Kate’s Health Corner: For the Love of Nutrition

The Power of Protein

Protein is any of various naturally occurring extremely complex substances that consist of amino-acid residues joined by peptide bonds, contain the elements carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, usually sulfur, and occasionally other elements (such as phosphorus or iron), and include many essential biological compounds (such as enzymes, hormones, or antibodies). (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

How Does Your Body Use Proteins?

Your body is a wonderful piece of machinery! It works with all its parts to work and do wonderful things. Proteins are only one of so many sources you need to keep all your parts running properly! Proteins help to build new cells, maintain tissues, and synthesize new proteins that make it possible for you to perform basic bodily functions.

Proteins also help with your hair, nails and outer layers of your skin. The outer layer of your skin is made of keratin, a scleroprotein or a protein resistant to digestive enzymes, so if you bite your nails, you can not digest them.

Your muscle tissue contains myosin, actin, myoglobin and a number of proteins.

Bone’s outer layer is hardened with minerals such as calcium, while the rubbery inner layer is protein and bone marrow; the soft material inside the bone is also rich in protein.

Red blood cells contain hemoglobin, a protein compound that carries oxygen throughout the body. Plasma, the clear fluid in your blood, contains fat and protein particle know as lipoproteins, which ferry cholesterol around and out of the body.

About half the dietary protein that you consume each day goes into making enzymes. Your ability to see, think, hear and move requires your nerve cells to send messages back and forth to each other and to other specialized kinds of cells, such as muscles cells. Sending these kinds of messages requires chemicals called neurotransmitters. Making neurotransmitters requires PROTEINS!

How Does the Protein You Eat Get to Your Cells?

Proteins from foods are broken into their component amino acids by digestive enzymes which are of course, specialized proteins. Then other enzymes in your body cells build new proteins by reassembling amino acids into compounds that your body needs to function. This process is called protein synthesis. During the protein synthesis the amino acids hook onto fats to form lipoproteins or they may even join up with carbohydrates to form the glycoproteins found in the mucus secretes by the digestive tract. Proteins combine with phosphoric acid to produce phosphoproteins, such as casein, and a protein in milk. Nucleic acids combine with proteins to create nucleophlasm, the living material inside each cell.

High and Low Quality Proteins

An animal’s body is similar to ours; its proteins contain similar combinations of amino acids. Meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and dairy products are considered high quality proteins. Our bodies absorb these proteins more efficiently. The proteins from plants such as grains, fruit, vegetables, legumes (beans), nuts, and seeds often have limited amounts of some essential amino acids, which means their nutritional content is not as high as animal proteins.

Complete and Incomplete Proteins

Another great way to describe the quality of proteins is to say that they are either complete or incomplete. A complete protein is one that contains ample amounts of all essential amino acids, while an incomplete protein does not. A protein low in one specific amino acid is called a limiting protein because it can build only as much tissue as the smallest amount of the necessary amino acids. You can improve by eating it along with one that contains sufficient amounts of the limited amino acid. If you wanted the values of protein in literally thousands of servings and foods check out the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard References.

Fun Fact

Do athletes need more protein than the rest of us? Recent research suggests that the answer is yes, but athletes easily meet their requirements simply by eating more food, not necessarily increasing the amount of any specific food.

Facing Fats and Cholesterol

Another name for Cholesterol is lipids, from the Greek word Lipos which means fat. Liquid fats are called oils; solid fats are called, simply, fats; and the fat in food is called dietary fats. Dietary fats are sources of energy that add flavor to foods. Sadly, this tasty nutrient may also be hazardous to your health. The trick is to separate the good from the bad. A healthy body needs fats to build the body tissues and manufacture biochemicals such as hormones. Some of the adipose (fatty) tissue in your body is plain to see. For example, even though your skin covers it, you can see the fat deposits in female’s breasts, hips, thighs, buttocks, and belly, or on the male abdomen and shoulders. Foods contain three kinds of fats: triglycerides, phospholipids, and sterols. All fats in foods are combinations of fatty acids. Fats are classified as saturated or unsaturated depending on how many hydrogen atoms are attached to the carbon atoms in the chain. The more hydrogen atoms there are, the more saturated the fatty acid is. Depending on which fatty acids predominate, a food fat is likewise characterized as saturated, monounsaturated, or polyunsaturated.

Healthy bodies need cholesterol. Look carefully and you will find cholesterol in and around your cells, in your fatty tissue, in your organs, in your brain, and in your glands.


Protects the integrity of cell membranes
Helps nerve cells to send messages back and forth
Is a building block for vitamin D
Enables your gallbladder to make bile acids, digestive chemical that in turn enables you to absorb fats
Is a base on which you build steroid hormones such as estrogen and testosterone

Cholesterol and Diet

Most of the cholesterol that you need is made right in your own liver, which churns out about 1 gram a day from the raw material in the proteins, fats, and carbohydrates that you consume. But you also get cholesterol from food of animal origin: meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products. Although some plant foods such as coconut and cocoa bean are high in saturated fats, no plants produce cholesterol.

New Exercise

Squats: How to Do A Squat?

Place feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart, hips stacked over knees, knees over ankles.

Roll the shoulders back and down away from the ears. Note: Allowing the back to round (like a turtle’s shell) will cause unnecessary stress on the lower back.

Extend the arms out straight so they are parallel with the ground, palms facing down (like your hands are on someone’s shoulders at a 7th grade dance). Or, if it’s more comfortable, pull the elbows close to the body, palms facing each other and thumbs pointing up.

Initiate movement by inhaling into the belly, and unlocking the hips, slightly bringing them back. Keep sending hips backward as the knees begin to bend.

While the butt starts to stick out, make sure the chest and shoulders stay upright, and the back stays straight. Keep the head facing forward with eyes straight ahead for a neutral spine.

Let the hip joint squat lower to the ground than the knees, if comfortable. Pro tip: Try squatting onto a box or chair.

Engage the core, and exhale while driving through the heels to return to standing. Imagine the feet are spreading the floor (the left foot to the left, right foot to the right) without actually moving the feet.


“Those who think they have not time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness.” ~Edward Stanley

Recipe: Strawberry Shortcake

1 Tablespoon Calorie Free sweetener
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 cup orange juice
1/4 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
1 1/2 cups sliced fresh strawberries (about 1 pint)
6 spongecake dessert shells (5-ounce package)

Combine sweetener and cornstarch in a small saucepan. Stir in orange juice. Bring to a boil; cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute or until mixture is thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat, and stir in extract. Cool completely.
Combine orange juice mixture and strawberries in a bowl; stir gently. Cover and chill 30 minutes.
To serve, spoon sauce over dessert shells.
Tip: This luscious sauce is also good spooned over no-sugar-added ice cream, angel food cake, or fat-free pound cake.

Question for reader: How can you improve YOUR health?

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