Different Types of Protein, Protein Foods, and Protein functions in your body

Image showing high protein foods
Image showing high protein foods

Your body needs protein to survive. There are different types of protein available in different protein foods. You must know different functions of proteins and what the protein foods are. This article is all about protein, different types of protein and protein foods. Reading this article will help you understand which foods contain what types of protein and what the protein functions are.

What are proteins?

What are proteins? Proteins are very important elements and there are various functions of proteins in your body. Proteins are the building blocks of life. Every cell in the human body contains proteins. The basic structure of protein is a chain of amino acids. Protein consists of hundreds or thousands of smaller units of amino acids. These are attached to one another in long chains. There are 20 different types of amino acids that can be combined to make a protein. You need protein in your diet to help your body repair cells and make new ones. Protein is also important for growth and development in children, teens, and pregnant women.

What does protein do?

Do you know, “What does protein do in your body?” There are various functions of proteins in your body. Some of them carry important things from place to place in your body. They are kind of like the post office that delivers different information to different receivers. Some protein act like little machines that put new molecules together or break old ones apart. Some proteins work like doors to let things in and out of a cell. Protein have different activities, and they do all of these inside your body. The interesting is that the sequence of amino acids determine each protein’s unique 3-dimensional structure (shape) and its specific function. Proteins are described according to each protein function in the body.

Proteins do most of the works in cells and are required for the structure, protein function, and regulation of the body’s tissues and organs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you should obtain 10 percent to 25 percent of your daily calorie needs from protein.

Different types of protein and various protein functions:

There are different types of protein and various functions of proteins. Based on the amino acid sequence, proteins have various shapes and molecular weights. For instance, hemoglobin (details are given below) is a globular protein, which means it folds into a compact globe-like structure, but collagen (details are given below) found in our skin, is a fibrous protein, which means it folds into a long extended fiber-like chain. However, there are different types of protein, protein functions, and various sources of each protein – let’s see how they work:

Protein Name Description/Functions of proteins in the body
Antibody (Defensive) Antibodies are proteins that obstruct to specific foreign particles, such as viruses and bacteria to help protect your body. They are core parts of your immune system, keeping diseases away. Antibodies are formed in the white blood cells, and they attack bacteria, viruses and other harmful microorganisms rendering them inactive. There are a few medications that can be taken to increase antibodies, but eating the right foods can have the same effect without the side effects.
Some natural effective sources of protein (antibody): Egg yolks, Nuts, Tuna, lobster, shrimp, brown rice, cottage cheese, chicken (white meat), sunflower seeds, garlic, and lamb chops.
Enzyme (Enzymatic protein – go faster) Enzymatic protein accelerate metabolic processes in your body cells, including liver functions, stomach digestion, blood clotting, and converting glycogen to glucose. They carry out almost all of thousands of chemical reactions that take place in cells. They also assist with the formation of new molecules by reading the genetic information stored in DNA. Enzymes are like little machines; some of them build bigger molecules from smaller blocks, and some of them break bigger molecules down into smaller parts. Whether building or breaking, most enzymes can do this 50 to 5,000 times per second. In fact, one reaction that is part of the way your body makes new hemoglobin would take 2.3 billion years without an enzyme.
Your saliva glands, stomach, small intestine, and pancreas make many different kinds of enzymes to digest, or break down the food you eat into molecules which your cells can use. Amylase is an enzyme made by your saliva glands to help break starch down into sugar.
While all raw foods contain enzymes, the most powerful enzyme-rich foods are those that are sprouted (seeds and legumes). Sprouting increases the enzyme content in these foods tremendously. Other enzyme-rich foods include – papaya, pineapple, mango, kiwi, and grapes, avocado, raw honey (the enzymes actually come from the bee’s saliva), and bee pollen.
Messenger (Hormonal Protein) Hormones are protein-based chemicals which are secreted by cells of the endocrine glands. Endocrine glands are glands of the endocrine system that secrete their products (hormones) directly into the blood rather than through a duct. These hormones regulate metabolism, growth and development, tissue function, sexual function, reproduction, sleep, and mood. The major glands of the endocrine system include the pineal gland, pituitary gland, pancreas, ovaries, testes, thyroid gland, parathyroid gland, hypothalamus, and adrenal glands. Hormones are transported through the blood. Hormones act as chemical messengers that transmit signals from one cell to another. Each hormone affects the particular cells in your body, known as target cells. Such cells have specific receptors on which the hormone attaches itself to transmit the signals. An example of a hormonal protein is insulin, which is secreted by the pancreas to regulate the levels of blood sugar in your body.
Some natural sources of protein (hormonal protein): Eggs, Nuts, Poultry etc.
Structural component (Structural protein) These protein provide structure and support for cells. On a larger scale, they also allow the body to move. An important job that proteins do is providing structure. Collagen, keratin and elastin are most remarkable among different types of protein. Collagen holds different parts of your body together like glue, and makes up about 25% of all the protein found in your body. Collagen connects and supports your muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments, blood vessels, organs, cartilage, and even holds your skin together. Keratin is the main structural component in hair, nails, teeth and skin. Collagen works with keratin to provide the skin with strength, smoothness, elasticity and resilience. Elastin is a highly elastic protein in connective tissue and allows many tissues in the body to resume their shape after stretching or contracting. Elastin helps skin to return to its original position when it is poked or pinched.

