Amino acids and protein are two words that bring meat and physical strength to the imagination. This is true but the benefits of protein and amino acids goes further than our physical bodies. Mental health is a subject that brings conflicted feelings to conversations. Fear not! As social beings, we need to talk and discuss with other social beings. Mental health and emotional regulation both can become as common as protein and fish. Here, take a further look into what our bodies and minds crave the most from us.
Protein & Amino Acids Basics
Proteins, more than 10,000 different types of protein, make us, our bodies, the way they are. The building blocks that proteins are made of are compounds known as amino acids. Without the amino acids, we have no protein. Without protein our bodies are unable to perform the daily functions needed to keep us alive.
Amino acids, the building blocks that make up protein, do not occur unless our bodies make them from scratch or by the modification of other compounds already in the body. It is important to know that our bodies do not store amino acids.
Our bodies require 20 different amino acids. Nine of these amino acids must be obtained through the food that we eat. Dietary sources that are high in amino acids include items such as eggs, soy, tofu, dairy, and meat.
The remaining 11 amino acids usually do not need to enter the body through diet, as our bodies can manufacture them.
Amino Acids - What They Do
Amino acids are essential for our body to function because those compounds are responsible for building muscles, transporting nutrients, preventing illness and carrying out additional bodily functions. Deficiency in amino acids can cause decreased immunity, fertility issues, lower mental alertness, slow growth, depression, and other health issues.
Lysine is responsible for building muscle and maintaining bone strength. This essential amino acid also aids in recovery from injury or surgery and helps regulate antibodies in hormones.
The amino acid histidine creates growth in creation of blood cells and tissue repair. It is also crucial for our immunity and digestive health. Anemia is a common symptom of histidine deficiency along with low blood levels impatience with arthritis and kidney disease.
Your skin and teeth will thank you when you eat a diet rich in amino acids such as three and nine. Tooth enamel and collagen both contain threonine.
Methionine does some pretty heavy lifting for our bodies. Selenium and zinc, two minerals our bodies gain through absorption, are absorbed with more efficiency when our bodies have access to methionine. In addition to helping some minerals absorb, amino acid methionine actually aids removal of some heavy metals that are toxic to our health, such as lead and mercury.
In addition to muscle recovery and repair, Valine’s properties include energy enhancement, increased endurance, and blood sugar level regulation.
Our bodies use isoleucine for wound healing and immunity properties. Along with the regulation of energy levels, this amino acid plays a large role in hormone production as well.
Fatigue, hair loss, and the possibility of skin rashes are a few indicators of leucine deficiency. Similar to many other important amino acids, leucine aids our body’s growth and repair.
Intimidating, even by its long name, phenylalanine is a popular ingredient of artificial sweetener such as aspartame. Aspartame, in large doses, can increase levels of phenylalanine, in the brain, too much and cause anxiety symptoms. A deficiency could cause adults fatigue, memory problems, and eczema.
Serotonin, a neurotransmitter affecting sleep, mood, appetite, and pain, and melatonin are both precursors of tryptophan. Having a sedative effect, tryptophan helps our body and our emotions stay healthy.
Brain Health & Emotional Regulation
The power of amino acids goes further than our physical health and our physical body. Increase in studies have shown beneficial correlation between amino acids from food, such as fish, and our mental health.
Your brain is protected from the surrounding general circulation by something called the blood-brain barrier (BBB). Amino acids have the ability to cross this BBB and reach the brain, stimulating synthesis of most neurotransmitters. The synthesis process highly affects brain chemistry and beneficially impacts mood regulation.
Mental health is an ever evolving subject. It often takes a traumatic or severely stressful event for us to slow down and look at our mental health. Our mental health should not be left for only the most stressful of times.
CTV News Calgary has an excellent list of community resources available to the public. There is no better time to take an interest in your mental health. Brush off the stigmas that can be around the subject, and begin the self love you deserve. It is not an easy journey, one of self-care. Reach out and speak out to those around you. We all share more than we know.
Amino acids are not just the building blocks for our physical body. Our brain chemistry and mood regulation both play lead roles in our everyday life. Understanding the amino acids our bodies need to get from food and knowing the amino acids our bodies can construct helps us make informed and healthy decisions. Your mental health should never take a back burner position. You are important and you are worth every choice you make. Eating fish is a healthy choice but it does not stop there. As humans, we need interaction with others. Reach out to a friend for a virtual cooking class or a friend night online. Taking steps to feed and nourish our mental health is just as important as our physical health.
You are worth it!