food proteins immune system

Proteins in the diet

Vitamins and minerals in the diet

Proteins are essentially organic compounds. They are an integral part of every cell and are necessary for the organism’s health.

The basic building blocks of all proteins are amino acids. Proteins are carriers of numerous physiological functions in the body:

-many proteins are the building blocks of cells and tissues
-they are necessary for the growth and renewal of the organism
-without protein, there is no muscle contraction
-biological catalysts-enzymes are proteins
-many hormones (e.g., insulin, glucagon …) are proteins
-antibodies, as an essential part of the immune system, are proteins
-a large part of hemoglobin- substances needed to carry oxygen through the body, make up proteins
-Opsin  is a retinal protein necessary in the process of vision
-proteins play a role in transporting nutrients to the cell
-ensure the normal distribution of water in the body
– maintain acid-base balance
-serve as an energy source (however, it is recommended to settle energy through carbohydrates and fats)

From all the above, it is clear that a lack of protein intake can cause cessation of growth, loss of muscle mass, weakened immunity, weakness of the circulatory and respiratory systems, and as a final consequence, death.

 

Protein classification

Numerous protein divisions are possible; however, from a nutritional point of view, the most appreciative division is to:

– proteins of animal origin
– proteins of plant origin

The most common animal protein sources are meat, fish, milk, and eggs. These foods contain whole or complete proteins, which means that they contain all the essential amino acids in sufficient quantities and are considered much more valuable than plant origin proteins, which very often lack one or more essential amino acids. The consequence of a lack of essential amino acids in the diet is the cell’s inability to synthesize proteins.

Important sources of plant proteins are legumes and cereals. It is important to note that an appropriate combination of plant origin proteins is possible to ensure adequate intake of essential amino acids. However, to achieve the full value of plant origin proteins, it is necessary to expertly combine the proteins of various plants to provide the necessary amino acids in sufficient quantity.

Can too much protein be ingested?

Consuming a lot of protein, such as, e.g., case in the so-called. Protein diets with low or no carbohydrate intake are harmful. Among other things, such a diet extracts calcium from the urine, which means extracting calcium from the bones. Such a long-term diet can weaken bones.

Recommendations for protein intake

When talking about proteins, it is advisable to follow some guidelines:

-Eat a variety of proteins- A daily balanced and varied diet will provide all the essential amino acids

-consider what comes “bundled” with protein – many foods in addition to protein also contain a high proportion of fat. When consuming meat, stick to fat-free parts or avoid visible fats. An excellent choice is fish, poultry, and skim milk.

-balance the intake of carbohydrates and proteins

Protein and diet

diet with eggs weight loss

The popularity of high-protein, low-carbohydrate diets (e.g., the Atkinson and South Beach diets) requires that the health effects of such a diet be considered.

The popularity of high-protein, low-carbohydrate diets (e.g., the Atkinson and South Beach diets) requires that the health effects of such a diet be considered.

In a balanced diet, the body’s main source of energy is carbohydrates. By drastically limiting carbohydrate intake, the body begins to use its own fat stores for energy. However, in the lack of carbohydrates, the breakdown of fats produces ketone bodies that accumulate in the blood, resulting in ketoacidosis.

In ketoacidosis, the feeling of hunger is weakened, which means that food intake is reduced, so weight loss is possible. However, there is also an increased risk of several health problems, such as the appearance of kidney stones and kidney failure.

In addition to ketoacidosis, long-term practice of high-protein and low-carbohydrate diets has other negative health consequences:

-osteoporosis: a diet rich in protein extracts calcium from the bones, which is excreted in the urine, which after long-term consumption results in an increased risk of reduced bone density

-high cholesterol: foods rich in animal proteins are rich in saturated fatty acids and cholesterol, which over a longer period increases the risk of diseases of the vascular system, but also diabetes and some cancers

With all of the above, you must not forget that this restrictive diet is often poor in vitamins and minerals, micronutrients essential for health.

Protein malnutrition

Protein-calorie malnutrition (PEM) is the common name for several deficient malnutrition conditions that predominantly occur in underdeveloped and developing countries, most commonly in children.

The two most common conditions discussed are kwashiorkor and marazam.

Kwashiorkor is a condition where there is primarily a protein deficiency, while total energy intake can be provided by increased carbohydrate intake. Due to the lack of protein, fluid moves outside the cells into the interstitial spaces, manifesting as edema. Children suffering from kwashiorkor are malnourished, have swollen faces and abdomen, lag in growth, are anemic. Their hair falls out easily, and there are pigmented and unpigmented areas on the skin. In case of infection with bacteria, viruses, or parasites, the condition worsens. The disease is deadly if left untreated.

Marasmus occurs due to reduced energy intake caused by partial or complete starvation, although the protein content may be within normal limits. In the first year of life, it occurs earlier than kwashiorkor in infants fed diluted cow’s milk instead of breast milk. Patients look like “bone and skin,” muscles are atrophied, diarrhea is frequent. Children are fearful and irritable. In various infections due to protein breakdown, the condition can turn into kwashiorkor. Marasmus can also occur in the elderly who lose weight due to inadequate nutrition.

For children with protein-calorie malnutrition to recover and grow and develop properly, medical treatment, adequate nutrition, and good hygienic conditions are necessary.

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