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Curtis Harwell Discusses Everything You Need To Know About Protein

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What is Protein?

See also: What is Fibre?

The word ‘protein’ refers to a type of molecule in food that can be broken down into amino acids. The body needs twenty amino acids - as a biological machine it can create (or synthesize) eleven of these itself.  However there are nine, called ‘essential amino acids’ that the body cannot create and has to gain through the consumption of food. 

These ‘essential amino acids’ are: Tryptophan, Threonine, Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, Valine and Histidine.  

When we eat, the body breaks down the protein in food in order to create the amino acids that it needs.

Although most foods contain protein some foods are richer in some of the essential amino acids than others. Usually, therefore, foods need to be combined so that the body receives all the amino acids it needs on a daily basis – part of the reason that a varied, balanced diet is essential to us.  For example, if you ate only blueberries you may start to lack the Tryptophan, Lysine and Histidine that your body needs - introducing some meat and/or cheese into your diet would help to address these deficiencies.

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