Protein is one of the most important nutrients for maintaining your personal health. It performs a variety of functions for our biological systems, but the best way to think of them is simply as the body’s building blocks. Protein plays a crucial role in the formation of the nails, hair, muscles, eyes, organs, blood and bones. Aside from this, the nutrient is known to help the immune system produce antibodies, and facilitate the transfer of signals between neurotransmitters in the brain.
Protein is composed of smaller particles known as amino acids. In total, there are twenty of these tiny substances which occur naturally. The body on its own is able to produce eleven, but the other nine must be obtained through dietary means. Not every source of protein will contain all of these important amino acids, so it is essential that we combine multiple foods in order to obtain them.
On average, Americans and Europeans get double their daily recommended value of protein. Although this nutrient is essential, it is important to remember that consuming too much of it may lead to serious health problems.While the subject is fairly controversial and far from definitive, some studies have linked high protein diets to an increased chance of developing kidney disease, prostate cancer and diabetes.
There are a variety of sources for this essential nutrient, here are just a few of the more common ones:
In general, sedentary male adults should be getting an average of 56 grams of protein daily. Non-breast feeding females should aim for around 46 grams per day. On the other hand, breast feeding women should increase their protein intake by about 20-30 grams, making it roughly 66-76 grams on a daily basis. Any individual who does regular physical activity will need more of this essential nutrient, and should consult with a doctor or specialist to decide what amount would be appropriate for them to take.
Here are some simple measurements to help you keep track of how much protein you consume in a meal:
- On average, an 8 oz piece of meat contains 50 or more grams of protein
- An 8 oz serving of yogurt contains 11 grams of protein
- One cup of regular milk has approximately 8 grams of protein
- One cup of dry beans has 16 grams of protein
As always, remember to speak to your primary health care physician before making any changes to your diet.
Note: The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek medical advice for any questions regarding a medical condition or changes in your treatment.