ight nutrition is an important factor to score health, and both under and over nutrition impact physical health and our quality of life extensively. Lack of enough nutrients in the diet shows up without fail as lowered energy and stamina. Here, the macronutrient protein plays an important role.
Protein is widely considered as one of the essential fundamental building blocks of human body. From building bones and muscles and facilitating oxygen transport to strengthening our defense mechanism repertoire by developing antibodies, proteins take care of the overall wellbeing of human body on various fronts.
So why is protein important? Here’s my Top Four Reasons
# 1. The Maintenance Nutrient:
Overall maintenance of the basic structural units of human body. Protein is needed for maintenance, upkeep, and regeneration of all our body cells, and organs - right from hair to hormones, antibodies to nerves, and haemoglobin to bones. So, we need to eat enough good quality protein every day to keep our quality of life up.
# 2. Preserve Your Muscles
Preservation of muscle mass and prevention of functional loss. Enough protein in the diet is important for preserving muscle mass and preventing functional loss. Loss of muscle can begin early, often from the age of 30 itself and depends extensively on both right nutrition and enough physical activity. If there is a deficit in either and if that is not addressed timely, it may even lead to loss of mobility and independence.
Image Courtesy: Pixabay
# 3. Metabolism Controller
Controlling rate of Metabolism. Protein is needed for keeping our metabolism up and that is important for keeping our weight in check and avoiding unnecessary and debilitating weight gain.
# 4. Immune System Pillar
Integral part of the immune system. Protein is important for upping our immunity. Deficiency of protein impairs immunity and increases susceptibility to infections. Thus, eating a protein rich diet is an absolute necessity these days. Proteins are made up of amino acids and they are essential to produce antibodies that protect us from infection. Without enough protein in the diet enough antibodies won’t be manufactured in the body this would undermine our disease fighting capability extensively as out body simply won’t be prepared or geared up for fighting the invaders.
Unfortunately, most of us don’t eat enough protein, and our diets lack good quality, complete protein. And what is scary is that diets of most people (that is a lot of us) could be deficient in protein and we may not know it. Over time this could be undermining our quality of life in a big way.
So, for the sake of strength, mobility and better immunity, don’t let your guard down and ensure enough protein in your diet consciously. The requirement is 0.8 to 1 gram of protein per kg of your body weight. everyday. Why every day? That because extra protein is not stored in the body, so it needs to be supplied in the daily diet. It is also important to evenly spread the protein intake through the day. Ideally eat the protein at 3-4 meals spread throughout the day -- at breakfast, lunch, post-workout, dinner, and before going to bed.
It is also important to ensure good quantity, complete protein. Not all food sources of protein contain all the 9 essential amino acids our body requires. That is why as majority of the protein in Indian diets comes from vegetarian sources, our diets tend to be low in quality protein. In cases like these where the protein need is not being met or the needs are high (like in the elderly, teenagers, pregnant and lactating women or those recovering from an illness), food supplementation with a high-quality protein source could help to bridge the dietary gap.
It’s time to look closely at our diet. And score enough protein every day!
(The author is a Nutritionist, weight management consultant and author)