Yes, amino acids are necessary for your body’s overall health. How you say? I will make a list: Weight loss, fat burning, smart and happy brain, moods, skin beauty, immune boost, liver, detox, circulation, and keeping you younger longer. But who is counting?
I’ve gone on about protein diets and its importance many times but the subject is so vast, it never seems enough! I’ve been getting an enthusiastic response on those articles and felt that people wanted to know more. I’ve written about protein foods; how collagen helps you and how can you obtain collagen supplementation.
Now it's time to talk about a more pressing issue: AMINO ACIDS! What are amino acids? Are amino acids necessary for my body’s overall health? These are few areas that need attention and you’ll find out WHY after reading this article so stick to your screens because a plethora of health perks are coming your way!
Million dollars question: Are amino acids necessary for my body's overall health?
A while ago, I was sharing my salmon salad with my cousin and explaining to her how she needs to add High Protein Snacks that are Low in Calories to her weight loss plan. She’s not a big fan of salmon, yogurt, beans etc so I had to make a little effort to convince her. While explaining to her how amino acids in these foods help her in losing weight, she put this question in front of me: Are amino acids necessary for my body’s overall health? Then it clicked on me: It was a million dollars question. how often amino acids and their benefits are ignored. So, I decided to write about it and before I go into details, let me give you a one word answer that will save you from frustration of curiosity: YES!!
YES, AMINO ACIDS ARE NECESSARY FOR YOUR BODY’S OVERALL HEALTH!
Amino acids are building blocks of proteins. They are little
bricks that combine in different designs to form your body’s structure. From your cell membranes to cellular nuclei, from DNA to genes, from joints to cartilage and from hair to skin, your body is dependent on these amino acids. So, not only should your overall protein intake be monitored but also so should your individual amino acid intake be monitored.
These amino acids make a contribution in health of each of your body parts. That’s why I call it “overall health”. Before listing some of these benefits backed by evidence, you need to know a bit about background of amino acids.
There are a total of twenty amino acids that exist in nature. These twenty combine in different fashion to make all kinds of proteins in your body (Spare a moment to appreciate the diversity of design of nature!). Amino acids are classified on basis of their synthesis in your body:
Non-essential amino acids are those produced in your body and you don’t need to take them exogenously. Alanine, Asparagine, Aspartic acid, Glutamic acid and Serine are non-essential amino acids.
Essential amino acids are those which your body can’t synthesize. You need to take those amino acids in your diet. These are crucial ones because if your diet is deficient in such amino acids, diseases are on their way! Some of essential amino acids include Histidine, Lysine, Isoleucine etc.
Amino acids of both types collaborate to build your body. Without them, it will fall apart. So, you got you answer once again: Yes! Amino acids are required for your overall health. Now let’s move on to a list of benefits that these amino acids provide. They will give you an idea about how amino acids are necessary for your body’s health.
How amino acids are necessary for overall health.
Amino acids join diversely to form hundreds of different proteins that perform different functions in your body. But both essential and non-essential amino acids seem to perform some functions on individual levels as well. Let’s look into those:
1. They help your brain functioning
Let’s start from your brain! Amino acids are integral part of your brain because they keep it functioning. Your brain needs coordination and this coordination is provided by neurotransmitters —chemicals that help in carrying messages in your brain. Have you ever wondered what these chemical are made of? Amino acids! GABA amino acid is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that helps in coordination of central nervous system. Similarly, there are many excitatory neurotransmitters that help in keep your brain going.
Amino acids also keep your brain happy as well. Amino acids like Tryptophan form serotonin in your brain. Serotonin is an excitatory chemical that floods fuzzy and warm feeling inside your body, elevating your mood. It sheds anxiety and depression, leaving you a stress-free person. Needless to say that if you feel elated all the time, your overall physical and mental well-being improves exponentially. That’s how amino acids keep your brain healthy! And a healthy brain means a happy individual!
