Protein: Much More than a Smoothie Mix-In

When most of us think of protein, we immediately think of muscle building and whey powder. Though most Americans meet the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA), it’s important to make sure you get a healthy balance of plant and animal proteins. This balance helps the well-known macronutrient play a major role in many essential body functions. Here are three reasons to make sure you’re keeping up your protein intake!

Uncommonly Known Functions of Protein in the Body
1. Nerve Impulse

During digestion, proteins are broken down into their building blocks--amino acids. These amino acids are crucial in the construction of neurotransmitters, which are the chemicals that send messages between nerve cells. Though neurotransmitters play a role in almost every action that occurs within the body, two of the most commonly mentioned neurotransmitters are epinephrine and norepinephrine, both of which help regulate sleep cycles.

2. Connective Tissues

Protein is most abundant in the body in the form of collagen, the primary component of connective tissue responsible for flexible movements and maintaining the shape and elasticity of our skin. Without collagen, we might literally melt into the ground like a cartoon due to lack of support for our organs and other body tissues.

3. Electrolyte and Fluid Balance

Though there are several components that affect electrolyte and fluid balance, protein is one that is often not considered. In order to maintain a proper fluid to electrolyte balance, protein draws fluid and keeps it flowing within our bodies’ cells and bloodstream. Without adequate protein intake, there is not enough of a drawing force to keep fluids moving and in balance throughout the body.

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