There are various functions of proteins for the body, ranging from energy sources ¸ forming various enzymes and hormones, to supporting the immune system. Therefore, ensuring that your daily protein needs are adequately met is an important thing.
Just like fats and carbohydrates, protein is one of the nutrients that the body needs in large amounts. When you consume foods that contain protein, the digestive system breaks down proteins into amino acids that are needed in almost every part of the body.
Some amino acids can be produced by the body itself, but some can only be obtained from food. Therefore, the body still needs the addition of protein from the food consumed so that the protein function in the body can function optimally.
Various Functions of Protein
Here are the various benefits and functions of protein for the body, namely:
1. As a source of energy
Protein is one of the important sources of energy for the body in addition to fats and carbohydrates. Same with carbohydrates, protein contains 4 calories per gram, while fat provides more energy, which is 9 calories / gram.
In processing food for energy sources, the body will use carbohydrates and fats first. Meanwhile, the protein will be stored as a backup and used when the body really needs it, for example when you fast for up to 18–48 hours without food intake.
Long-term protein deficiency can lead to kwashiorkor and protein-energy malnutrition.
2. Build and repair body tissues
Protein is a “brick” that plays a major role in shaping almost every part of our body, such as muscles and bones, heart, lungs, brain, skin and hair. Not only that, protein is also responsible for maintaining and replacing damaged tissues in the body.
Under normal circumstances, the amount of protein used to build and repair body tissues will be the same each day. However, there are some conditions that cause the body to need more protein, namely when there is new tissue growth or when protein breakdown occurs more, for example in pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, or in people who are sick.
3. Form antibodies
Protein helps the body form immunoglobulins, commonly known as antibodies. Antibodies play an important role in fighting bacterial or viral infections. In addition, antibodies also help the body to prevent the occurrence of diseases from the same bacteria or virus later.
Once your body produces antibodies to certain bacteria or viruses, the immune cells in the body will never forget how to reproduce it. So, if the bacteria or virus later attacks again, your body will be able to fight it faster.
4. Form enzymes and hormones
Enzymes are a type of protein found in cells. Enzymes are responsible for many biochemical reactions that occur in the body, such as muscle contraction, destroying toxins, and digesting food.
In addition to enzymes, proteins also make up most of the hormones in the body. Hormones are responsible for transmitting signals and regulating biological processes between cells, tissues, and organs. An example is the hormone insulin that sends signals and regulates the process of sugar entry into the body’s cells.
In addition to the above functions, there are many other protein functions that the body desperately needs, such as balancing the pH and amount of fluid in the blood, storing the body’s nutritional reserves, and being a means of transport for chemical compounds to pass through the bloodstream.
Recommended Protein Sources
To get adequate protein intake, you are advised to consume high protein foods, both from vegetable and animal sources. Examples of animal protein sources are various types of seafood that are also rich in omega 3 and 6, such as abalone and fish, lean chicken, eggs, and lean beef.
Other protein sources such as soybeans, peas, and dairy products such as cheese and yogurt can also be an option so that protein function can work to the maximum.
The function of protein for the body is very important to maintain so that the function of the body as a whole can function well as well. The trick is to meet your daily protein intake. But remember, excessive protein consumption is also not recommended as it can cause side effects.