How Do Amino Acids Play into your Diet?
The more humanity studies for the sake of understanding our world, the more we discover about how things work. For example. In the 1800s, scientists like John Dalton gathered evidence of the building blocks of what makes all matter, the atom. From there, we learned that atoms were made of protons, neutrons, and electrons. Then we kept researching how they interacted with each other. If that doesn’t highlight the zenith of human curiosity, nothing else will.
So, it would make sense that the more we learn about what food, the more we can explore how it works on a molecular level. Lately, there has been a trend in the diet and bodybuilding world regarding the consumption of specific amino acids in the daily diet. So, where did this diet come from?
Also, how do we apply what we know now about molecular structures into our diets? The only way to find out is to do research.
What are Amino Acids?
Amino acids are the literal ‘building blocks of the cells’. To put it in a nutshell, “DNA is first transcribed into RNA, then RNA is translated into protein.” And what is protein in this scenario? Proteins are the literal working molecules for every living thing on the planet.
So if you can imagine long protein chains that multiply, fold, and twist into shapes that create living things, that is what amino acids are. As far as we know, “Only about 20 amino acids are common in humans and animals, with 2 additional ones present in a few animal species. There are over 100 lesser known amino acids found in other living organisms, particularly plants.”
Disclaimer: Naturally, this can nosedive quickly into an argument about what people may or may not view as a scientific fact vs a matter of faith. However, that bombshell is only going to get us off track of the current subject matter. So I am just going to state that these chains of amino acids and how they work are just what has been observed over the last two centuries.
How do Amino Acids Play in our Diet?
Now that we know what they are, how does this figure into our diet? Well, that is where it gets a little tricky, but still all the more fascinating. As far as we know it, the amino acids that are present in the human body number at 20. That does not sound like a lot. However, if someone were to try to calculate a permutation of these acids with 20 spots the result would be over two quintillion combinations. Two quintillion combinations.
And that is only if there were just 20 spots available per chain. There is no numerical limit to how long an amino acid chain can get. Or how many times a combination can repeat. By that logic, the number of combinations are infinite!
Out of the 20 amino acids that are required to keep the human body functioning, we can produce 12 naturally. They are called non-essential amino acids. The rest of these amino acids are gathered from outside sources of protein. This is the protein found in meat, eggs, nuts, and dairy.
There has been a couple of these essential amino acids that can come from plant life, but with the exception of soybeans, the general consensus is that a balanced diet of meats/nuts/eggs/ etc along with the regular intake of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains would provide the human body with all essential amino acids.
Why are these Amino Acids Essential?
Having all 20 amino acids are important for getting the most basic of bodily functions working properly. These tiny chains of protein are responsible for, “building and repairing tissues, digesting food, for the formation and function of enzymes and to transport molecules, such as oxygen, through your body.”
And without essential amino acids ,especially in a child’s diet, the results can become outright deadly, “Protein deficiency has been shown to affect all of the body’s organs and many of its systems, including the brain and brain function of infants and young children; the immune system, thus elevating risk of infection; gut mucosal function and permeability, which affects absorption and vulnerability to systemic disease; and kidney function.”
Even mammalian animals like dogs, cats, and rats require these amino acids to survive. In one scientific experiment conducted by Nutritionist David Cumming Rose, “Through manipulation of rodent diets, Rose was able to show that ten amino acids are essential for rats: lysine, tryptophan, histidine, phenylalanine, leucine, isoleucine, methionine, valine, and arginine, in addition to threonine. Longer-term studies established histidine as also essential for adult humans.”
The impact of the discovery of amino acids has done the entire world a huge favor. It has given us a greater understanding when it comes to the foods we eat, and how it impacts our bodies. This wasn’t a fad diet from out of nowhere. This was the exhaustive work of multiple scientists, nutritionists, and biologists that observed and recorded repeated patterns. So take the time to be sure that you are getting your amino acid intake. Eat some meat, nuts, soy, or dairy.