2. They keep your defenses up
If you want to know scale of a person’s overall health, measure his immune system. Check if he stays healthy or often a victim of diseases. A healthy immune system is key factor for a healthy body. But what keeps your immune system healthy? Amino acids! They improve all levels of your defense barriers. Starting from SKIN and ending on LIVER and kidneys, these amino acids play tremendous roles. Skin acts as first physical barrier to any organism entering in your body. Amino acids like Leucine, Carnitine and Proline are makeup of collagen —a protein that keeps your skin healthy. They boost collagen production and keep your skin elastic. Sulphur containing amino acids like methionine aids in cell division so, dead cells in your skin are easily replaced. When old and worn-out skin is replaced by health skin due to elevated skin turn-over, your defenses stay intact.
They also actively participate in activation of T-cells (cells that kill foreign buggers), production of inflammatory chemicals and antibodies. Science has proven that availability of sufficient amino acids is directly proportional to maximum outcome of immune system.
They also take part in improving health of your gut. Your intestines play important role in your immune system and amino acids make sure it stays moving and healthy. Threonine and lysine play important role in protection of your intestinal lining. The cells lining your intestine secrete gel like substance mucin which helps in providing barrier against bacteria and other foreign invaders. So, your gut not only stays healthy with amino acids but also play its role in immune system responsibly.
3. They improve circulation
Main amino acid responsible for improving circulatory system is Arginine. This amino acid is a precursor of Nitric Oxide (NO) in your body. NO is a potent vasodilator and I’m sure all the hypertensive will be familiar with it! It dilates your blood vessels and proves to be highly effective, or as I like to say, pretty darn smart in lowering your blood pressure. When your arteries and dilated, blood flow also improves.
Branched chain amino acids (Valine, Leucine, Isoleucine) are involved in controlling blood sugar levels. They increase the insulin sensitivity of cells and help in regulation of glucose levels in your blood. This is good news for diabetics, isn’t it?
4. They provide energy but promote weight loss
Amino acids provide energy by burning as a fuel in your body. Now that rings a siren of CALORIES!! Whatever gives you energy, be it food or drink, it can have a side effect: FAT STORAGE! And of course it’s nothing less than a death stance for people trying to lose some extra pounds. But amino acids come as a huge relief and sign of life! Because they provide energy to body and keep you active but also promote weight loss! So, are amino acids necessary for my body’s overall health? Yes! Because they keep me full of energy and that too without risk of extra pounds. But how do amino acids promote weight gain? They target your growth hormones. Growth hormone is involved in fat oxidation and act as a potent fat burner. Amino acids like Arginine and Glutamine increase the levels of growth hormone (Somatotrophin) in your body and boost fat burning.
Glutamine provides energy by a pathway that bypasses fat production. It can be converted into glucose without contribution of insulin or glucagon hormones. Since it gets no help from insulin, insulin-induced fat storage is also prevented. That’s why science has proven that Glutamine can help in weight management. Other amino acids like carnitine are also involved in weight management in your body.
Amino acids also boost your workout stamina by providing your muscles with lots of energy. They are particularly close to your muscles and influence their health largely. They increase the number of mitochondria in your muscles so that more energy can be produced. Greater the amount of energy, longer the time of your workout! They also take part in repairing wear and tear caused by exercise. So, amino acids are a body builder’s best friends!
5. They make powerful antioxidants
Another indicator of your body’s overall health is measure of premature aging. Lesser the premature aging, healthier is your body! Amino acids know this secret so they help you in holding on to your youth for a longer time! So, next time you wonder why amino acids are necessary for your body’s overall health, tell yourself this: BECAUSE THEY KEEP YOU YOUNG!
Aging comes with many diseases and it affects various aspect of your health. But AMINO ACIDS HAVE ARRIVED TO RESCUSE YOU! They produce glutathione in your body which is a potent anti-oxidant. It’s involved in lessening free-radical damage in your body. Free radicals produced as a result of metabolism can affect any part of your body and damage its cells. So, when amino acids stop this damage, they are technically saving your whole body from wear and tear and potential diseases. They also detoxify liver and make you get rid of toxins. They improve your metabolism and keep you active.
So, I’ve explained these five points to give you a fair idea how amino acids impact your whole body health. Are amino acids necessary for my body’s overall health? YES! Why are they necessary for my body’s overall health? Because they literally hold my body together! How do they do it? The way I’ve explained in my above five points!
Till next time,
Growing younger everyday
Lehninger’s Principles of Biochemistry, 5th edition