What is your right protein?

Nutritional deficiencies are one of the leading problems in South Asian countries, especially in India. In India, people have a lot of myths regarding protein in their diet. A recent IMRB survey revealed that 73% of Indians believe that leafy vegetables are a reliable source of protein, 29% people think that their daily diet is enough for their daily protein needs, and 30% believe that one egg a day provides enough protein, which is not true.

When we say, ‘better your protein’, it implies the quantity as well as the form of protein being consumed. It is important to understand how easily the protein will be digested, absorbed and made available in the body for various functions. Indians derive almost 60% of their protein from cereals with relatively low digestibility and quality. 

Protein is needed daily for proper growth and repair of body tissues, enzyme function, and hormonal activity. Plus, it is a transport molecule and is responsible for all the oxygenated blood and energy to reach different parts of the body via the blood protein haemoglobin.

The correct approach

There are two kinds of protein — intact and hydrolysed. Most protein-rich foods and supplements deliver intact protein, but some deliver the already half-digested (predigested) hydrolysed proteins. 

Hydrolysed proteins are easily absorbed by the intestine, so they are a boon for the elderly, who find it difficult to digest food easily. These proteins are beneficial for those suffering from illnesses too.

They are great for fitness freaks and athletes, as they lead to better muscle mass gain and recovery of muscle damage. As hydrolysed proteins are less allergenic they are good for babies who are at risk for food allergies.

(The author is a nutritionist)

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