Written by: Sheila Partrat and Dr. JF Lesgards
Our bodies need 3 macronutrients to function. They are Proteins, Fats and Carbohydrates. Most of us are aware that our bodies store (unfortunately sometime in excess) fats and carbohydrates. Stored fats (in the form of triglycerides)and carbohydrates (in the form of glycogen) are used by the body for energy. However, we can’t store amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein. There are 20 amino acids, found in proteins that our bodies use to function at a cellular level. Because proteins/amino acids are not stored, we need to replenish our protein supply daily. If our body doesn’t get enough protein to replenish what it needs on a daily basis to function, it will take proteins from our bone and muscle structure, and this is not what we want!
Protein deficiency can manifest itself in many ways and can actually be hard to specifically identify as a protein deficiency. Let’s take a look at the signs that can easily be mistaken for something else entirely.
- You can get sick more often. Most of us know that good nutrition, in addition to sleep and good hygiene is key in maintaining immunity. High quality animal protein which is naturally rich in essential amino acids will boost our immune system as well as our anti-inflammatory defences.
- You can experience slow wound healing. Protein aids the body in repairing damaged tissues. When we don’t get enough protein, we have a difficult time forming the collagen and keratin, necessary for the healing process.
- You may suffer with poor quality of sleep. There are many factors that negatively impact the quality of sleep; one of the possible causes is unstable blood sugar levels and a decrease in serotonin production. Blood sugar swings that happen during the day carry over into the night. Eating foods containing quality protein before bed can help stabilise the blood sugar as well as contribute to serotonin production (thanks to tryptophan richness) that encourages quality sleep.
- You may start to have frequent injuries. A diet that is low in protein can raise the risk of; muscle loss, slow bone healing, increased bone weakness, fractures and even osteoporosis. Protein is a key factor in calcium absorption by the body and helps with bone and muscle metabolism. It’s even more important as we age, a diet high in amino acids can help treat muscle loss due to ageing (sarcopenia).
- You can experience poor concentration and brain fog. Protein is needed to support many aspects of healthy neurological and hormonal functioning. Poor concentration can be a sign that there is a deficiency in the neurotransmitters needed to focus including dopamine, adrenaline, noradrenaline, and serotonin. Neurotransmitters are synthesised using amino acids. Certain amino acids also increase magnesium uptake in cells contributing to the relief of stress.
- You will notice blood sugar fluctuations. An adequate supply of protein helps to regulate blood sugar and prevent cardiovascular diseases. Studies show that whey protein can be used in medical/nutritional therapy to regulate blood sugar (hyperglycemia). It can also lower triglycerides, reduce blood pressure and the risk of hypertension and consolidate arterial health.
If you are experiencing one or more of these signs there is a possibility you are not getting enough good quality, absorbable protein in your diet on a daily basis. It may be time to re-evaluate what you are eating on a daily basis to determine if you are getting enough protein. Stay tuned for our next post on tips to distinguish the quality of your protein.
Our bodies are amazing machines and if you give it what it needs it will function optimally without supplementation.
“Most people have no idea how good their body is designed to feel” – Kevin Trudeau