Proteins are the building blocks of our bodies. We need to consume protein on a regular basis to build muscle, skin, hair and nails. We also use protein to form hormones and the immune system, digestive system and blood all rely on proteins to function properly. When you eat protein, your body breaks it down into amino acids which are then reconstructed into the protein needed to build your body. There are three types of amino acids: essential (meaning your body can’t produce them on its own and you must eat them), non-essential (meaning your body can produce them on its own) and conditional (meaning your body can usually produce them but might struggle during times of stress or illness). All types of aminos are needed for your body to function.
As long as you are eating a wide variety of healthy foods that include a rainbow of colors, you should be getting all the protein you need. (In the past, we focused on the idea of a “complete protein,” meaning one that has all the amino acids but we now know that as long as we get a variety of foods over the course of a day, our bodies will join the necessary amino acids for the different meals to form complete proteins.) The current recommendation is to eat between 10-30% of your calories as a protein. Those over 40 and people who are regularly active may require more protein. Good sources of protein included organic, pasture raised meat, chicken, fish, beans, legumes, tofu, tempeh, yogurt and cottage cheese. I often recommend to my clients to include some protein with every meal and snack to help anchor blood sugar and slow down digestion. c