Why We Need Protein In Our Diets
By Connie Hertz
Welcome to May! Happy May Day!
The weather has finally turned to spring here in Minnesota, hurray! It was a very extended winter here with a snowstorm just over one week ago here!
Here is a photo of my cat, Hendrix last summer out on my deck, with the beauty of my plants in the photo, to celebrate spring being here, finally!
The theme the month of May is about nutrition.
I’m beginning with protein and why it is so important to us.
I met with a nutrtionist several years ago at my health club, who told me I was not getting enough protein. I was not eating enough in the morning to keep me satisfied.
Protein is an essential nutrient found in animal products, nuts, and beans. The name protein name comes from the Greek word protos, which means “first.” Your body uses proteins in your diet to build new cells, maintain tissues, and synthesize new proteins that make it possible for you to perform basic bodily functions.
To visualize a molecule of protein, close your eyes and see a very long chain, rather like a chain of sausage links. The links in the chains are amino acids, commonly known as the building blocks of protein. In addition to carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms, amino acids contain a nitrogen (amino) group. The amino group is essential for synthesizing (assembling) specialized proteins in your body.
The human body is chock-full of proteins. Proteins are present in the outer and inner membranes of every living cell. Here’s where else protein makes an appearance:
- Your hair, your nails, and the outer layers of your skin are made of the protein keratin. Keratin is a scleroprotein, or a protein resistant to digestive enzymes. So if you bite your nails, you can’t digest them.
- Muscle tissue contains myosin, actin, myoglobin, and a number of other proteins.
- Bone has plenty of protein. The outer part of bone is hardened with minerals such as calcium, but the basic, rubbery inner structure is protein; and bone marrow, the soft material inside the bone, also contains protein.
- Red blood cells contain hemoglobin, a protein compound that carries oxygen throughout the body. Plasma, the clear fluid in blood, contains fat and protein particles known as lipoproteins, which ferry cholesterol around and out of the body.
About half the dietary protein that you consume each day goes into making enzymes, which are specialized worker proteins that do specific jobs, such as digest food and assemble or divide molecules to make new cells and chemical substances. To perform these functions, enzymes often need specific vitamins and minerals.
Your ability to see, think, hear, and move — in fact, to do just about everything that you consider part of a healthy life — requires your nerve cells to send messages back and forth to each other and to other specialized kinds of cells, such as muscle cells. Sending these messages requires chemicals called neurotransmitters. Making neurotransmitters requires — guess what — proteins.
Finally, proteins play an important part in the creation of every new cell and every new individual. Your chromosomes consist of nucleoproteins, which are substances made of amino acids and nucleic acids.
So, I hope I’ve convince you to pay attention to the amount of protein you are getting in your diet!
If you’re wondering how many grams of protein a woman should consume per day, there’s no cut and dry answer. It depends on your weight, your activity level, and whether or not you’re pregnant. There’s an easy way to calculate the number of protein grams that’s right for you. Just take your weight in pounds and divide it by 2.2 to figure out your weight in kilograms. Then multiply that number by 0.8 (not very active) through 1.8 (extremely active), depending on how much exercise you get.
As a general guideline, the USDA’s RDA for protein for adults is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight per day. The USDA’s average requirement of protein for women ages 31-50 is 46 g/day. You’ll need to up that if you keep an active life; you should also increase protein intake if you are pregnant or nursing.
In one study, they are suggesting that if you weigh 100 lbs. you would need approximately 60 grams of protein per day and then each extra 5 lbs you weigh add 2-3 more grams of protein or so. If you are a woman and weigh 165, this study suggests you consume 97.5 grams of protein per day. There are many different studies out there!
I would suggest if you really want to individualize what amount of protein you need per day, set up an appointment with a nutritionist!
My company has two different protein powders you can choose from to consume each day. I choose our Chia seed protein and pea protein, and mix up a smoothie in my blender each day with:
2 C Power greens in the produce section of most grocery stores ( Organic)
1 C fresh parsley ( it’s a great detoxifier)
1 C frozen blueberries
1 big chunk of fresh ginger root (peeled and quartered)
1 big chunk of fresh lemon with the rind left on ( washed of course and quarted)
a few pieces of fresh asparagus, if you choose
1 C water
3 ice cubes
You can add any other fruits you choose such as a banana or other berries.
Your choice of protein powder
Mix in a high powered blender, separating the ingredients out, as you mix, then add more in, or a juicer
With this smoothie, I am getting protein and many other antioxidants from the fruits and veggies I put in.
Happy, healthy eating to you!
As always, please “Share” this on FB or per email so we can reach more people!
Blessings to you,
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