What is protein?
Thursday, September 20, 2012 @ 04:09 PM Sunwarrior
What is protein? Do I really need it? How much? What does a monkey look like if he doesn’t get enough protein? These questions will all be answered in a fun new video for all our Sunwarriors out there. What is Protein is a fairly short (4:49) whiteboard animation featuring protein and what sets Sunwarrior apart from the rest. Watch mesmerizing hand-drawn characters come to life before your eyes. We’re excited to share it.
Protein is the most abundant molecule, apart from water, in the body. We always think of muscle when we talk of protein and amino acids, but these essential building blocks are used in every cell throughout the body.
Protein facilitates digestion and the absorption of nutrients. It helps carry these nutrients into cells. It removes waste and toxins. Protein combines with vitamins and minerals to move oxygen from the lungs to the cells that desperately need it to survive and to allow proteins to act as antioxidants, cleaning up free radicals that do cellular damage and contribute to aging. Protein aids the immune system in recognizing and removing threats to our health and wellness. Protein even goes into hormones our bodies use to balance and regulate hundreds of systems and functions, from blood sugar to emotions.
Protein can be this extremely versatile molecule thanks to what goes into it and how it is made. The body synthesizes proteins from amino acids, forming them into long chains. Some of these amino acids can be made by the body and some must come from diet. These chains can then twist and fold into unique shapes with practically endless possibilities in the chain combinations, the twists, the folds, and also in function. The bonds in these chains make protein very strong and elastic, like a spring, perfect for muscles and enzymes that need to move, shift, and react.
Proteins do have a weakness though. Their kryptonite: heat. Heat breaks the bonds that hold the twists and folds together, destroying any abilities that protein might have once had. Many of the enzymes we eat in food help break down other proteins during digestion and also make many vitamins and minerals easier to absorb, but cooking removes these benefits. Heat can also create cross bonding between proteins where denatured chains randomly link to other chains. These cross bound proteins are harder to digest and put to use, so many of the amino acids are lost to the body and discarded as waste.
There are other problems with the protein we eat. Since the body doesn’t store amino acids, we do need a daily supply, but too much can be harmful. Excessive protein bogs down digestion, can supply way more calories than we need, and do harm to the liver and kidneys. Too little is also a problem, making us weak and more susceptible to disease and illness.