Protein forms one of the three macronutrient groups of food consumed by humans. Proteins are made of amino acids and once ingested are broken down back to amino acids which are easier to digest. Protein is found throughout the body in virtually all organs. This is because it serves as the primary substrate for all structural functions in the body. It is found in muscles, liver, skin, nails and even hair.
It is surprising that one molecule can be responsible for such a wide range of structures. This ranges from the softest and smallest such as sperms and cell walls to the hardest and toughest such as the keratin on toenails. Most of the enzymes used in the human body are made from proteins. Proteins can be acquired from animal products such as milk and meat but can also be got from plants such as legumes.
The widespread use of protein in the body makes the benefits of proteins uncountable. This includes use in healing of tissues. Both in trauma and in catabolic diseases that lead to wasting, protein is needed for the step by step construction of tissue to replace the diseased ones. This explains why a high protein diet is recommended in patients with burns and those who have had lean muscle wasting. The same explanation is used to warrant the need for increased consumption when one undertakes an intense workout routine or when one wants to bulk up their muscles.
They are beneficial in maintaining a good immune system. This is because antibodies, the cornerstone of immunity, are made from protein. Other benefits include, better functioning of the brain and nervous tissue, signal transduction including absorption of minerals and substances into the cells and lengthening the life span.
For use in body building, a high dietary demand is paramount. Combined with a high intense exercise routine, the protein provides a substrate for muscle hypertrophy which is required with the work load. Protein supplements are sold for the higher protein content they provide in smaller servings, allowing for more intakes.
Despite the numerous benefits of proteins, there are adverse effects associated with consumption of proteins. This is however mostly more of a quality rather than quantity effect. For example, consumption of red meat is associated with cardiovascular effects that are harmful.
All in all, proteins are crucial and of value for the good health of the human body.