Protein is an essential macronutrient and should be included in adequate amounts of the daily diet for every cell in the human body. Protein is derived from the Greek proteios, or primary. The name is fitting as, after water, protein is the most plentiful component of our body.

Macronutrients are needed in large amounts while micronutrients are needed in smaller amounts. Our macronutrients include protein, carbohydrate and fat and the micronutrients include the vitamins and minerals.

When we eat protein, it is broken down into amino acids. These amino acids are responsible for the growth, maintenance and repair of our bodies throughout our lives. They are valuable sources of energy, play a vital role in brain function and mood elevation, muscle, bone and skin health, liver detoxification, are critical to efficient healing and contribute to hormone and enzyme systems which regulate digestion and growth and finally, without these valuable neurotransmitters, we suffer from central nervous system disorders.

Anxiety, depression, extreme nervous tension, high blood pressure and insomnia are at an all-time high and with the incorporation of plenty of protein, the amino acids can build those valuable neurotransmitters that are calming to the nervous system.

There are essential and non-essential amino acids. Those that consume animal proteins and dairy are taking in all of the essential amino acids. The vegan diet however requires the consumption of a variety of plant proteins to achieve the goal of a diet with sufficient essential amino acids. This requires combination eating of plant matter but do be careful because plants can have hormone like effects creating further imbalance.

One amino acid we rarely hear about is one of the most therapeutic. This amino acid is glycine and it’s found in our homemade soup made from bones. All of us but particularly those in recovery from surgery or illness can benefit with the incorporation of a few ounces of soup. The amino acids in bone broth allow us to eat a little less meat which can help stretch the grocery budget a bit further as well.

Protein is the satiety macronutrient so it keeps you fuller longer. When you consume sufficient protein, particularly early in the day, you’re setting yourself up for a more successful day physically and mentally. If you’ve ever suffered a slight headache from skipping breakfast, that’s generally the cue to grab some protein.

How much protein should you consume? As a general rule of thumb, it’s recommended that the average individual consume approximately one-third to one-half gram of protein per pound of body weight. The 150 lb. person might need 75 mg of protein daily.

It’s important to mention that protein can require a fair amount of insulin to shuttle the amino acids to tissue. This means consuming protein without carbohydrate and/or fat can contribute to a hypoglycemic state where the blood sugar drops very quickly causing stress.

Be sure to eat a balanced meal to contribute to a balanced day both physically and mentally.