Protein is important and necessary for living things, it has tasks such as giving energy and healing the body. People should get about 10% of their daily calories from protein foods. Proteins can be obtained from a variety of food sources. Strained yogurt (it should be low in fat) for breakfast, a portion of skinless chicken breast for lunch, beans or a different legume can be consumed for dinner. The body breaks down dietary proteins and reuses them in other ways. 11 amino acids are produced in the body, the others (9 of which are called essential amino acids) must be obtained from food. It is important for everyone to consume enough protein.
Below are some signs that indicate insufficient protein intake, but it should be noted that there may be other reasons for the symptoms. Therefore, the given information is general information. Readers should not self-diagnose based on this information.
Appetite and Hunger
It is a source of calories like proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Constant desire to eat and needing frequent snacks between meals can be a sign of low protein. Protein is among the most satiating foods, meaning it makes the feeling of fullness last longer. If people are insufficient in terms of protein, they may experience some hunger pains or spasms during the day.
Studies show that eating a high-protein meal (compared to a higher-carb meal) stimulates the secretion of a number of satiety hormones, such as PYY and GLP-1. These hormones are associated with a feeling of fullness and have been shown to reduce the urge to eat after ingestion.
Muscle Weakness, Fatigue and Weakness
Protein deficiency can cause loss of muscle mass over time, reduce strength, make it difficult to maintain balance and slow down metabolism. One study found increased muscle loss in older men and women who consumed low amounts of protein. Animal protein in particular is good for joints because the collagen in these protein sources has been shown to relieve joint pain. According to a clinical study, it was found that daily protein intake can relieve pain in patients with osteoarthritis. If the cells do not receive enough oxygen, anemia may occur, which is one of the causes of fatigue.
Slow Healing of Wounds
Research shows that adequate amounts of protein are needed for new cells, tissues and skin to heal, rebuild and for immunity. One study found that eating protein can speed up the healing of hip fractures in older adults. Lack of protein in the body can significantly slow the healing time of cuts and scrapes in case of injury. A slowdown in recovery also applies to other setbacks related to exercise and sprains. There are also proteins that are effective in blood coagulation.
Nail, Skin and Hair Problems
The first sign of not getting enough protein is hair loss. Thin hair, shedding, peeling of the skin and nails, drying, flaking, vertical and thin bumps or protrusions on the nails are some of the first signs that the body may not have enough protein. These types of problems are caused by proteins such as elastin, collagen and keratin. Biotin, a water-soluble B vitamin, is necessary for the metabolism of branched-chain amino acids found in proteins, helping skin, hair and nails look healthy and vibrant. Usually, loss of protein and loss of biotin go together, so many people experience hair loss from protein deficiency. Of course, nutritional deficiency is not the only cause of these problems, but it is a possibility that should be considered.
Edema (Fluid Retention)
Certain proteins that circulate in the blood (such as albumin) play an internal role in preventing fluid from accumulating in tissues, particularly in the feet and ankles. The most common symptom of not getting enough protein is swelling or edema in the abdomen, legs, feet and hands. The characteristic symptom of edema is abdominal or stomach bloating. These symptoms reflect a very serious protein deficiency and are not very likely to be seen in developed countries. Many things can cause edema, so if a more important condition is seen, a doctor should be consulted.
Getting Sick Often
Amino acids in the blood help the immune system produce antibodies that activate white blood cells to fight bacteria, viruses and toxins. Frequent illness indicates that the immune system is weak and that immune cells are made of proteins. One study in particular found that over nine weeks, older women who consumed low amounts of protein had a significantly lower immune response. Proteins are also needed to digest and absorb other nutrients that keep people healthy. There is also evidence to suggest that protein can alter the levels of disease-fighting bacteria in the gut.
Brain Fog, Mood Changes
The brain uses chemicals called neurotransmitters to transmit information between cells. Most of these chemicals are made of amino acids (the structure ages of proteins). Therefore, a lack of protein in the diet means that the body cannot produce enough of the neurotransmitter, which can cause a change in the way the brain works. Brain fog, fatigue, lack of concentration and blood sugar fluctuations may be associated with protein deficiency. In this regard, those who are protein deficient are also deficient in neurotransmitters (for example, serotonin and dopamine) that can affect mood, anxiety and sleep.
Amount of Protein to Intake
It is very difficult to experience a protein deficiency if a diet containing a variety of unprocessed foods (including fibrous fruits and vegetables) is maintained. However, if very few calories are consumed, dietary protein can be used in the body for energy rather than building muscle, immunity, healthy hair, skin and nails. The protein that an average person should consume in a day should be at least 0.36 grams per 1 kilogram of their body weight. For example, a person who weighs 150 pounds should get about 55 grams per day. The right amount of protein intake depends on several factors, such as a person’s activity level, age, muscle mass, and health status.
Who is at Risk of Protein Deficiency?
Most people get enough or even more protein. Those who don’t get enough protein are often malnourished. Malnutrition caused by protein deficiency (poor, unhealthy diet) is also known as kwashiorkor.
As we age, digestion and the ability to use protein become less effective. Any muscle loss tends to be permanent in the elderly, but younger people tend to recover fairly quickly. Cancer patients other than the elderly may have problems in eating enough protein foods to meet their needs.
Those who exercise regularly and eat a well-balanced diet are probably fine, but strenuous athletes burn more calories and use more protein to build muscle (close to twice the average person, or about 0.5 to 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight). They may still need to consume more protein to reach adequate levels. Care should be taken not to overdo it as this can create some problems.
Stress hormones affect protein intake, which in turn affects both physical and emotional stress. Because blood sugar balance and anxiety are linked, an increase in anxiety can increase cravings for sugary foods and discourage people from eating fiber and protein-rich food sources.
People Following a Weight Loss Diet
Studies have shown that adequate protein is needed for weight loss to balance blood sugar and prevent muscle breakdown. However, people who follow a restricted diet tend to lack protein.
Those with Digestive Problems
Many people with an imbalance in their gut or low stomach acid may not be able to digest proteins efficiently, which can lead to reduced immunity, weight gain, and protein deficiency. It is necessary to have enough stomach acid (hydrochloric acid or HCL) to digest protein.
Those in Economic Disability
Severe malnutrition is more common in developing, economically distressed countries, especially among children or after natural disasters.
What Can Be Done When There Is A Protein Insufficiency?
- Processed foods and those who eat a lot of carbohydrates (sugar) should start replacing them with three or four servings of unprocessed foods such as fresh meat, fish, chicken, dairy products, eggs, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. There is a significant amount of protein in plant foods as well as animal products.
- Rich sources of protein for vegans include whole grains, lentils, soy, beans, nuts, seeds and vegetables.
- Those who do not like or do not want to eat protein foods may consider using a protein powder supplement made from soy, egg, rice, peas or whey.
- Those who think they may have low stomach acid should consult their doctor or dietitian for a good supplement.
Those who have a lot of stress in their life may try meditation or yoga, or engage in other appropriate activities to relieve stress.
- Protein is available in many forms, both raw and cooked. No matter what diet you choose, there are various ways to add more protein to your diet in a healthy and delicious way.