Plants are an important source of proteins, but most plants actually supply the units making up the proteins – the amino acids. As you know, protein together with lipids and carbohydrates are the three basic groups of biochemical substances of which plant and animal organisms are made. Again, amino acid are the building blocks or monomers of the proteins (which are long chains of amino acids linked together).
How much Protein Do We Need?
Nutrition experts recommended that proteins(or amino acids) should account for 10-15% of the calories in a balanced diet, although requirements for protein are affected by age, health, weight, and other factors. Generally, a normal adult requires approximately 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight, or 0.8 grams per kg weight. That makes a total of 50-80 grams daily. Athletes have hiigher amino acid (protein) requirements, and babies need much more protein per body weight than do adults.
Protein are digested by the gatro-intestinal system and then cut into smaller, simpler units (amino acids) that can be absorbed through the walls of the intestines and used by the body. After absorption, the liver and various tissues will make their own, specifically needed proteins. Thousands and thousands of complicated proteins make up the structure of cell walls, and the soluble particles in blood or less soluble structures of bone and skin. Protein interact with each other specifically recognize each other in order to perform all our physiological functions. Life can be seen as a complicated and beautiful ”dance of proteins”! Since proteins and other nitrogen-containing substances are continuously degraded and rebuilt, they must be replaced by a continuous supply of amino acids from the diet.
There are 20 amino acids present in the human body’s structures. (Actually, in nature there are more amino acids.) Of those, 9 are known to be ESSENTIAL; they have to be supplied by the diet since the human body cannot synthesize them, as it does with the other 11 amino acids. Few foods, like Moringa, are known to contain all essential amino acids, hence, the importance of a complex, rich diet. The 9 essential amino acids are: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine. Histidine is considered essential for children and babies, not for adults. Strict vegetarians should ensure that their diet contains sufficient amounts of all these amino acids.