The digestive system breaks down dietary protein into individual amino acids, which are absorbed and utilized by cells to make more proteins and a few other macromolecules like DNA. Take a look at how proteins travel via the gastrointestinal tract and into the circulatory system.
Eggs are a wonderful source of protein in the diet, and we’ll use them as an example to talk about protein digestion and absorption. One egg has roughly six grams of protein, whether raw, hard-boiled, scrambled, or fried.
What Is Protein?
One of the most vital components in your body is protein. Protein is the main component of your muscles, hair, eyes, organs, and numerous hormones and enzymes. It also aids in the healing and maintenance of bodily tissues.
However, not all protein is created equal, and there are ways to help your body utilize it more effectively.
Protein is a major foodstuff made up of smaller compounds known as amino acids. Only 11 amino acids can be produced by your body out of a total of 20. The remaining nine are known as essential amino acids, because they can only be obtained from food.
All nine necessary amino acids may be found in high-quality protein sources such as meat, fish, eggs, and dairy products. These are also known as full proteins or whole proteins.
Only a few necessary amino acids are found in other protein sources such nuts, beans, and seeds. However, several of these protein sources, such as rice and beans, may be combined to provide a complete protein that has all nine necessary amino acids.
The Role Of Enzymes
When you initially start chewing, protein digestion begins. Amylase and lipase are two enzymes found in your saliva. Carbohydrates and lipids are the main things they break down.
When a protein source reaches your stomach, it is broken down into smaller chains of amino acids by hydrochloric acid and proteases. Peptides link amino acids together, whereas proteases break them apart.
These smaller chains of amino acids pass through your stomach and into your small intestine. Your pancreas produces enzymes and a bicarbonate buffer to lower the acidity of digested food as a result of this.
More enzymes can work on further breaking down amino acid chains into individual amino acids as a result of this decrease.
Among the enzymes engaged in this phase are:
- Digestion From the Mouth to the Stomach
Unless you’re eating it uncooked, chewing is the first step in digesting an egg (or any other protein source). The huge egg bits are mechanically broken down into smaller pieces that may be eaten by the teeth. Saliva is produced by the salivary glands to help with swallowing and transit of the partly crushed egg down the esophagus. The mashed egg fragments pass through the esophageal sphincter and into the stomach. Gastric juices comprising hydrochloric acid and the enzyme pepsin are released by the stomach, which start the protein breakdown process.
The stomach’s acidity aids in the unfolding of proteins that maintain some of their three-dimensional structure after cooking, as well as the breakdown of protein aggregates generated during the cooking process. Pepsin, a digestive enzyme released by stomach cells, breaks down protein chains into smaller and smaller bits. Egg proteins are big globular molecules that require time and mixing to break down chemically.
The partially digested protein is churned into a more homogeneous slurry called chyme by the intense mechanical stomach contractions. Protein digestion takes longer in the stomach than carbohydrate digestion, although it takes less time than fat digestion. When you eat a high-protein meal, the amount of time it takes for the food to be properly broken down in the stomach rises. Food stays longer in the stomach, making you feel fuller for longer.
Digestion From The Stomach To The Small Intestine
The chyme containing the broken down egg fragments is emptied into the small intestine, which is where the majority of protein digestion takes place. The pancreas secretes digestive juice, which includes additional enzymes that help break down the protein pieces even more. Chymotrypsin and trypsin are the two most important pancreatic enzymes for protein digestion.
Additional enzymes are released by the cells that lining the small intestine, which break down the smaller protein pieces into individual amino acids. The digested proteins are mixed and propelled to the absorption sites by the small intestine’s muscular contractions. Amino acids are transferred from the intestinal lumen to the blood through the intestinal cells in the lower portions of the small intestine. Special transport proteins and the cellular energy component, adenosine triphosphate, are required for the movement of individual amino acids (ATP). The amino acids are delivered to the liver after they have reached the bloodstream.
