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The Powers of PROTEIN-Part I – March 2004

Did you know that PROTEIN is second in composition after water within the body?
In fact, protein composes 85% of our body and is therefore an essential component to functioning properly and ensuring good nutrition. Many examples exist of the functions of protein within the body. Proteins are the primary  component of structural integrity of body tissues such as muscles, skin, hair, nails, eyes, and internal organs (especiallythe heart muscle and brain). The immune system requires protein for antibody formation. The protein  hemoglobin performs the transportation of oxygen within the blood to tissues. Many hormones are proteins, for example thyroid hormone or insulin from the pancreas. Proteins make a variety of enzymes that promote the thousands of biochemical reactions necessary for the proper functioning of the body.

Proteins are made of chains of amino acids. The digestive process metabolises protein, breaking it down into individual links of amino acids. The body then utilises these amino acids in ways vital for life by using a sole amino acid or linking the amino acids into different formations making the new proteins necessary (such as hormones, muscles, skin, etc.). Genes within your DNA encode for particular patterns of amino acids to make proteins. The body does not store extra amino acids (as it does fat), other than in tissue proteins. The body will make the proteins it needs for life as long as ample levels of all essential amino acids are obtained within the diet. It only takes lacking one amino acid to throw the body out of balance. Therefore, if we do not meet our daily requirements, the body will destroy its own muscles to supply its protein needs.

Twenty-two amino acids exist naturally within nature. These are split into categories of essential and non-essential amino acids. There are eight essential amino acids that the body requires from the diet because it is not able to
synthesize these on its own. The essential amino acids are: isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine.
When people talk about eating complete proteins, it is in regard to obtaining all eight of these essential amino acids. Non-essential amino acids are given this title because the body is able to produce them on its own through the conversions of essential amino acids. This is not possible, however, if the diet is lacking the essential amino acids OR the nutrients required to aid the conversion of the essential to non-essential amino acids. For example, the liver (where most conversions take place) requires vitamin B6 for many of its amino acid conversions or vitamin A is required by the body to utilise protein.

Each of the individual amino acids has important roles within the body.
A few examples follow:
Isoleucine is found in high concentrations within muscles and produces compounds necessary in energy production.
Methionine is necessary for skin and nail growth.
Phenylalanine is one of the few amino acids with the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier and therefore directly affect brain chemistry. It is a precursor to the amino acid tyrosine (a non-essential amino acid essential to produce adrenaline and thyroid hormone).
Tryptophan is a precursor for a vital neurotransmitter, serotonin, influencing mood and sleep. It requires vitamins B6, C, folic acid, and magnesium to be metabolised.
Histidine is involved in several processes of blood cells and histamines (involved in allergic and inflammatory reactions).
Glutamine & Glutamic Acid are precursors to a major neurotransmitter. Glutamine is important fuel for cells of the bowels.

Deficiencies of protein may present itself by physical signs of the body. Some of these signals include: dry, cracking, brittle, easily breaking, ridged or splitting nails; skin conditions such as excessive dryness; dry and brittle hair; hair loss; inability to heal wounds; or weight loss.
Deficiencies of protein may also present as physical symptoms such as fatigue, muscle weakness, fluid retention, or even anxiety and depression.
Commonly, people with a low protein intake can be low in iron and vitamin B12 since these nutrients are often found within the same food sources and many of the same symptoms exist.
Protein is a major stabiliser of glucose along with the glucose tolerance factor (Vitamin B3, chromium, and 3 amino acids (glutamic acid, glycine and cysteine)). A high protein breakfast and lunch will help stabilise one's blood glucose and therefore energy levels throughout the day. Give it a try! Many people are trying high protein diets with success, whether the theories are exactly right or not...overall people are feeling better. Could an improved protein intake be a contributor?
After all, it is 85% of one's body!

Next month's newsletter will continue with part II regarding protein and an explanation of COMPLETE or COMPLEMENTARY PROTEINS and protein values & guidelines.

We'd like to welcome our newest co-operative member, Eroica. (Pronounced like heroic without the "h" and add "a" at the end). And since everyone is wondering the origin of her is latin for heroic Beethoven's third
symphony. Her blend of enthusiasm, calmness and sense of humour is loved around here!
As you may have noticed, recent months is seeing Piko the busiest ever! We greatly thank you for your patience as we try to find the balance of extra staffing required to make things run as smoothly as possible in our confined spaces. On that note, the next year may see Piko doing some renovations to help our space issues. We are aware many of our customers have sensitivities to strong odours or chemicals used in these processes. We are now making a list of any customers with sensitivities so that we may ring and forewarn you of any potential problems. We'd like to send a sincere apology to any customers who may have been offended by the smells of the new shelving. Please let us know if this affects you and you would like your name added to this list!

What's new at Piko?
Herb seedlings- medicinal, fragrant and culinary herbs; $3.77 each (above apple shelf)
Sheeps cheeses-two varieties now available, potentially more coming! Check out the fridge!
Zenzo tofu patties-certified Bio-Gro, NZ made $5.89-$7.37 (in the fridge)

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