Importance of Protein
Protein is the hot topic of discussion lately. What exactly is protein, and why is it so important for our bodies? Are we meeting our protein needs adequately? How much protein is considered 'enough'? And what about protein shakes – should everyone be drinking them? As we find ourselves during National Protein Week (July 24-30), we are excited to provide you with straightforward and practical answers to all these questions. Let's dive in!!
A quick Overview: Proteins are essential macromolecules that play a crucial role in the structure, function, and regulation of cells and tissues in living organisms. They are composed of long chains of amino acids linked together in a specific sequence. Understanding the truth about proteins involves several key aspects:
Structural Importance: Proteins are the building blocks of cells and tissues. They provide the structural framework for cells, muscles, organs, and other biological structures. Examples include collagen in connective tissues, keratin in hair and nails, and actin and myosin in muscle fibers.
Enzymatic Functions: Many proteins act as enzymes, which are biological catalysts that accelerate chemical reactions within cells. Enzymes are vital for various physiological processes, such as digestion, energy production, and DNA replication.
Transport and Storage: Certain proteins are involved in transporting essential molecules across cell membranes or throughout the body. For example, hemoglobin transports oxygen in the blood, and lipoproteins transport lipids in the bloodstream.
Immune System: Antibodies are specialized proteins produced by the immune system to identify and neutralize foreign substances like viruses and bacteria.
Hormones: Some proteins function as hormones, which act as chemical messengers, regulating various physiological processes, such as growth, metabolism, and reproduction. Insulin is an example of a protein hormone that regulates blood glucose levels.
How much protein do we need?
Scientists and nutritionists agree that the average person needs 0.8 gms of protein per kilogram of bodyweight. Those who work out intensely or do hard physical labour need more repair/recover and build muscle. For Example : If your weight is 60kgs then Minimum recommended protein is 48 gms/day.
Can our body make its own protein?
Yes, our body can make its own proteins through a process called protein synthesis. Protein synthesis occurs within cells and involves two main steps: transcription and translation.
Transcription: The first step is transcription, during which the information encoded in a gene's DNA sequence is copied into a molecule called messenger RNA (mRNA). This process takes place in the cell nucleus. The mRNA carries the genetic information from the DNA to the ribosomes in the cytoplasm, where protein synthesis will occur.
Translation: The second step is translation, which occurs in the ribosomes. During translation, the ribosome reads the sequence of codons (groups of three nucleotides) on the mRNA. Each codon corresponds to a specific amino acid. Transfer RNA (tRNA) molecules bring the appropriate amino acids to the ribosome based on the mRNA sequence. The ribosome then links the amino acids together in the correct order to form a polypeptide chain, which eventually folds into a functional protein.
These essential amino acids must be obtained from food sources to support the synthesis of the wide array of proteins required for various physiological functions.
Is there a prevalent protein deficiency among Indians?
In India, a considerable proportion of the population relies on plant-based diets, which may sometimes lack adequate protein content, especially if not well-balanced. Additionally, socioeconomic factors, cultural practices, and regional dietary preferences can influence protein intake.
Indian cuisine, renowned for its delectable flavors, often leans towards being carbohydrate rich. Moreover, our consumption of meat, which is a reliable source of protein, is lower compared to other countries. Let's take a brief glimpse at the amount of protein derived from our meals.
To address any potential protein deficiencies, it is recommended for people to consult with healthcare professionals or registered dietitians who can offer personalized dietary advice based on individual needs and health status.