All about proteins

  • Shikha Sharma, Hindustan Times
  • Updated: Nov 15, 2014 20:25 IST

Most of us know that protein is an important part of our diet, but we don’t really know why, or how much is necessary, and where to source them from. Here are some FAQs.

What are proteins?
Proteins are the building blocks of the body. All our organs, tissues, muscles, skin, hair, and so on, are built of protein molecules.

What are they needed for?

Body growth and development: A protein deficiency in growing children can result in weak bones, muscles, organs and tissues, showing up as lack of growth, dull skin and hair, a weak liver and poor digestion.

Body maintenance and repairs: Though adults need fewer proteins than growing children, they still need to be of good quality, because our bodies are constantly sloughing off dead cells and replacing them with new ones. Plus, new cells are required to help injuries heal.

*Immunity: The cells in our bodies that identify and fight off infections are made of protein molecules.

A protein deficiency leads to low immunity.

Hormones: Protein is an important part of the structure of hormones. Hormones control almost all body functions by carrying messages from the master glands to all parts of the body.

*Energy: When the body doesn’t get enough carbohydrates to fuel itself, it falls back on protein.

That is why people who go on starvation diets lose muscle tissue.

*Transportation and storage: Protein molecules like hemoglobin carry oxygen, while others store minerals.

How much protein do we need?
Make sure you consume one gram of protein for every kilo of your body weight. So if you weigh 50 kilos, you need 50 grams of protein in your diet every day.

Some sources of protein and their pros and cons
Dairy:Milk, curd, yoghurt, processed cheese, paneer

Palatable, acceptable for vegetarians, easily available in many varieties, contains calcium.
Cons: Many adults are lactose intolerant, dairy products may create indigestion, gas and acidity.

Whey protein:The liquid that is left after cheese has been processed

It is efficiently absorbed by the body.
It’s still a dairy product, so may cause allergies.

Red meat:From beef, mutton, etc

Pros: Is quickly absorbed by the body.
Cons: Has been linked with heart disease and immune disorders. Commercialised meat has high levels of hormones and antibiotics.

Poultry:From chicken, duck, etc

Pros: Efficiently absorbed, less fatty than red meat, not linked with heart disease
Cons: Commercialised poultry is high in antibiotics and hormones.

From HT Brunch, November 16
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