‘E’ is for ESSENTIAL
We hear a lot about EFA’s (essential fatty acids). The reality is, there are many things that are essential for our physical bodies to thrive. Today, I’m talking about Essential Amino Acids. These amino acid’s are the building blocks of protein.
All proteins are combinations of 23 amino acids. Our bodies make most of them on it’s own, but eight of those amino’s are essential, meaning our bodies cannot make them. When all of these essential amino’s are present in the body, it’s able to produce other amino acids.
When some, or even just one amino acid is low or not present, the body is unable to synthesize other proteins it needs-even if we have a high protein intake.
Protein, the wonderful macronutrient that it is, is responsible for amazing things like building and maintenance of tissue, for the formation of hormones, blood clotting, formation of milk during lactation, and regulating the acid-alkaline balance of tissues and blood.
Amino acids also improve cognitive function.
Chemical messengers called neurotransmitters that communicate from cell to cell are dependant on amino acids for that communication to happen.
These messengers (there are hundreds of different kinds in the brain and body), affect mood, emotions, sleep patterns, our ability to cope with-and calm down after stress. The’ll keep you sharp, happy, and relaxed-when amino acids are in balance.
Serotonin (which is made from the amino acid tryptophan), is an example of a key neurotransmitter. It keeps you happy, improving your mood and banishes the blues. Serotonin is a pre-cursor to melatonin, which is what give us our day/night patterns and helps us sleep.
Generally speaking, the better the quality of protein you eat, the less you actually need to be well nourished. The quality of a protein is determined by it’s balance of amino acids.
How much protein is enough? Well, that depends on the person and his/her needs. Are they an athlete looking to achieve certain goals? Or a middle aged woman who requires protein maintenance?
Some great sources of good quality protein with the right balance of amino acids (aside from protein powders and supplements), are;
Quinoa, brown rice, tuna, cod, salmon, sardines, chicken, eggs, organic yogurt, lentils/rice combined, and beans/rice combined.
To help ensure optimal intake of amino acids, make sure you are getting 3 protein-rich foods per day.
Choose good quality, vegetable and meat sources and include a wide variety. Variety is key. When eating animal proteins, choose organic and grass fed whenever possible.
Remember, the 3 macro’s-carbs, proteins, and fats should be consumed at each meal!
If you have further questions regarding your protein intake and your lifestyle, or any other dietary needs, contact your personal heath care coach-that may be a holistic nutritionist, personal trainer, or your doctor.
Now get building your blocks!
C.H.N. Certified Holistic Nutritionist