What are proteins? Types, functions and benefits

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The optimal functioning of the human body depends entirely on millions of elements. Some of these join with others to create new components. All this incredible and complex process allows us to stay alive. Among these mechanisms are those carried out by proteins.

what are proteins? What types of proteins do we have in the body? How do they influence its functioning? Let’s take a look at the answers.

What are proteins?

The U.S. National Library of Medicine gives an excellent definition of proteins. It says that they are molecules of considerable size. They are also involved in a large number of functions within the body. For example, they help in the formation and function of various organs in the body, whether it is a cell or the tissue of a major organ.

Proteins are made up of amino acids. These are joined together, in some cases up to 20 different ones, to form new ones. The formation, the components involved and the size they will reach, will depend on the information in the DNA. All this complex process is already predesigned in the genetic information.

Types of proteins

Since there is no clear way to classify proteins, they can be divided into different groups according to different parameters. Pharmacist Alfredo Carpintero, a graduate of the University of Catalonia, reveals what some of them are.

According to shape

If we take into account their shape, they are classified into two groups: fibrous and globular. In the case of the fibrous ones, they help to support the body at a structural level, at least most of them. In addition, they cannot dissolve easily in water

On the other hand, the globular ones are soluble in water. These include the different enzymes, antibodies and those responsible for transport, such as hemoglobin. Additionally, it is important to know that some proteins can have a little of both groups, which is why they are called mixed. Thanks to their composition, their function is facilitated.

By solubility

When catalogued by solubility, we find two groups of proteins: those that are integral to the membrane and those that have no order in themselves. In the case of the first group, they remain attached to a specific hydrophobic sequence

In the second group, proteins have a great flexibility in their composition. This allows them to perform different activities in a short time. The ribosomal proteins are an excellent example of this.

Chemical composition

They could also be categorized by their chemical composition. These can be simple, such as insulin or collagen. The second, broader group would be the conjugated ones. Among these we find myoglobin

Functions of proteins

Proteins must perform a wide variety of functions within the body. Mayo Clinic reveals which are the most common ones

  • Catalysis. It is a process that allows, through chemical reactions, to perform a task quickly. For example, pepsin degrades food in the digestive system.
  • Regulators. They help to maintain a stable internal condition. An example is insulin, which regulates the amount of sugar present in the blood.
  • Structural. Some serve to hold all parts of the body together, especially the bone structure. Collagen, for example, helps to bind joints together.
  • Defensive. They protect the body against attacks from harmful elements. These include immunoglobulin, keratin and prothrombin.
  • Transport. They are in charge of carrying necessary elements from one place to another. The best example is hemoglobin, which carries oxygen throughout the body.
  • Receptors. They perform one of the most complex functions. They receive a signal and act immediately to protect the body. This occurs, for example, in muscle contraction.
  • Motor. Their function is to make other elements of the body work. Among them is myosin, which gives the signal for muscles to contract.
  • Reserve. Some proteins have the function of storing nutrients for later use. For example, ferritin stores iron.

Benefits of proteins

By reviewing the functions of proteins in the body, it is easy to understand why they are so important. Nutrition experts point out that the dose to be ingested will depend on the weight of each person. For each kilogram a person should consume 0.85 g per day. But, when reaching advanced age, that amount should be increased to 1.02 g. In this way, the following benefits will be obtained.

  • Body tissues. They help to keep them in good condition. Even when they break or break, they help their regeneration.
  • They help the body weight. Since protein provides a feeling of satiety, it is easier to limit calorie intake. This helps you lose weight or maintain your ideal weight.
  • Eliminates waste. Thanks to protein, the body not only makes better use of nutrients, but also eliminates everything that is of no use to it more quickly.

A study on the effects of protein and branched-chain amino acid supplements in strength training: a literature review found that protein may have a positive effect on increasing performance and muscle mass, although it acknowledges that further evaluation is needed.

Risks in protein consumption

As the Clínica Universidad de Navarra emphasizes, the lack of protein intake affects the body. However, excess intake can also be harmful. It is necessary to find a balance. For that reason, it is necessary to know the weight of each person. Then the right dosage can be determined

Too much protein can cause serious problems. These include obesity. It is not only a question of weight gain, but also the consequent health risks that this entails. Many cardiovascular diseases are associated with obesity.

In addition, organs such as the kidneys or liver are also forced to work more than they should, causing their functioning to be affected. This can deteriorate them to the point of suffering other conditions, such as renal ailments.

If consumed properly, proteins produce many benefits. In case of any doubt, it is best to consult a medical specialist.

German Fuertes Otero
German Fuertes Oterohttps://www.google.com/search?kgmid=/g/11p5t5jsss
CEO at PharmaSalud.net. M.D. from Stanford Medicine: Stanford, California, US, M.Sc. from University of Cambridge: Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, UK and University of Oxford: Oxford, Oxfordshire, UK. PhD at Harvard University Harvard Catalyst: Cambridge, MA, US.

Aunque pueda contener afirmaciones, datos o apuntes procedentes de instituciones o profesionales sanitarios y la información contenida en PharmaSalud esté redactada por profesionales en medicina, recomendamos al lector que cualquier duda relacionada con la salud sea consultada con un profesional del ámbito sanitario.

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