Importance of protein

Posted 9.27.13 | Christine Graham-Garo

We all know we need protein in our diets. I will explain how important protein is for daily living. Proteins are made up of these small molecules called amino acids. There are 20 amino acids, some amino acids our bodies make readily, and other our bodies don’t make, so we need to get them from food. When we eat a protein source (where the proteins are in long chains of amino acids), the protein is digested in our gut and broken up into the individual amino acids so that each of them can do their particular responsibilities in our body.

So what do amino acids do in our bodies, well this is where it gets interesting. The obvious answer is they help to build muscle. We know that protein helps to create and strengthen our muscle, but there is so much more they do! Proteins (or amino acids) are vital for metabolic pathways in our bodies. So in order to covert proteins into the amino acids needed to do certain jobs, they must go through a conversion which is helped by enzymes. Enzymes are complex proteins that help to digest foods, help with blood clotting and even help with energy conversation in our bodies. These metabolic pathways are needed to live and are essentially based on proteins! Another example of the importance of protein is that protein plays a large role in our immune system. If a person does not get the amount of protein their body’s need, then their immune system can be weakened, and who wants that! To understand how much protein you or your child need per day, it is best to speak with a Registered Dietitian (RD). An RD can calculate the exact protein needs a person will require per day. It is always good to ensure you are getting the adequate amount of protein per day to ensure all bodily functions are in tip-top shape.

One really important role for proteins is for healing. When you get a paper cut, proteins are the first on the scene to start the healing process. They help to clot the blood and are part of the white blood cells sent to help fight infections. If a child or baby has a reaction to a food and their gut is affected (inflammation or blood in the stool) this means the gut needs to heal itself. When there is inflammation of the gut or the skin from eczema, the protein needs of that person will increase. This is because the protein we are eating then goes to help the healing of the gut and/or skin. So this is why protein intake (or overall adequate nutrition intake) is so important especially when there is damage to our skin or GI tract due to food allergies.

As you may know, the proteins in Neocate are already in the form of individual amino acids. This helps to absorb and utilize the protein efficiently in the body, while also minimizing the risks of allergic reactions as the proteins are in the most elemental state. So be sure you are getting enough protein in your diet especially if you or a family member has food protein allergies, by partnering with a Registered Dietitian.


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Food Allergy Living is a resource for parents of children with food allergies, brought to you by Nutricia, the makers of Neocate. For more in-depth information about our purpose & authors, see our About Food Allergy Living page.