~ Health Advice from PMGH – Are you getting enough protein in your diet? Part 1 of 4 ~

Welcome to another Health Update from the Port Moresby General Hospital, this week we are focusing on Protein. Are you meeting your daily protein requirements for optimum health?

What is Protein?
The body’s primary building block for muscle, bone, skin, hair, and many other tissues is protein. You obtain most of the protein your body uses through your diet, but your body can make proteins as well. Protein builds, maintains, and replaces the tissues in your body including our muscles, organs, and immune system.

Proteins are part of every cell, tissue, and organ in our bodies and are constantly being broken down and replaced, the protein in the foods we eat are then digested into amino acids that are later used to replace these proteins in our bodies which can then be converted into hormones such as adrenalin or may be used as an energy source. Brain cells, muscle, skin, hair, and nails are just some of the body parts that are protein-based. For instance, your body uses protein to make hemoglobin, the part of red blood cells that carries oxygen to every part of your body. Other proteins are used to build cardiac muscle. In fact, whether you’re running or just hanging out with friends, protein is doing important work like moving your legs, carrying oxygen to your body, and protecting you from disease.

The nutritional value of protein is measured by the quantity of essential amino acids that it provides. Different foods contain different amounts of amino acids. Generally: Animal products (such as chicken, beef or fish) contain all of the essential amino acids. People following a strict vegetarian or vegan diet need to choose a variety of protein sources from a combination of plant foods throughout the day to get an adequate mix of amino acids. For example, a meal containing cereals and legumes, such as baked beans on toast, provides all the essential amino acids found in a typical meat dish.

Symptoms of a Protein Deficiency –
– Wasting and shrinkage of muscle tissue
– Edema (build-up of fluids, particularly in the feet and ankles)
– Anemia (the blood’s inability to deliver sufficient oxygen to the cells, usually caused by dietary deficiencies such as lack of iron)
– Slow growth (in children).

Remember: A lot of plant-based foods like soy and legumes can give you the same amount of protein as meats. Try eating a hand full of nuts because they not only give you a lot of protein, but they’re healthy sources of good fat

Tip – Eat a well-balanced diet, exercise regularly and if you have any health concerns, please see your doctor at your local Urban Health Clinic.

We will be posting more health information over the next few days including Parts 2, 3, 4 of Protein so please check back soon.