Protein – an essential nutrient

Proteins are made up of amino acids and are important for every part of our body. They are required for growth and development and to ensure optimal function of organs and muscles.

In a balanced diet, we don’t need a great deal of protein but we do need enough and we need complete proteins too, as our body cannot make these. Our protein needs may vary according to our lifestyle, age, size, gender etc……
I’m an advocate for sourcing protein from our food. Protein shakes can be used for certain purposes and perhaps in the short term but I don’t believe we should be looking to them for long term solutions to supplement our diets.

The purpose of this post is to focus on highlighting obtaining proteins in differing diets. If you eat a diet balanced with some organic, carefully sourced, preferably wild and free roaming meat and fish, organic eggs from happy free roaming chickens, dairy from grass fed cows and an abundant variety of vegetables, spices and herbs, nuts and seeds, good fats, berries and some fruit, you will easily be able to obtain the protein you need – and all the other nutrients too! However if you eliminate any of those, through choice or medical reasons, then the job becomes harder. It’s not impossible at all but just requires more thought, planning, awareness and understanding. Protein from plants are a bit harder for our bodies to digest and we require much more of each protein source to obtain our optimum quota. If you are embarking on a vegan diet relying only on plants for your protein then you need to consider where you can get this from and how much you are actually getting. Good sources are black beans, kidney beans, flaxseeds, chia seeds, tempeh, natto, activated nuts and seeds, amaranth and quinoa. Vegetarian and vegan protein sources can also have high amounts of carbohydrates too so that’s important to remember when looking at a balanced diet. Complete proteins are found in chia seeds and flaxseeds so it’s important to include those in your diet too. Plan the week with a large variety of different vegetables, seeds, nuts and those foods listed above.
I also believe we can be duped into believing that highly processed foods can fulfill our nutritional needs – they can’t and it’s vital to think ‘whole food, fresh food, simple ingredients’!

We lose muscle as we age and so it’s even more important to ensure we are getting enough.
To calculate how much we need we should multiply our body weight by either 0.5 for a high protein diet or 0.3 for an average amount of protein. This will give you your daily intake in grams.

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