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The Importance of Protein in a Diet

By: Winford Chang

Imagine waking up every day with brittle skin, thin hair, and extreme fatigue that would be terrible, right? Well, all of those are side effects of protein deficiency.  Proteins are the main building blocks of your body. It’s everywhere in your body, your hair, skin, tendons, bones, and practically everything else. With our body being filled with protein, it’s expected that most foods do also contain this macronutrient. 

Although protein deficiency isn’t commonly seen in modern, more developed countries because of the abundance of food, in third world countries it is seen as one of the leading causes of death for children. One syndrome that is commonly associated with protein deficiency is Kwashiorkor. In third-world countries, kids who develop this disease have a 90% mortality rate (Libretexts.org, 2020). Symptoms of this terrible disease include swelling of the feet and the abdomen. 

However, while eating not enough protein is terrible, eating too much could also cause health problems in your body. Too much protein from red meat with lots of saturated fats could cause issues like heart disease and colon cancer. Your liver could also be affected by your protein intake. High animal protein consumption results in a high intake of calcium oxalate, which can cause things like kidney stones. With that said, many people with kidney disease should abstain from a high protein diet, because this diet can increase the risk of dehydration for your liver and kidneys and affect its ability to properly detoxicate your body. 

But even so, just because eating too much isn’t great for you doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat protein all that much. Just the right amount every day could do wonders for your body. The right amount of protein could help you build muscle, lose fat, and get healthier and better-looking skin. Protein can also help reduce your appetite, decrease binge eating, and help you lose fat. The amount of protein you should eat is different for everybody, though anybody who is trying to build muscle should try and eat upwards of 1.4 grams of protein per pound. 

At the end of the day, the most important thing to keep yourself healthy is a balanced diet. Almost everything is good at the right amount. What’s important is that you count your macros and wake up ready to do what’s important to you. 

Sources:

Libretexts. “5.6: Diseases Involving Proteins.” Medicine LibreTexts, Libretexts, 14 Aug. 2020, https://med.libretexts.org/Courses/American_Public_University/APUS%3A_An_Introduction_to_Nutrition_(Byerley)/Text/05%3A_Proteins/5.06%3A_Diseases_Involving_Proteins. 

BSc, Atli Arnarson. “8 Signs and Symptoms of Protein Deficiency.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 31 Oct. 2017, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/protein-deficiency-symptoms. 

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