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Why you need to eat protein and where to find it

19 Apr 2013 12:32 PM - Protein is vital...are you getting enough?
Sashimi is a great source of protein

Insufficient or poor quality protein can be an underlying cause of so many health problems.

When I see a new naturopathic client, one of the many areas of their health I will question them about is their diet. Amongst other things, I am looking for adequate, good quality protein.

If your health is not what you would like it to be, is a lack of protein part of the problem?

Protein is a vital component of our diet.  Proteins consist of various amino acids linked together in different combinations.  Some amino acids can be made by the body and are therefore considered nonessential while others cannot be made by the body and therefore must be consumed as part of a balanced diet.


9 critical reasons why you need to eat protein


Protein performs many vital functions in the body and here are the main ones:

  • It makes up a major part of our body weight (second only to water) and is found in muscles, hair, nails, skin, eyes and internal organs.  Without it, we waste away.

  • Without protein we are more vulnerable to infections. It is essential for maintaining a healthy immune system.

  • Protein forms the basis of all our hormones such as oestrogen, progesterone, testosterone, thyroid hormones and many more

  • The neurotransmitters that make us happy and calm or excited are made from protein so a lack of protein can contribute to feelings of anxiety, depression or poor sleep

  • All of the enzymes that drive every chemical reaction in our body are built from protein

  • Protein is a source of energy or fuel for the body

  • Our haemoglobin which carries oxygen to our cells is made from protein. 

  • Protein helps you to feel full for longer and therefore is an important part of maintaining a healthy weight

  • It also provides the basic building blocks for how your liver detoxifies.


Our bodies constantly break down and re-use proteins however some are excreted as part of this process and without sufficient protein in our diet, every part of our body would eventually suffer to some extent. 

Inadequate protein intake may be a contributing factor in mental health disorders, fatigue, recurrent infections and loss of muscle tone (to name just a few).  


Vegetarian and meat sources of protein


The simplest way to ensure you are getting your protein is to aim to eat good quality protein with each meal.  It doesn't have to be more complicated than that. 

As a general guide to get you thinking, the following foods contain approximately 30g of protein each: 

  • 135g tuna(canned)

  • 130g white fish (cooked)

  • 125g Salmon (cooked)

  • 110g chicken breast (cooked)

  • 100g Lean beef or lamb (cooked)

  • 250g firm tofu

  • 125g dried lentils

  • 150g dried chickpeas

  • 135g Haricot (navy) beans

  • 340g cooked beans (ave of all types eg a bowl of vegetable and bean soup)

For snacks, you’ll get approximately 10g of protein in the following:

  • 50g almonds

  • 70g Walnuts

  • 70g Brazil nuts

  • 65g cottage cheese

  • 40g hard cheese

  • 200g yoghurt

  • 2 small eggs


So, are you getting enough protein to meet your needs for good health?

Try incorporating protein with every meal and snack for a couple of weeks and see if you notice a difference in your symptoms.

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If you want to dig deeper into the connection between your diet and your health call me for a naturopathic appointment on 03 9620 9503 or contact me. 

We can work out your body composition (muscle and fat) and determine your individual protein needs based on your health requirements and I will tailor some dietary suggestions to suit you.

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In good health,

 

Kaye Wright
Naturopath
Melbourne CBD

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