Some natural sources of protein (structural protein): meat, eggs, beans, cabbage, soy products, red fruits and vegetables, carrot, lemons, and oranges.

Transport (Transport protein) These proteins bind (tie) and carry atoms and small molecules within cells and throughout the body. These protein mainly store mineral ions such as potassium in your body. Iron, for example, is an ion required for the formation of hemoglobin, the main structural component of red blood cells. Ferritin, a storage protein, regulates and guards against the adverse effects of excess iron in your body. Ovalbumin and casein are storage protein found in breast milk and egg whites, respectively, that play a huge role in embryonic development.
Transport protein help move other molecules around your body. Hemoglobin, for example, carries oxygen to body tissues from the lungs. Serum albumin carries fats in your bloodstream, while myoglobin absorbs oxygen from hemoglobin and then releases it to the muscles. Calbindin is another transport protein that facilitates the absorption of calcium from the intestinal walls.
Some natural sources of protein (transport protein): Red meats, Hen’s egg, fish, poultry, vegetables, beans, lentils, whole grains.
Receptors (Channel protein – molecular doorways) Cells have to be able to get stuff (including water and nutrients) in and out, just like a business would have to do. Raw materials have to enter, things that they make need to go out, and of course they need to be able to communicate with the outside world. There are lots of ways to get things in and out of a cell, but one way is with a channel protein.
A channel protein acts like a doorway with a security guard posted next to it. It will only let certain molecules in or out of the cell. Some channel protein are open all the time and some can be opened and closed depending on signals sent from the cell or received from the environment.
Some receptors activate enzymes, while others stimulate endocrine glands to secrete epinephrine and insulin to regulate blood sugar levels.
Examples of channel proteins include chloride, sodium, calcium, and potassium ion channels.
Contractile (Motor protein) Contractile proteins, also known as motor proteins, regulate the strength and speed of heart and muscle contractions in your body. These proteins are actin and myosin. These proteins can cause heart complications if they produce severe contractions. Actins are highly conserved proteins that are involved in cell motility, structure and integrity. Myosin converts chemical energy in the form of ATP to mechanical energy, thus generating force and movement. Actin filaments, usually in association with myosin, are responsible for many types of cell motility.
Muscles are composed of two major protein filaments: a thick filament composed of the myosin protein and a thin filament composed of the actin protein. Muscle contraction occurs when these filaments slide over one another in a series of repetitive events. A filament is a “long chain of protein, such as those found in hair, muscle, or in flagella.” They are often bundled together for strength and rigidity.
Foods contain the most actin and myosin: Meat, fish, eggs, cheese, quinoa, soya beans, nuts, seeds.

Now you understand that there are various functions of proteins in your body. The article has thoroughly explained: “What does protein do in your body?” Eat foods containing different types of protein – antibody, enzyme, messenger, structural protein, transport protein, receptors, contractile, your body requires all these protein. While some protein foods like red meats, eggs, fish, poultry, shrimp, chicken (white meat), cheese, contain a large amount of protein, some other foods like peanut,  chickpea (gram),beans, lentils, seeds, sunflower seeds, garlic, papaya, pineapple, mango, grapes, bee pollen, red fruits, carrot, lemons, oranges also provide plenty of protein your body needs. Be aware: all these foods should not be consumed per day. Select your own diet from the variety of protein foods as your daily consumption to improve nutrient intake and health benefits.


Reference: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 8th Edition. December 2015. Available at http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/.

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