Protein: The stuff life is made of
Protein supplies the most important building blocks of our body. It is made up of 22 different amino acids, 8 of which are essential; that is, they must be supplied to the body because the body cannot produce all amino acids itself.
The 8 essential amino acids
In infants, the amino acids arginine and histidine are also essential.
Important non-essential amino acids
- Glutamic acid
- Aspartic acid
- Arginine (semi-essential)
- Histidine (semi-essential)
All amino acids consist of the same components. In the middle of the molecule there is a carbon atom (C). Four different groups are attached to this C-atom:
- an NH2 group called the amino group
- a COOH group called the carboxyl group
- a hydrogen atom
- a remainder, which is differently structured and therefore represents the only differentiation of the 20 different amino acids
Protein is found in animal products such as meat, fish, eggs and dairy products, but also in plant foods such as legumes, nuts, whole grains, soya and mushrooms. Often, however, the body cannot absorb the individual amino acids from food, or only a fraction of them, because meat, in particular, as a source of protein is often associated with large amounts of fat. Fat blocks the rapid absorption of valuable amino acids from the gastrointestinal tract. Therefore, protein products, especially if they contain essential amino acids, can be a useful dietary supplement.
Included among the most important amino acids:
Phenylalanine plays a role in creating feelings of optimism, creativity and euphoria. It is the most important building block for such hormones as noradrenaline, which makes us feel optimistic; ACTH, which makes us feel creative; and beta-endorphin, which makes us feel euphoric. This amino acid is also called "the body's own drug."
Tryptophan is the most important building block for the happiness hormone serotonin. Serotonin not only makes you happy, but it also creates a feeling of inner peace, serenity and autonomy.
Lysine and Arginine
Lysine and Arginine are the decisive building blocks for the human growth hormone (HGH). HGH decreases steadily after the 20th year of life and is hardly detectable at the age of 60. While increasing levels of growth hormone can keep us young, dynamic and powerful, there is caution regarding HGH supplementation, as the side effects have not yet been researched. Regardless, there is no reason why the body should not be given more of the HGH-building amino acids which body can itself produce.