Dietary Info

Protein – The Building Blocks for Life

I thought it would be a good idea to share some of my knowledge and research about protein. We often hear that we should include protein in our diets but I want to explain more about proteins so that you understand why they are important and how we can ensure we are getting the best source of proteins in our diet.

Proteins are large, complex molecules that play many critical roles in the body. They do most of the work in cells and are required for the structure, function, and regulation of the body’s tissues and organs. [1]

I believe there is a lot of misconception about protein and therefore people are confused and don’t take them seriously. Basically, without protein, our body will simply shut down.

Looking at the protein function list you will notice that most of these functions have a direct connection with the digestive system. Antibodies bind to viruses and bacteria to protect the body. Well, 80% of the immune system resides in the gut so proteins are responsible for keeping your immune system functioning.

Next on the list are enzymes. We need enzymes in our body to help break down food first chewed in the mouth and then digested in the small intestine. If we have missing enzymes, then our food cannot metabolise properly.

The structural component means that they are the foundation of cell binding. We have approximately 37.2 trillion cells in our body [2], and many of them are found in the human digestive system so again proteins continue to play an important role in the health of our digestive system.

Transport and storage. Without proteins, important atoms and molecules cells would not be able to move through our body. Once our food is digested, the body extracts what it needs from the food itself and then travels through the bloodstream delivering the goodness to where it should go.

So, now we understand a bit more about proteins, let’s take a look at the different types of proteins that we get from our food; complete and incomplete proteins.

When you hear the term complete and incomplete proteins it refers to the chain of amino acids found in the foods that we eat. Think of them like individual Christmas tree lights—when you string them all together you get protein. There are two main classes of amino acids: essential and nonessential. You must get essential amino acids via your diet because your body cannot make them. Contrast this to nonessential amino acids, which your body can synthesise on an as-needed basis in addition to getting them via your diet. [3]

Essential Amino Acids

These amino acids come completely in the following foods (basically the Christmas Tree lights are working because all of the lights are linked together):

All animal-based products


Non-essential Amino Acids

These amino acids do not come complete and are often found in plant-based foods. However, the plant proteins are a little different, each plant has a different amino acid profile. So, if you are vegan, then it’s extremely important to vary your diet with a full range of plant proteins to ensure that your Christmas Tree lights all switch on. It can be very difficult to vary your diet unless you understand what you are doing and have time to spend on creating meals that are abundant in amino acids.

Some examples of protein plant-based foods with the correct amino-acid combination to make complete proteins [4].

Grains and legumes:

Black beans and rice

Pasta and peas

Whole wheat bread and peanut butter

Bean soup and crackers

Nuts and seeds plus legumes:

Roasted nuts, seeds, and peanuts

Hummus (chickpeas and tahini)

Lentils and almonds

In my opinion, it’s best to complement your diet with a small mix of everything. Eat a varied source of animal-based products, with a range of plant-based foods. I am a great believer in everything in moderation, even alcohol is okay but in small amounts. If you gorge and have too much of something for an extended period, then eventually something in your body will have to give way.

Furthermore, it’s important to remember that if you are suffering from ill health, then you may need a complete reset of your diet. Taking an approach to heal the gut first is a great simple way to start improving your health. Removing some of the foods that can be aggravators to your gut will help.

Here are a couple of tips:

  • Reduce sugar. Cut out all refined sugars and even fruit sugars for 3 months. Replace fruits with raw vegetables.

  • Cut out gluten for 3 months. Gluten has been found to contribute to leaky gut syndrome by producing too much zonulin. Zonulin is a protein released to open the tight junctions (TJ) of the small intestine. In a normally functioning gut these TJsare only open to pass through the good that your body needs, but in a poor functioning gut, the overrelease of zonulin means that these TJs are open most of the time allowing all the goodness and the badness to pass through into your body causing toxic overload. As a result, this is called Leaky Gut and will cause an array of digestive problems, and could lead to auto-immune diseases where your immune system begins to fight itself. [5] [6]

  • Cut out alcohol for three months.

  • Take a digestive enzyme to help the breakdown of your food. If you are missing enzymes, then they cannot synthesise and complete their job properly. The obvious symptoms of poor metabolism are digestive discomfort and food intolerances, people believe they are intolerant to foods so cut them out of their diet, which of course will help for a while but is unsustainable, so it’s best to take digestive enzymes for 3 months to encourage enzyme synthesis in your gut. Check out my Health Tips page for a link to buy some recommended digestive enzymes.

  • Drink bone broth

If you would like further information, then why not read some of my other blogs

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