6-8 minute Read
Written by naturopath and nutritionist Emma Gibson, at Nala Natural Medicine and Nutrition.
Macronutrients are substances that we need in large amounts, from our diet, to fuel our brain and body’s basic functions. There are three macronutrients in our food; carbohydrates, fats, and protein. Let’s zoom in on PROTEIN, why it’s so important, and explore some great ways to prioritise and optimise intake.
Protein is made up of amino acids, substances that literally become part of us! For example, amino acids from the food we eat go on to...
Help create the cells of our immune system, assisting in defence against coughs and colds
Help make our neurotransmitters which influence our mood, emotions, and how we feel in ourselves
Be used to make hormones and enzymes, involved in endless internal body processes
Help to stabilise blood sugar and support a sense of satiety, influencing our food choices throughout the day
And of course, they help build your muscles, providing you with the strength to carry your shopping, lift your little ones, and move in whatever way you choose
Essential vs. Non-Essential Amino Acids
There are 20 amino acids in total, 9 of which are considered ‘essential’. The term ‘essential’ means that the body cannot create them itself from other substances, so we need to consume these through our diet.
Complete vs. Incomplete & Complementing Proteins
When a protein source contains all of the essential amino acids, it is considered ‘complete’ and this is typically true for animal-based proteins, including Bone Broth.
Most plant sources of protein are ‘incomplete’, meaning they don’t contain all of the essential amino acids. However, different plant sources can be combined to complete their ‘amino acid profile’. This is because the amino acid lacking in one plant protein family is likely to be higher in another. For example, adding sunflower seeds to a lentil dish, tahini to a chickpea hummus, OR having rice with a bean based meal.
Protein Digestibility & Bioavailability
‘Digestibility’ refers to how well we can digest, or break down different proteins into their amino acids. Whilst ‘bioavailability’ refers to how well our body can absorb and utilise those amino acids. There are a number of factors that contribute to how digestible and bioavailable a food is, but the source and quality of what you consume, and your gut health and digestive function are two crucial components.
Protein from plant-sources, with the exception of quinoa and soy, not only require complementing (as mentioned above) but plants also contains what are called ‘anti-nutrients’, such as phytates, oxalates, and lectins. These are produced by the plant as a means of protection from disease and being eaten by insects. Smart little plants! However, these ‘anti-nutrients’ can hinder the absorption of nutrients from plant-proteins and can be harmful to our health. This calls for proper preparation (soaking, cooking, and sprouting) of vegetables, legumes, and grains.
On the other hand, animal-based proteins do not contain these ‘anti-nutrients’ and often offer more recognisable forms of nutrients as well as co-factors to assist absorption.
3 Simple Tips to Prioritise and Optimise your Protein Intake
Prioritise protein in your first meal of the day
This might look like eggs on toast or quinoa with avocado and greens, adding Mitchells Bone Broth Protein Powder to overnight oats or your favourite smoothie or greek yoghurt, scrambled eggs or tofu, or even including meat/poultry in your breakfast.
Aim for 1-2 palm-sized portion of protein-rich foods with every main meal
What works for you, may not work for another. This is because we are all unique, have different body shapes and sizes, lead different lifestyles and have different dietary needs. However, using your hand as a measure to bring awareness to what makes up your plate is a relatively easy practice!
Add Mitchells Bone Broth Protein Powder to your daily routine
Mitchells Bone Broth Protein Powder packs the punch of a complete amino acid profile, naturally extracted from 100% grass-fed NZ beef bones, whilst also being dairy-free, gluten-free, legume-free and grain-free. By using a traditional slow-cooking method the nutritional concentration and quality is retained, with no need to add any synthetic amino acids to improve its profile. If that’s not enough, being a bone broth base and super low-allergen, it’s incredibly nourishing for your gut!