Are you having enormous hair fall, does your skin feel flaky, are you having muscular pain, do you fall sick often, does it take time for your injuries to heal -- these could be the signs of protein deficiency. Known as building blocks of organs, muscles, skin and hormones, consuming the requisite amount of protein is essential for survival.
Since the Indian diet is carbohydrates-heavy, it isn’t uncommon for Indians to suffer from protein deficiency. The Indian Council of Medical Research recommends 48 gms of protein per day. However, 73% of Indians have a protein deficiency, as per a 2017 study.
In recent times, protein is understood to be important for those who work out, as it reduces muscle soreness and promotes muscle repair. However, the macronutrient does much more than that and impacts almost every part of the body.
And this is what happens when you don’t eat enough of it:
Hair fall and flaky skin
The skin contains proteins called elastin and collagen and hair contains keratin. When your body doesn’t get enough protein, it rations the existing stock, by cutting down its supply to the hair, leading to hair fall.
Skin goes through depigmentation, it turns flaky and nails get brittle.
Less alert and focused
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Do you feel sleepy after your carbs-rich Indian meal? This is because carbohydrates contain tryptophan, an amino acid that leads to the production of serotonin, the hormone that helps in sleeping.
On the other hand, protein contains tyrosine, the amino acid that helps to be alert, attentive and focused.
Our brains contain neurotransmitters, chemicals that transfer information between cells. These neurotransmitters are made up of amino acids, which are also the building blocks of protein.
Thus, if you don’t have enough protein on your plate, this can have a massive impact on how your brain works, even leaving you depressed or aggressive.
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Injuries take a longer time to heal
It’s often seen among those who are protein deficient that their injuries take longer to heal. The same is true in the case of workout-related mishaps, such as sprains and injuries.
Muscles are the body’s largest reservoir of proteins. When it doesn’t get it from the diet, it uses the stock from skeletal muscles for important bodily functions that lead to muscle wasting over time.
Our immune system is what protects us from infections. This fact has gained great prominence during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A sufficient protein intake is crucial for a strong immune system and the deficiency of it can compromise the body’s disease-fighting strength.
If you eat in between meals, fill this with protein as it helps you feel fuller.
This is partly because this macronutrient lowers the level of ghrelin, the hunger hormone and boosts peptide YY, the hormone that makes us feel fuller.
Foods rich in protein
For a sufficient protein intake, you can consume several protein-rich foods in your diet, such as:
- Poultry such as chicken, duck and turkey
- Fish and seafoods such as prawns, crabs, lobsters
- Dairies such as milk, curd, paneer and cheese
Protein options for vegetarians and vegans
Vegetarians and vegans often struggle with finding protein options in their diet. However, there are several options available, such as:
- Beans such as red-kidney beans (rajma) and black-eyed beans
- Chia seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
Just like protein deficiency has negative impacts on health, so does loading up on it. A well-balanced nutritious diet with the required amount of the three macronutrients, fats, proteins and carbohydrates, is the key.
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