Why Do I Need Protein?

The protein found in foods is used in just about every body function.

Protein is needed in every part of the body, such as your organs, tissues, muscles, hormones, skin, hair, and nails. Protein satisfies cravings, creates a sense of fullness, does not increase our blood sugar, helps you maintain and lose weight, improves your ability to learn and concentrate, reduces brain fog, boosts your energy levels, is the building block of most tissues, including bone and muscle, and assists in the absorption of important nutrients. 

 

Although our brain is 60% fat, it needs sufficient amounts of protein. Amino acids like tryptophan, tyrosine, and arginine are crucial for our brains to synthesize various neurotransmitters and hormones. Tryptophan, for instance, helps build our feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin. Tyrosine is needed for the thyroid to operate optimally. Arginine is needed to produce nitric oxide, which relaxes narrowed blood vessels, and increases oxygen and blood flow. If we don't eat adequate protein at every meal, our brains can't work. We will be sluggish, foggy, anxious, unfocused, tired, and depressed. 

Protein plays so many other roles in our bodies as well. Without protein, our liver can’t perform phase 2 detoxification. Phase 2 is where the body excretes toxins; without sufficient amino acids, these toxins build up and are stored in our body.

 

What are the best sources of protein?

Each meal should include a 4- to 6-ounce serving of meat, chicken, or fish. This is about the size and width of your hand. Eating protein at every meal will prevent blood sugar spikes. As you age, you need more protein of higher-quality to maintain muscle mass and health. If you are an athlete, you need even more protein to support energy and performance.

 

Great sources of animal protein include:

  • Organic, pasture raised eggs: considered the perfect food because they contain all of the essential amino acids

  • Grass fed beef, free-range poultry, and game meats, including bison, venison, and lamb: contain special immune-boosting conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and healthy omega-3s

  • Dairy products such as plain, whole-fat yogurt and kefir: provide gut-friendly probiotics that improve digestion and immunity

  • Wild caught fish: contain a complete set of amino acids, plus the heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids

 

Great sources of plant protein include:

  • Tempeh

  • Lentils

  • Beans

  • Nut butter

  • Quinoa

  • Seeds

  • Leafy greens

 

To sum it up...

Protein plays a big part in a healthy diet, but quality is key! Although protein can reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, you don’t want to simply load up on protein foods all day long without eating enough vegetables, fruit and healthy fats. Balance is the foundation of good health.

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