Protein is among the key nutrients the body needs to function properly. It is useful for body growth and maintenance. This means its lack in the diet for some time can lead to serious consequences on your well-being. Fortunately, most foods especially those containing adequate calories will give proteins to the body.
It is good to note that most body cells contain proteins. Signs of lack of enough protein can be as a result of insufficiency of an essential amino acid in the body. In most developing countries, protein malnutrition is common, leading to ailments like kwashiorkor and marasmus. These are however uncommon in most developed countries like the United States.
Despite an adequate intake of calories, it is possible not to have your protein needs met. This is common in young children just after weaning. If they ingest carbohydrates only from grains, they are likely to develop a condition called kwashiorkor. Signs of the disease include retardant growth, change in hair color, enlargement of the abdomen and an inflated fatty liver. This condition can also be found with adults if they do not ingest enough proteins.
The second condition is marasmus, usually common with infants and children of less than one year old. It results when calories in their diet are limited. Children start showing signs of muscle wasting, anemia and general body weakness.
So how much is enough or good quality protein in a diet? This is an important question, especially considering that there are also dangers of having too much of it. Its requirement differs from one person to another depending on whether their source is centered on animal or vegetable proteins. Those who eat meat will need less protein in their diet than the vegetarians.
The quality of protein is measured by its ability to provide the eight amino acids necessary for human life. This is how proteins from animals are said to be of good quality as they have all these essential amino acids in a ration comparable to that of the human body. Two important amino acids, lysine and methionine, may lack in most plant protein sources.
If you are a vegetarian, make sure to choose your diet to include various vegetables and legumes. Proper intake of calories will put you at less danger of protein deficiency. Combine foods like beans and lentils with vegetables in your meals to help you have all essential amino acids in your body.
Other than these diseases, there are other serious dangers of not eating enough protein. One may have noticeable changes in their physical appearance like skin color. The melatonin, the pigment that makes the skin to have color, is created when there is enough protein in the body. Parts of your skin especially areas that have scars may turn whiter and one may develop irritation and dermatitis.
Since without proteins the body cannot build muscles, a person will start losing weight. In addition, the muscles may become weak, followed by a sense of body weakness and fatigue. This is why children without enough proteins in their diet will fail to grow to their full stature since they do not gain weight or build muscles.
If one does not ingest proteins properly, they risk having a lower immunity. This means your body is prone to all sorts of diseases that may attack regularly since it cannot fight effectively. If this lack of protein is prolonged, one may suffer from shock or go into a coma.
It is therefore vivid that importance of this dietary component cannot be stressed any better. Even though those losing weight will first think on how to reduce fatty foods in their diets, there are serious dangers of not eating protein in your meals. One should seek medical attention if they have any of these conditions, to have it solved before it becomes irreversible.