Protein Biochemistry and Nutrition
Protein biochemistry: Proteins are big molecules made up of smaller molecules called amino acids linked together to form long chains. Each protein is defined by its unique sequence of amino acids repeated over and over in its chain. Each repetition of a protein’s unique amino acid sequence causes the chain to bend or fold and this determines the shape (and function) of the protein. Some proteins give structure to cells and tissues like the collagen and keratin that give smoothness and elasticity to our skin and strength to our hair; others are for mechanical functions like the actin and myosin which enable muscles to contract and relax; proteins called enzymes help chemical reactions to take place throughout the body; immunoglobulins are proteins that help carry out the work of our immune systems. And these examples form just the tip of the protein iceberg. Virtually every important function of the body is run by proteins which in turn are made up of repeating sequences of amino acids.
Protein and nutrition: There are 20 different amino acids. Some amino acids can be made inside our own cells, while others have to be captured through our diets. Amino acids that we cannot make ourselves are called essential amino acids. There are 9 essential amino acids that we must consume regularly in order for our bodies to make all the different types of proteins necessary for optimal health. Some foods contain what are called complete proteins. Complete proteins contain all 9 essential amino acids in their sequences. From a dietary standpoint, foods with complete proteins are especially healthy. Eggs are the best example of a food containing complete protein, and eggs from an organic, pasture-raised chicken are among the healthiest foods in the Human Diet.
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