What are the building blocks of proteins? This may be a question that comes to mind when we think about protein composition. We’ve already encountered the word protein so many times in grade school and fitness clinics, and its no doubt that protein is needed by our body. Without it, our bodies will not function properly.
Though most of us know that proteins are indeed essential to our body, many still wonder how it's produced by our body aside from getting them from the food that we eat. In this article, we will share useful information about protein, its importance as well as its composition.
What are Proteins?
Proteins are considered the building blocks of life because of their crucial role in maintaining various processes in our body. This macromolecule is present in almost every part of us including bones, muscles, hormones, enzymes, and the bloodstream, without it, our body will not be able to function properly.
Proteins are very complex, to say the least. Each protein is composed of several different compounds depending on what body function it will support. One of the primary function of proteins in our body is that it supports making new cells, repairing tissues, and producing hormones in the body.
Importance of Proteins to Our Body
Being the building blocks of life, protein is an important part of maintaining a healthy body. Protein plays a vital role in many different processes, but listed below are the most common processes:
Helps in the production of cells
We are basically made out of cells, and protein plays a vital role in cell growth and production. A good example of this would be cell membranes which are made of protein and help in the binding and interaction of cells.
Most enzymes and hormones are made of proteins. Without these compounds, our bodies will not be able to do various physiological processes like cell production and oxygen transmission in the bloodstream.
For example, enzymes like lactase are responsible for the breakdown of dairy products that we consume and distribute throughout our bodies. However, a lack of these enzymes will result in lactose intolerance.
Repairs damaged tissues
Protein also plays a vital role in repairing damaged tissues in the body. This works by promoting the growth and production of certain hormones to support cell regeneration in the damaged tissues.
Helps in digestion and absorption
Our body absorbs nutrients from the food that we eat and distributes these nutrients through different parts of the body. Part of the protein we consume goes to making enzymes and hormones for various functions in the body.
Carries oxygen throughout the bloodstream
Cells in our blood contain a certain protein that helps in distributing oxygen across the body.
Supports overall fitness and health
Proteins from the food that we eat are also used by the body as a source of energy. Additionally, protein is known to help increase muscle density, prevent muscle loss, and help maintain a healthy weight, which works well for fitness enthusiasts. That’s why you would notice most bodybuilders take in protein supplements to support muscle density.
What are the Building Blocks of Protein?
Protein is considered a macromolecule. This means that it is composed of molecules that make up its structure. The molecules that make up a protein are called amino acids, which are considered the building blocks of protein.
Generally, there are various types of amino acids in our body, and 20 of them are found in proteins. To make up a certain protein, different types of amino acids are linked together to form some kind of chain. This chaining process will then lead to the final shape or structure of the protein.
To give you an overview, amino acids consist of a central carbon atom, paired with an amino group, a carboxyl group, and a hydrogen atom. There are different types of amino acids found in our body, and we will discuss them in the next part of this article.
Types of Amino Acids
There are three types of amino acids. Below are the following:
Conditional Amino Acids
These types of amino acids only become essential during times of stress, injuries, surgery, or illness. Examples of these amino acids are:
Non-Essential Amino Acids
This type of amino acid can be naturally produced by our body and is needed for normal growth and health. Examples of non-essential amino acids are:
- Aspartic acid
- Glutamic acid
Essential Amino Acids
Unlike non-essential amino acids, this type of amino acid cannot be produced by our body. Instead, it is acquired from the food that we eat. That’s why it’s important to include lots of protein in your diet. There are typically nine essential amino acids which include:
Foods to Look Out For
When we say protein, the first thing we can think of could be poultry, fish, eggs, and other dairy products. Though these are indeed good sources of protein, did you know that there are also various plant-based foods where you can get the most protein? This is good news for vegetarians and for people who want to promote frugality.
Below are examples of plant-based foods that are high in protein content:
- Pickle relish
Proteins are one of the most essential compounds found in our bodies. Our bones, skin, muscles, and hair have different kinds of protein present, and each kind of protein performs a role in maintaining and processing physiological functions.