – hives, breathing difficulty, rashes, swollen tongue, lips, eyes, and unexplained weight loss.
#16 Whey protein is the liquid that is left behind after milk is strained and curdled, a by-product of the cheese manufacturing process.
#17 This type of protein contains a lot of sulfur-based amino acids. This can lead to important calcium (essential mineral) loss which ultimately may lead to osteoporosis. In some individuals, whey protein can cause liver damage related to ketosis (it involves the body producing ketone bodies out of fat).
#18 Some unrefined forms of whey protein contain higher levels of lactose, a sugar found in milk products. Most people are lactose intolerance, a deficiency of the enzyme produced in your small intestine. Symptoms of lactose intolerance include – abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, or gas.
#19 A medium egg has around 6g of protein. Nevertheless, eggs are one of the most allergenic of all proteins. The proteins in an egg are concentrated in the egg whites.
#20 Everyone is so worried about protein, but what we really need to be worried about is dietary fiber intake. Fiber plays an important role in your heart, digestive, and skin health, also decreasing the risk of some cancers and diabetes. Fiber is only found in plant foods. Foods rich in dietary fiber are beans and seeds.