Two questions! One – are you getting enough protein in your diet? And two – are you getting enough of the right protein in your diet.
The answer for these questions for most Americans is one yes and two maybe.
Protein deficiency, according to the Centers for Disease Control or Prevention or CDC, is rare among healthy adults in the U.S. Most Americans eat too much protein, but maeat the wrong kind of protein – think of burgers and hotdogs.
Protein deficiency, however, is not impossible. Vegetarians, vegans, dieters, neglected children and seniors and people on low fixed incomes are at the greatest risk of consuming a diet either deficient in protein or lacking in an adequate balance of protein sources.
Recommended Daily Amount
Adult women should consume about 45 g of protein per day, adult men about 55 g. Physically active adults may need more. In the standard American diet, it’s pretty difficult not get the recommended daily amount of protein over the course of a day.
Protein Deficiency Symptoms
Here are five primary signs of protein deficiency:
One – Unhealthy Skin, Hair and Nails
Everything you see in the mirror in the morning is protein and it all requires sufficient amounts of adequate protein intake to stay healthy. Your skin, hair and nails are also the first organs that begin to show you’re not getting enough protein in your diet. Low protein consumption adversely affects their growth. For instance, skin becomes wrinkled and loses color. Hair becomes thinner and falls out. Nails grow soft and brittle. In other words, the less protein you take in, the more unhealthy and unattractive your skin, nail, and hair begin to look. Eating enough quality protein plays a vital role in natural skin care.
Two – Loss of Muscle Mass
Muscles are the meat of your body and store the bulk of the body proteins. When your protein intake is insufficient, muscles are first to sacrifice their proteins to repair and grow other vital organs in the body such as heart, liver, and kidneys. Even when dieting, muscles are atrophied to provide energy for your body. While this works as a strategy for people looking to lose weight, it should be a call for concern if your intention is not to lose weight because extreme protein insufficiency may lead to other diseases.
Three – Prone to Disease
Our immune system is made up of proteins. Hormones, antibodies, and white blood cells all require protein to function and reproduce properly. In the absence of adequate protein, your immune system becomes impaired and you become more susceptible to simple diseases your body normally can defend against. Things like flu and colds become harder to fight off. You may also find simple wounds like cuts and abrasions take longer to heal as protein is needed for the growth and repair of body tissue.
Four – Increased Appetite
The human body has its ways of correcting tan imbalance of protein intake. If you’re not getting enough protein, you may notice your appetite shoots through the roof and you begin to crave certain food products. For instance, you may find yourself wanting to eat meat and other animal proteins. enjoying meals with meat, animal proteins and the likes. You may also find your appetite for salty and spicy foods to shoot up. These, caving can lead to weight gain and obesity. This is known as protein leverage hypothesis.
Five – Insomnia
One of the major causes of insomnia is poor blood sugar balance. This blood sugar imbalance is a result of high cortisol and low serotonin levels in the blood. Low protein intake is what causes the serotonin levels to dip. This can carry over to the night leading to insomnia. Taking enough protein before bed helps increase the serotonin levels in the blood, reducing absorption of sugar into the bloodstream. That’s one reason why a glass of warm milk at bedtime has long been a folk remedy for sleeplessness.
Best Protein Sources
For most people, getting enough complete protein is not a problem. The best sources of complete protein are animal foods. Those who eat animal foods, such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy foods will be getting all the essential amino acids needed for the building and repairing of bodily tissue.
Vegetarians, vegans and anyone avoiding or limiting animal foods in their diet need to wisely choose their non-animal food sources – nuts, seeds, grains, fruit and vegetables – so that they get all the essential amino acids on a daily basis.