First, a quick repetition in biology: Amino acids are the basic components that give rise to complex proteins (proteins).
The roles of proteins
- Enzymes (speed up chemical processes)
- Immune system (in the form of antibodies),
- Transport (proteins transport other molecules e.g. hemoglobin for oxygen)
- Hormones (signaling substances in the blood),
- Neurotransmitters (chemical messengers between neurons)
- Energy (converts into blood sugar)
- Structure (foundation for cells, organs and connective tissue)
In order for our body to assemble perfect proteins (protein synthesis), 20 amino acids need to be present at the same time. (Newer sources speak of 22 amino acids.) I assume everyone is familiar with the principle, like for instance: Any IKEA furniture is only complete if all required parts are present at the time of assembly.
The 20 amino acids are divided into
- 10 essential (have to come from food) and
- 10 non-essential (can be created by the body. IF the required co-factors are present, like enough vitamin B6).
If only one amino acid is short on supply, this will restrict the quality and function of the proteins produced. Such incomplete proteins are a great risk to health in the long run.
So how do I provide all the required amino acids at the right time?
Complete protein sources (contain all the essential amino acids)
- (dairy products *)
- (soy *)
Incomplete protein sources (one or more essential amino acids are missing)
- (grains *)
In this regard, meat makes getting the job done a little easier. If you don’t eat any food from the complete category, you need to carefully mix various of the incomplete sources daily to ensure optimal protein synthesis. (E.g. eat rice and beans at the same meal).
* I recommend to avoid the foods set in parentheses. (insulin, blood sugar, phytoestorgen, etc.)
To find out more, read following two posts:
The Top 3 Best Superfoods To Eat Every Day
Revealed: The 3 Absolute Worst Foods You Should Not Eat
Meat does not provide the ‘better’ protein, but a more complete one. If you don’t eat complete proteins, you should carefully arrange your meals to compensate for such disadvantage.
Of course, the real food rules apply to both types, animal and plant foods: grown or raised under sustainable, ethical and humane farming standards as well as free of toxins and other residues.