Why protein can keep you healthier, fitter and happier.
We’ve known for a few years now that protein is not just for bodybuilders. Along with the explosion in veganism over the last few years, the protein trend is also unstoppable because of its role as an important source of the nutrients you require to stay in tip-top health. We’re here to tell you why protein is so beneficial for your health and how to incorporate more plant-based proteins into your diet – great for your tastebuds, better for your health and kinder to the planet, too.
- Repair: protein is essential for growth and maintenance of our cells and tissues.
- Build: we need to eat 0.8 to 1 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight to support muscle mass.
- Oxygenate, digest and regulate: protein supports essential body processes.
- Eat: plants are a fantastic source of protein!
- Cook: it’s easy to incorporate plant-based protein into your diet.
What is protein?
Although most of us believe protein is the body’s ‘building blocks’, used for growing muscle or helping to repair it after a long session lifting weights at the gym, it actually does way more. In fact, it’s essential for life and supplies the 20 different amino acids needed for the growth and maintenance of our cells and tissues. Think of amino acids as important chemical messengers: attached to one another in long chains, the sequence in which the different amino acids are arranged helps determine the role of that particular protein for all your essential body functions.
Why do I need protein?
Everyone needs protein every day. Studies by the European Food Information Council (EUFIC) have proven that you need to eat 0.8 to 1 gram of complete protein per kilogram of body weight. As we get older, we require even more protein to support muscle mass.
What does protein do?
So much cool stuff! OK, deep breath. Protein …
- … provides the amino acids that enable neurotransmitters in the brain to synthesise chemicals such as serotonin – our happy hormone – and dopamine, which is in charge of reward and motivation.
- … makes up the enzymes that control every chemical reaction in the body, such as detoxification in the liver and digestion in the gut.
- … masquerades as hormones! Many of our hormones, such as insulin, which allows your body to use glucose for energy, and progesterone, which plays an important role in the menstrual cycle, are in fact proteins.
- … boosts your immune system, one of the body’s most intricate and complex systems. It plays host to a multitude of different cells, molecules and chemical messengers that work together to defend the body against infection and keep you well. Research has shown that protein deficiency compromises the immune system and can deplete immune cells.
- … helps create haemoglobin, a protein that transports blood around the body.
- … contributes to healthy skin, hair and nails. Did you know that collagen – the stuff that keeps your skin looking plump and youthful – is a protein? Our bones, cartilage and many other structures of the body are made up of different proteins, namely collagen, elastin and keratin.
- … keeps you fuller for longer, because it changes the levels of several satiety hormones, which means you’re less likely to snack on unhealthy foods to keep your energy levels up.
What foods are high in protein?
Protein can be found in both plant and animal-based foods, but until fairly recently, western culture associated protein with meat, fish and dairy products. However, plant-based proteins are not just for vegans or vegetarians! Replacing some (or all) animal protein in the diet with plant-based protein options can provide awesome health benefits. Here are seven reasons we love plant protein:
- The huge variety of nutrients: plants contain high levels of minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and other phytochemicals, which act as antioxidants and are crucial for preventing oxidative stress to our cells and DNA.
- It’s less acidic. The human body’s pH level plays an important role in overall function and health. Plant foods have a higher pH, and are naturally alkaline, which reduces chronic inflammation that can cause DNA damage and lead to cancer.
- It’s low in cholesterol and saturated fat and high in heart-healthy plant sterols – compounds that help block your body from absorbing cholesterol, according to the Canadian Journal of Cardiology.
- It’s high in fibre. Feeding our “good” gut bugs the fibrous foods help them survive and proliferate. This impacts on our gut health, which can even affect our mental health.
- It avoids the additional hormones and antibiotics that find their way into meat through industrial animal farming.
- It’s environmentally friendly. Eating plants – instead of eating animals who eat plants – cuts out the enormous environmental burden that goes along with animal agriculture, such as the huge consumption of land and water and the production of greenhouse gasses.
- It lowers the risk of health problems. Research has shown that eating a plant-based diet includes a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and some types of cancers, as well as benefits for weight management.
How to eat more plant-based protein
Make sure you get all those essential amino acids by incorporating more plant-based protein into your diet. Try these tips:
- Sprinkle seeds on your cereal, porridge and salads.
- Include nut and seed butters in salad dressings, soups, dips and sauces.
- Eat plant-protein snacks, such as nut butter on rice cakes or toast, crudites and hummus or delicious BodyMe Organic Vegan Protein Bites and Bars – ideal when on the move.
- Whizz up a smoothie with BodyMe Organic Vegan Protein Powder or even add to sauces for an added protein boost – discover more mouthwatering recipes here.
BodyMe Vegan Protein Powder Blends, Bars and Bites are made with certified organic ingredients with no added nonsense, fillers, binders, preservatives, GMOs or gluten – just simple, understandable real food ingredients. Find all our certified organic vegan protein products in our online shop.