The first step in protein digestion is chewing food. The protein then travels to your small intestine, stomach, and bloodstream. By eating specific foods, you can improve protein digestion and absorption.
Protein is the main ingredient of the body. Protein makes up the majority of your bones, skin, muscles, eyes, organs, hair, and many hormones and enzymes. Additionally, it aids in tissue maintenance and healing.
There are things you can do to improve protein digestion and absorption in the human body because not all proteins are created equal.
Amino acids, which are smaller molecules, make up the relatively massive nutrition protein. The body can only synthesize 11 out of the 20 amino acids. Only your diet can provide you with the remaining nine needed amino acids.
All nine of the required amino acids are found in high-quality sources of protein, including meat, fish, eggs, and dairy products. They may also be referred to as entire or complete proteins.
Some necessary amino acids are the only ones that are present in other protein sources like nuts, beans, and seeds. However, the main pedigree of these proteins is rice and beans.
Protein Digesting Enzyme’s Function
As soon as you start chewing, protein digestion starts. Amylase and lipase are the first enzymes in the protein digestion steps. These enzymes are found in saliva. Carbohydrates and lipids are mostly broken down by them.
Digestion of protein in the stomach starts as hydrochloric acid and proteases enzymes break down a protein supply into shorter chains of amino acids. Peptides, which proteases break, are used to connect amino acids.
After this, these amino acids enter your small intestine. Your pancreas then exudes enzymes and a bicarbonate buffer to lessen the acidity of the food that has been digested.
More enzymes can work on further disassembling amino acid chains into individual amino acids thanks to the decrease and hence helps in protein absorption.
Protein digesting enzymes that are frequently active during this phase include:
How is Protein Taken in?
How can food proteins, whether they are denatured or not, get the amino acids that cells can employ to create new proteins?
Our body breaks down the protein in the food you eat into its component α-amino [alpha-amino] carboxylic acid. After that, it is then absorbed by cells.
Let's now focus on the exact route that proteins take through the digestive system and into the circulatory system after talking about the basic process of food digestion previously. Eggs are rich in protein; that's why they will be used as an example to explain protein digestion and absorption. Following are the various protein absorption steps that occur in the body.
Between the Mouth and the Stomach
Egg digestion, like that of other protein-rich foods, begins with chewing unless you are consuming it raw. The huge egg fragments are mechanically reduced by the teeth into smaller, ingestible pieces. A small amount of saliva is produced by the salivary glands to help with swallowing and the esophageal transit of the partially mashed egg. From the esophageal sphincter, the fragments reach the stomach. The protein digesting enzymes like hydrochloric acid and the pepsin enzyme is released by the stomach as gastric juices, which start the digestion of protein in the stomach. The stomach's acidity aids in the unfolding of proteins that have retained some of their three-dimensional structure after cooking and aids in the dissolution of protein clumps created during cooking.
The stomach's lining cells secrete pepsin, which breaks the protein chains down into ever-tinier pieces and helps in protein absorption. Due to the size and shape of egg proteins, chemical breakdown takes time and mixing. The partially digested protein is churned into a more homogeneous mixture known as chyme by the strong mechanical contractions of the stomach. In the stomach, protein digestion takes longer than that of carbohydrates but less time than that of fats. Longer digestion of food results in a longer feeling of fullness.
The Small Intestine and the Stomach
The majority of whey protein digestion takes place in the small intestine, which receives the chyme from the stomach that contains the broken-down egg particles. Additional digestive juice from the pancreas, which contains enzymes to further break down the protein fragments, is secreted. Chymotrypsin and trypsin are the two main pancreatic enzymes that aid in protein digestion and absorption in the human body. Additional enzymes are released by the cells lining the small intestine, and these enzymes ultimately separate the smaller protein fragments into specific amino acids.
The proteins that have been digested are mixed and moved to the sites of absorption by the small intestine's muscle contractions. Amino acids are moved from the intestinal lumen to the blood in the lower portions of the small intestine by way of the intestinal cells. Adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the cellular energy molecule, and particular transport proteins are needed to carry the individual amino acids. When the amino acids are in the blood, the liver receives them. As the α-amino [alpha-amino] carboxylic acid is catabolized in ammonia because it includes nitrogen. Ammonia, which is harmful, is converted by the liver into urea, which is subsequently carried to the kidney and eliminated in the urine. Two nitrogens are present in the molecule of urea, which has a high water solubility.
The Recycling Of Amino Acids
Amino acids are recycled to create new proteins in the same way that some plastics may be reused to create new materials. Your body breaks down over 250 grams of protein each day while building another 250 grams. These new proteins are created by mixing amino acids from meals and those produced through protein splicing in a "pool." While there isn't a physical pool, when an amino acid is needed to create another protein, it can be found among the other amino acids already present in the body. High-quality proteins must be consumed regularly to keep the quantities of amino acids within this cellular pool stable; otherwise, the body will have to consume more protein from other tissues, particularly muscle, in order to get the amino acids required for synthesizing new proteins.
How to Increase Protein Absorption?
Selecting proteins that have all essential α-amino [alpha-amino] carboxylic acid is the major step in increasing protein absorption. These comprise:
- Dairy products
It was often thought that the body could only synthesize complete proteins if vegetarian proteins were ingested at the same meal. It is now understood that the body can assemble full proteins as necessary by combining proteins from different foods consumed throughout the day.
Variety is Essential for Vegetarians
Habits to Adopt
You can adopt specific practices to get the most out of the food you eat in addition to picking the correct protein sources and increasing your protein, especially whey protein digestion. These comprise:
- Eat consistently throughout the day.
- Chewing your food completely
- Lowering your stress levels, avoiding strenuous •Exercise shortly after a meal, and consuming less alcohol
- Controlling your blood sugar levels
- Adopting a regular exercise regimen, eating protein throughout the day rather than all at once.
The Final Word
Practically for every component of your body, protein is an essential food. Eating complete proteins and developing specific habits, including chewing food properly before swallowing, can help you absorb the most nutrients from protein sources as our body cannot store protein so we have to get enough of it through food.