The following is adapted from The Search for the
Have you ever done work around the yard and been
sore for weeks afterwards? While it’s easy to dismiss this soreness as just
being out of shape or overextending yourself, there may be something else going
on that is worth your attention.
Protein malnourishment might be to blame if your
soreness lasts longer than it should. But to understand why protein
malnourishment would lead to such symptoms, you first need to understand a few
basic protein principles and how it helps our bodies. That’s what we’ll explore
in this article, then see other effects of protein malnourishment.
Why is Protein So Important?
The anatomy of a protein consists of a long
string of linked amino acids, which are molecules made of carbon, hydrogen,
oxygen, and nitrogen. There are 22 different ways that amino acids are
configured for use in our body. Imagine 22 different colored and shaped beads,
all put together in an exact order—that’s what a protein looks like.
When this chain hits the stomach, the acid level
secreted by the stomach cells produces a chemical reaction that uncoils the
protein. Then, an enzyme called pepsin starts breaking the bonds between
the amino acids, and the chains split apart.
There is a lot of breaking apart required in the
process of digestion—it’s the splitting of longer complex molecules into
simpler ones by chemical means. After the partially digested proteins leave the
stomach, they enter the small intestine where enzymes from the pancreas break
the chains down further into individual amino acids.
When this long chain of amino acids is broken
down into single amino acids, protein digestion is complete, and the second
phase can begin: amino acids can then be absorbed by the intestinal cells and enter
Those individual amino acids are carried to our
cells—they are actively brought into the cell where the process of protein
synthesis can begin. For a muscle cell, it must put the amino acids back
together one-by-one into a human muscle fiber called myosin, with 6,100
amino acids per single fiber, and 374 amino acids in the other portion of the
muscle cell, actin. As you can see this process is unbelievably
This process occurs in every cell, every
minute of the day in the 100 trillion cells of the body, for the 50,000
different proteins that make up the body. However, the process can stall
at any point. If someone lacks quality protein in their diet, has an imbalance
of essential amino acids, or has no stomach acid, they will have poor protein
digestion. Pepsin only works when the acidity of the stomach is very low, with
a pH of 1 to 2.
The Detrimental Effects of Protein Malnourishment
My definition of protein malnourishment is
having inadequate levels of serum essential amino acids to accomplish
normalization of the body’s protein requirements.
A former patient of mine was very protein
malnourished, and if she so much as lifted a book from a table, her arm would
be sore for weeks! She had to be extremely careful with everything she did
because her body broke down, wouldn’t repair itself, or repaired very slowly.
Hers was a rare and interesting case, because it wasn’t like she was living in
Africa—she lived in the United States and ate what appeared to be a good diet.
Here are a few of the other conditions linked to
- Chemical sensitivities
- Fibromyalgia and chronic
- Anxiety and depression
- Autoimmune diseases like Lupus
and Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Sleep disorders
- Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and Dementia
Protein malnourishment is pervasive and is
rarely looked for by medical doctors. It is treatable and can facilitate
improvement in any of the above conditions.
Keep in mind that essential amino acids are not
the only nutrients the body needs; vitamins, minerals and essential fats at
optimum levels are also necessary. When we treat a patient, we look for all deficiencies
and work to replenish them.
This is the first step of the secret to helping
the chronically ill recover.
The second step is dependent on the first; we
must fix the deficiencies before we can get the accumulated toxins out of the
body and complete the recovery process.
So Much of Our Health Depends on Protein
As you can see, keeping our protein intake
levels where they need to be is incredibly important for our overall health.
It’s not about being sore for weeks on end.
It’s about avoiding illnesses and chronic
conditions that plague us as we age.
If you mind your protein intake and supplement
your diet with essential amino acids, you’ll be far more likely to enjoy
radiant health well into your 90s.
For more advice on avoiding protein malnourishment, you can find The Search for the Perfect Protein on Amazon.