Protein Foods health benefits includes improving nerves signal transmission, providing alternative energy source, promoting hair health, enhancing the skin, maintaining joint health and suppressing appetite. Other benefits includes controlling diabetes, preventing osteoporosis and bone disease, promoting restful sleep, supporting immune system function, improving longevity and supporting weight loss.
Protein rich foods are amongst the most important macronutrient groups when it comes to ensuring health. Its importance simply cannot be overstated; it is needed for everything from tissue repair and growth, to production of hormones and essential components of the immune system.
With such important roles in the body, it is easy to see how a deficiency of this macronutrient could lead to serious repercussion on health. If you have never before been made aware of all that protein does for your health, let’s explore why it is important you get enough of this nutrient via your diet every day.
13 Health Benefits of Eating Protein Foods
1. Improves Nerve Signal Transmission
Protein deficiency is commonly associated with various types of nervous system disorder, owing to electrical transmission loss. A nerve fiber should be thought of as an electrical wire, one that requires insulation. Protein is responsible for the formation and maintenance of this myelin sheath, myelin being a specialized type of proteinaceous tissue. Not eating enough protein will result in deficiencies in the integrity of this barrier, and electrical signals will be lost along transit to the effector target.
2. Important Alternative Energy Source
Though carbohydrates, and more specifically glucose are by far the most common sources of energy for mitochondrial cell metabolism, in the absence of this macronutrient, proteins and fats step up to the plate. Proteins are able to be converted into small amounts of glucose to feed the brain, while fats are converted into ketone bodies. While not a lot of protein will be made into glucose, it is enough to support the brain, while fat will take care of the requirements of the rest of the body.
3. Promotes Hair Health
Proteins are important structural components, with hair being a protein based tissue. Deficiency of protein in the diet results in thin, unhealthy hair, with hair loss and scalp disorders common. Hair is rich in the protein collagen, which requires vitamin C and specific amino acids for synthesis. This also explains why many hair treatment products contain collagen or other proteins in their formulation, as it is believed to promote hair growth and health.
4. Promotes Youthful Skin
Protein is essential for the maintenance of skin’s youthful appearance, as it is an important structural component of it. Skin contains two very important proteins, collagen and elastin, which help to preserve the ability of skin to return to its natural state (avoiding sagging) and collagen keeps the skin barrier intact. Ensuring these proteins are synthesized at an optimal rate will also help to maintain the moisture content within it, which adds further years to its health.
5. Helps Maintain Joint Health
Joints are very important to continued mobility as we age, but like many body tissues, become worn down over time. While this is largely unavoidable, there are things you can do to prevent accelerated joint degradation, and avoid years of suffering and pain. One such way is to ensure that your body receives the raw materials necessary to maintain the cartilaginous structure of joints, which consists of primarily collagen. This acts as a sort of cushion, so that bone ends do not rub against each other. Inflammation can start a cascade of breakdown to joints, making it important to consume a protein rich anti-inflammatory diet to control it.
6. Helps Suppress Appetite
Protein is one of the best foods for helping to curb your appetite, being the macronutrients that is most likely to keep you filled for a long period of time. Among the various types of protein dairy based whey and casein appear to have the greatest action on appetite suppression, making protein snacks perfect for snacking in-between meals.
7. Helps Manage Blood Glucose And Control Diabetes
Protein offers excellent support in helping to manage blood glucose levels, as they play roles in manufacture of the peptide hormone insulin, helping to support diabetes management as well. When carbohydrates are combined with foods rich in protein and fats, the breakdown into glucose and its absorption into the bloodstream is stalled. By doing this, insulin spikes are minimized, and the adverse effects of insulin are also reduced. Over time, combined with a solid exercise regimen, reversal of type two diabetes is very possible, along with elimination of medication usage.
8. Helps Prevent Osteoporosis And Bone Disease
For years it has been claimed that high protein diets are bad for bone health, but as it turns out, this is only true of following a very poor diet. Under less than ideal conditions, protein metabolism results in the formation of certain acids which breakdown the bone matrix. However, under normal circumstances and while also consuming foods rich in anti-oxidants and that are basic in nature (most fruits and vegetables) these metabolites are easily eliminated. Proteins also stimulate the production of a growth factor known as IGF-1, which helps in mineral deposition into bone making it more structurally dense.
9. Promotes Restful Sleep
Protein rich diets have been found to be positively associated with improved sleep habits, possibly owing to the fact that diets rich in protein help to achieve neurotransmitter balance. Many neurotransmitters are made of amino acid sequences, deficiency of which leads to physiological disorders. Depression, and hyper mania are associated with disrupted neurotransmitter levels, with poor sleep a common result.
10. Supports Immune System Function
The immune system is a complex machine, consists of both living and non-living components. These living parts are the good bacteria that reside in our gut, while antibodies are protein based components. Deficiency of dietary protein could inhibit the production of antibodies, which compromise the body’s defense when an infection or possible invader looms on the horizon.
11. Supports Muscle Repair And Synthesis
There is a reason why protein is one of the most important macronutrients for athletes, and that is simply because muscles cannot recover to become stronger or bigger without it. During training, muscle tissue is broken down, and if not replaced, the body cannot compensate by rebuilding muscle tissue. During periods of illness, dietary restriction or persons who are older require protein much more than the average population, as there is greater propensity for muscle atrophy under these scenarios.
12. Weight Loss Is Supported
Protein is an essential macronutrient for bringing about weight loss, not only due to its ability to suppress appetite and improve satiety, but also because of its thermic effect. The thermic effect of food is a measure of the amount of calories necessary for the complete breakdown and absorption of it. As it turns out, protein has the highest thermic effect of the macronutrient groups, meaning that eating 500 calories worth of protein foods equates to a net intake of maybe 350 calories. This makes it excellent for supporting weight loss, as you end up with less calories in.
13. Can Improve Longevity
One of the greatest arguments for protein consumption is its effect on possibly promoting lifespan. Protein foods, especially dairy protein, elevates levels of IGF-1, a growth factor that promotes cellular recovery. Though it is not advised for persons with high cancer risk, it is excellent for helping you enjoy your life well into old age.
At a minimum, you should try to consume 0.5g of protein per pound of your bodyweight. This number goes up the more physically active you are, but ensuring you meet dietary needs is a great step in the right direction towards total health.