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.
Proteins are made up of hundreds or thousands of smaller units called amino acids, which are attached to one another in long chains. (click here for a video and additional resources on proteins.)
The body does not store protein. Therefore, it is important to properly digest protein daily (click on the photo for a video and additional information on the proper portion and ways to consume protein daily)
Amino acids are necessary compounds that are the natural building blocks that form protein. Getting enough protein is crucial to the human body. Amino acids are important nutrients for healthy cell structure, growth, repair and function. When proteins are eaten and digested (broken down), amino acids are the resulting compounds. The body knows how to use these nutrients. Currently there are 21 known amino acids. In science, they are classified into three groups:
- Essential amino acids
- Nonessential amino acids
- Conditional amino acids
Current research shows that amino acids play a critical role in metabolizing nutrients, building muscle tissue, and protecting the body against disease. They perform a multitude of body functions and are shown to be vital in improving:
- cellular and body growth and development
- boosting reproductive function
- repairing body tissue
- contributing to lengthen lifespan, prevent cardiovascular disease prevent obesity
- improve antioxidant function
Click here for a video and further information on amino acid
Essential amino acids – 9 types
The nine essential amino acids are: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. (click the below boxes to enlarge)
These are the nine amino acids that your body cannot create on its own, and that you must obtain by eating various foods. Adults need to eat foods that contain the following eight amino acids: methionine, valine, tryptophan, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, threonine and phenylalanine. Histidine, the ninth amino acid, is only necessary for babies.
For Foods That Contain 9 Essential Amino Acid – Click here
Nonessential amino acids – 4 types
- “Nonessential” means that our bodies can produce an amino acid, even if we don’t get it from the food we eat…however they are necessary for health.
- They include: alanine, asparagine, aspartic acid, and glutamic acid. (click the below boxes to enlarge)
Conditional amino acids – 8 types
- Conditional amino acids are shown to be important and necessary and of great benefit in times of illness and stress. Meaning that the body may not be capable of producing enough of them when presented with substantial stress or illness.
- They include: arginine, cysteine, glutamine, tyrosine, glycine, ornithine, proline, and serine.
In order to keep a balanced diet of the necessary amino acids required for the body to function in a natural and healthy manner, it is recommended to eat a daily balanced amount of protein and consume a variety of whole foods. Although animal proteins are considered complete proteins because they naturally contain all nine essential amino acids in each serving, it is recommended to eat at a very minimal due to health issues that may occur (please visit Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
for further information and research). During those times you eat meat it is highly recommended that you consider organic, grass-fed
, and wild game.
For Those Who Don’t Eat Meat Plant proteins are naturally lower in some of the essential amino acids, and are therefore called incomplete proteins, although quinoa, and a few others are considered a good source of proteins. However, by eating a diverse diet of vegetables, grains, and legumes, you can easily create complete proteins. You may also try sprouted brown rice protein, which is naturally digestible, bioavailable and offers a complete spectrum of amino acids.
However you choose to nourish your body, make sure that your diet is rich in whole foods and plant life. In doing so, you can be sure that your body is receiving the required daily intake of the necessary amino acids to promote a healthy and abundant living. Refer to the chart in the nine-essential amino acids section for resources and detailed information on types of foods that have the necessary amino acids.