The human body is one of the most complex mechanisms in the universe. It can do amazing things, but it needs a lot to keep it working properly. In particular, there are four classes of molecules your body needs to have an insufficient supply of at all times: carbohydrates, lipids, nucleic acids, and proteins. All of these biomolecules are the subject of intense, enduring study. That being said, multiple scientific disciplines will argue that protein is the most important of the four.
Protein serves as the primary structural and functional unit. It's composed of chains of building-block molecules called amino acids. There are 20 of these organic compounds. Some of them are produced naturally on a regular basis; some are only produced under certain conditions, and some need to come from your diet. The benefits of maintaining a proper concentration of amino acids in your body are numerous, so let's take a closer look at them.
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Food is no use to use to you if you can't get the carbs, fats, and protein from your lunch where they're needed. Unfortunately, the chunk of chicken cooling its heels in your stomach is too big to travel comfortably through your bloodstream to interact with your cells. That's where amino acids come into the picture.
Besides all the acidic juices found in your stomach, there are also hydrolytic enzymes - a class of protein that specialize in breaking down bonds in and in between molecules. These enzymes help to break down the food until it exists at a molecular level that can be absorbed through the lining of your stomach, the first leg of the journey to the cells, which lie in wait for energy. Without a proper balance of amino acids, our bodies won't have what they need to put together these important enzymes.
#2. Mood Regulation
Amino acids are an important component of neurotransmitters, which are a sort of chemical messenger. Among many other services, neurotransmitters (NT) help regulate mood. One popular example of this process revolves around the neurological interactions facilitated by dopamine. This NT is used to manage our reward system, which helps us realistically gauge the significance of events and how we should react to them. Whether we've successfully asked for a raise or gotten a promotion, scored a date, or downed a couple of shots of liquor, the rush of emotional buoyancy we feel can be linked to dopamine and other NT's that we need amino acids to generate.
#3. Healthy Features
Your hair, skin, and nails. What do they all have in common? The answer is keratin, a series of proteins that appears in countless animals. If you become afflicted with an amino acid deficiency, possibly stemming from malnourishment, the symptoms of low keratin become quite noticeable.
For example, you could expect hair to become thin and brittle - it might even fall out. You could also experience sores or lesions in your skin. It's not enough to just eat enough food. Caloric intake is important, but you also need to consume different foods which contain essential amino acids.
This example of the need for amino acids in the diet is probably the most familiar to everyone. Protein, and therefore amino acids, are of the utmost importance for building muscle. Leucine, an amino acid, activates a chemical pathway in your body that initials muscle development. Whey is a protein-rich compound that is commonly consumed after workouts. It's scientifically demonstrated to help improve results in terms of building muscles upon consumption.
Amino acids are also good for reducing muscle soreness. The soreness which occurs after exercise is widely thought to be a result of minute tears in the muscle, which strengthen it once they are repaired by the body. Protein-rich compounds have been shown to reduce the time needed to recover from exercise-induced wear and tear, leaving more energy to build muscle and get stronger.
So what have we learned?
There's no doubt that humans rely on amino acids for survival. It's up to us to make sure that our diet is balanced enough to contain the essential amino acids to ensure proper protein synthesis. Consult a health professional to get a better idea of where you stand in terms of diet.