Protein pack your body, right now

Today being the National Protein Day, observed to create awareness about protein deficiency, we tell you how crucial this macro-nutrient is for your well-being
Eggs are a good source of protein
Eggs are a good source of protein

Chennai

For most households breakfast would comprise milk and eggs, lunch would be fish or chicken. That way, we want to believe that our protein intake is sufficient. But as alarming as it may sound, according to a recent Unicef report, every second Indian child is affected by some form of malnutrition – their consumption of protein-based calories is negligible.
“Proteins are the building blocks of a healthy body – found everywhere, from our muscles, skin, hair, bones and blood. Without proteins, repair and maintenance of vital tissues are inadequate to the point of risk,” says Shaina Ganapathy, head of community outreach, Embassy Group.
Effects of protein imbalance
While excess protein intake may impose a metabolic burden on the bones, kidneys, and liver, protein deficiency can wreak havoc on your body. Protein deficiency is seen as a condition called Kwashiorkor in children, and Marasmus in both children and adults. “In Kwashiorkor, children show signs of fluid retention, oedema and fatty liver. In Marasmus, there is extreme emaciation and prolonged negative energy balance leading to fat exhaustion and wasting of muscles. Organs such as heart, liver, lungs and kidneys are compromised in their functions due to the short supply of protein synthesis and more tissue breakdown,” says Karthiyayini Mahadevan, head – wellness and well-being at Columbia Pacific Communities.
What’s good protein, and what’s bad
According to health experts, there is no such thing as bad protein. However, excessive intake of some foods such as red meat, and dairy products such as cheese can be harmful to your health. “The unnecessary calories and saturated fats they contain are also not good for your body,” opines Shaina.
Mahadevan adds that protein loaded with sodium, chemical additives or sugar should best be avoided. “It’s found in junk food, preserved and processed meat, unnaturally bred poultry and cattle treated with hormone injections and antibiotics for commercial sale. These items are loaded with unhealthy protein which can harm the body,” she says.
What’s best for daily consumption
Eggs, lentils/dals, almonds, paneer/tofu, curd, milk and peanuts are a few examples of foods that are rich sources of protein and can be consumed on a daily basis, say health experts.
Mahadevan says that an important factor to be considered in assessing the value of proteins in a food item is its digestibility. “Whey protein is very rich in essential amino acids and easily digestible for elders. Whey (residual water after having split the milk for making cottage cheese) can be used to knead wheat, jowar or rice flour to make rotis. For a growing child, sprouted ragi, along with sprouted chickpeas, green gram and peanuts can be ground and made into a healthy mix, and given as a drink. To make food easily liked by children, a midday snack with good protein sources such as sprouted dal vadas, or boiled chickpeas can be made,” she says.
While health experts suggest that the daily requirement of protein is generally between 0.7 -1 gm/kg, it is always better to meet the daily recommended protein allowance shared between breakfast and lunch. Dinner, if chosen with less protein, will help sleep well.

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