The liver, like other macronutrients, acts as a gatekeeper for amino acid transport and any further breakdown, which is negligible. Because amino acids include nitrogen, continued catabolism of amino acids results in the production of nitrogen-containing ammonia. Because ammonia is poisonous, it is converted to urea by the liver, which is subsequently carried to the kidneys and expelled in the urine. Urea is a nitrogen-containing chemical that is very soluble in water.
This makes it an excellent option for removing excess nitrogen from the body. Because amino acids are building blocks that the body saves to create more proteins, more than 90% of the protein consumed is not broken down any farther than the monomers of amino acids.
Hormones and nerve impulses help your body manage protein digestion. Secretin causes your pancreas to release both bicarbonate and digesting enzymes, whereas Gastrin urges your stomach cells to generate acid. Cholecystokinin is a third hormone involved in protein digestion, as well as directing the release of digestive enzymes by the pancreas. By reacting to the physical presence of food in your digestive track, your nervous system aids protein digestion. The stimulation of neurons in this location aids in the movement of food through your gut’s various organs.
How Much Protein Do You Need?
The amount of protein you should consume each day is determined by your total calorie consumption. Protein should account for 10 to 30% of your calories, or 50 to 150 grams if you’re following a 2,000-calorie diet. While this may seem daunting, you can easily achieve your requirements by eating eggs, dairy, meat, nuts, lentils, and other pulses, as well as vegetables. A protein shake may be an easier-to-digest option if you have difficulties digesting dense meals like meat.
Amino Acids Are Recycled
Amino acids can be recycled to form new proteins, much like some polymers may be recycled to make new goods. Protein turnover is a process in which all cells in the body constantly break down proteins and generate new ones. Every day, your body dismantles over 250 grams of protein and builds 250 grams of new protein. Amino acids from meals and protein breakdown are combined in a “pool” to create these new proteins. Even though it isn’t a real pool, when an amino acid is needed to construct another protein, it may be obtained from the body’s other amino acids.
Amino acids are utilized not just to make proteins, but also to make other nitrogen-containing biological compounds like DNA and RNA, as well as to create energy to some extent. It is vital to maintain amino acid levels within this cellular pool by ingesting high-quality proteins in the diet, or the amino acids required for the construction of new proteins will be gained by increasing protein degradation from other bodily tissues, particularly muscle. This amino acid pool makes up less than 1% of total body protein. Protein is not stored in the same way as carbs (as glycogen in the muscles and liver) and lipids are (as triglycerides in adipose tissue).
Dietary protein and the breakdown of cellular proteins provide amino acids to the cellular pool. Because amino acids are exported to produce new proteins, energy, and other biological compounds, this pool must be replenished.
What Are The Benefits Of Improved Protein Absorption?
Clearly, our bodies’ capacity to utilise protein is crucial to a wide range of bodily activities, many of which may be impacted by variables such as age, stress, or the demands of physical exercise. BC30-fortified meals and beverages can assist a wide range of consumers gain the advantages of increasing their protein intake.
In the elderly population, Because the rate of protein absorption slows as people become older, meals and drinks containing Bc30 may help the body better use the protein it consumes.
Athletes and those that have an active lifestyle Protein’s muscle-building and restorative properties can help active people. The findings of this study indicating more efficient protein digestion, as well as prior evidence that BC30 ingestion enhances muscle repair after hard training, suggest that BC30-fortified products might help athletes acquire the advantages they need to stay active.
In the broader public People are becoming more proactive about macronutrients like protein as their understanding of the importance of a balanced diet grows. People who are concerned about their health and wish to improve their protein absorption desire it as a functional advantage in their regular foods and beverages.
Protein is essential for practically all of your body’s functions. Before it’s released into your circulation as individual amino acids, it’s digested in your mouth, stomach, and small intestine.
Eating complete proteins and adopting particular behaviors, such as chewing fully before swallowing, might help you absorb the most nutrients from protein sources.
Add these high-protein items to your diet if you’re ready for additional protein right now!