You learned it in high school biology: amino acids are the building blocks of life. They form proteins and are required for every metabolic function of the body. When we speak of nutrition, we always talk about the importance of protein in our diet. But at the core of protein is amino acids; they are what’s left when protein is digested and they are what our body needs to survive. And at the core of Moringa has each and every one of the 23 amino acids that build, support and maintain strong bodies.
Protein and amino acids are vital to our bodies. As a refresher, thousands of proteins make up cells, which give them structure and helps them operate properly. Proteins, made of amino acids, help give the body energy, facilitate communication between cells and constantly create new cells. Without amino acids, we could not break down, digest and distribute nutrients from food, grow and develop both physically and mentally, and repair body tissue, among many other normal bodily functions.
There are three main types of amino acids:
1) Essential Amino Acids – These are amino acids that cannot be produced by our bodies. Therefore, we must consume all essential amino acids through plant and animal proteins.
2) Nonessential Amino Acids – These are amino acids that our body can produce even if we do not get enough through food intake.
3) Conditional Amino Acids – This subset of amino acids are typically nonessential amino acids that the body can produce except in times of stress or illness.
How do we make sure we get enough amino acids? By eating protein, of course. Complete proteins are those that contain every amino acid. Moringa is an example of a complete protein! On the flip side, incomplete proteins are lacking one ore more amino acids. Sometimes by combining foods, such as whole grain rice and beans, we can create a complete protein. While not every meal needs to contain every amino acid, it’s important to get a balance of them throughout the day.
Protein and amino acids can come from a variety of food sources. For many of us, meat is what comes to mind first when we think of protein. Meats often add necessary fat and calories to our diets. Lean meats are definitely a good source of protein, but there are many other proteins, including plant-based proteins, that add diversity and flavor to your diet. Eggs, Moringa, cheese, yogurt quinoa and soy are excellent choices for complete proteins. Beans, nuts, lentils and whole grains are incomplete proteins when they are eaten on their own, but still very beneficial to the body.
Protein intake depends on age, weight and a person’s level of activity. Typically, the formula of “0.4 x body weight = total number of grams of daily protein” is sufficient But for athletes or those who live extremely active lifestyles, more protein may be required.
In the coming weeks we will be breaking down each amino acid to explain why they are important for our bodies. And we’ll continue to ask the question: Are you getting what you need? With Moringa, you certainly are!