In this day and age of soaring medical care costs where people need more medical intervention to help in the treatment of sickness, it is important than ever that we focus on how to prevent the body from falling apart.
How can we prevent such illnesses as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer from attacking the body?
The core problem is overall good health and good nutrition. Good nutrition is where it all starts, carries on and ends.
In daily life the body needs energy to function smoothly. Foods that are rich in protein yet low in fats and cholesterol are ideal. Carbohydrates provide energy but too much slows the body down.
Vitamins and minerals are required in much smaller quantities for a variety of specific functions. Last but not least is water, which is a vital constituent of the diet.
Moderating the amounts of what you eat, sticking to eating wholesome foods, get plenty of exercise, then the body can look after itself and do its job properly. This will ward off illness and prevent disease like nobody’s business.
Let us go a little further into the usefulness of proteins at a time when good nutrition is being spoken about widely these days.
Protein is one of the most important nutrients. The growing child requires an abundant supply of proteins to provide the building blocks (amino acids) from which new tissue protein is formed. Adults need protein to make up for the good tissue lost by wear and tear, to build up new tissue protein after a wasting illness and to supply amino acids required for the synthesis of enzymes and certain hormones.
Proteins of high and low biological value are known as “first” and “second” class proteins respectively. The terms “first” and “second” class are generally equated with animal and vegetable proteins respectively. Some books refer to ‘first’ class proteins as ‘complete proteins’ while ‘second’ class proteins are identified as incomplete proteins.”
Dietary protein is broken down into the constituent amino acids by enzyme activity in the digestive tract. These amino acids are absorbed from the small intestine into the blood stream. Each growing cell removes the appropriate amino acids from the blood for the synthesis of its own cell protein. The surplus amino acids are broken down by the liver. About 20 different amino acids are found in body proteins. These proteins are extremely complex molecules and composed of thousands of amino acid and unites in various combinations.
Nine of the amino acids are essential and therefore they must be constituents of the dietary proteins. Otherwise, growth and repair of tissue will cease. The remaining amino acids may be ingested and used, if not present in the diet. They will be made by the body when required. However, the body is unable to manufacture the “essential amino acids” in sufficient quantities to satisfy its needs. All the “essential amino acids” must be circulating at the same time and should be present in the diet eaten at one meal. All proteins from animal sources (including fish) contain the “essential amino acids.” There are vegetable proteins which may be relatively deficient in one or more of the “essential amino acids.”
It is now clear that proteins of high biological value supply all the “essential amino acids” in approximately the optimal proportions and are capable of supporting life. It is important to note that most animal proteins, with the exception of gelatin, fall into this category. Most plant proteins, on the other hand, are of low biological value. Unusually, it is recommended that at least 30 percent of proteins in a mixed diet should be of animal origin.
It has been found that the following nine “essential amino acids”, viz. valine, leucine, histidine, isoleucine, threonine, methionine, phenylalanine, tryptophan and lysine are indispensable from human adults under normal conditions. Exclusion of any one of these “essential amino acids” leads to fatigue, loss of appetite and nervous irritability. When the missing amino acid is added to the diet, perfect health is promptly restored.
By dietary studies in man, it has been found that the nine essential amino acids are needed for the maintenance of nitrogen balance in the body. The position of histidine and arginine is less clear. They are not necessary for nitrogen equilibrium but their absence may have specific effects. The absence of argnine from the diet is followed by a reduction in the number of spermatozoa in the seminal plasma. Malignant tumours also continue to grow in animals fed on protein-free diets. A serious disease known as Kwashiorkor or due to deficiency of protein affects millions of young children in the tropics.
So if one were to give up eating “first” class proteins, one’s supply of the “essential amino acids” is cut off. This loss cannot be replenished by a choosing vegetarian diet.
Dr. M.I.M. Zaheer
T20 World Cup