Protein is Important But Carbohydrates Play a Major Role Also

Protein is the group name to designate the principal nitrogen constituents of the protoplasm of all plant and animal tissues. Proteins are necessary for tissue synthesis and regulation of certain bodily functions.

However, to say that proteins are more important than other nutrients is not appropriate. An inadequate dietary have serious consequences. Proteins are complex structures made up of amino acids. The type of amino acids vary with each protein. However, nitrogen is always present. Carbohydrates and fats do not contain nitrogen.

It is natural carbohydrates from fresh fruits and vegetables that are needed on a regular basis to replenish energy for the nervous system. Without it, the nervous system becomes highly irritated. Refined carbohydrates, like sugar, are so concentrated that they overload the system. The body is equipped to store only limited amounts for energy needs. Cakes, pie, candy, and soda cause the blood sugar to rise. Your body responds by producing insulin, a hormone causing a rapid drop in the blood sugar level. The release of too much insulin is always a shock to the body. The “see-saw” rising and lowering of blood sugar levels wreaks havoc with the nervous system, causing a loss of stability.

The digestion of starch in carbohydrates begins in the mouth and then continues in the small intestine. As mentioned earlier, the main product of carbohydrate metabolism in glucose, or blood-sugar. In this form it enters our blood stream and first supplies the energy needs of our central nervous system. Any glucose not used immediately is stored in the liver or muscles as glycogen. The excess is converted to fat and stored throughout the body. Glycogen reserves are important because this is the primary fuel of hard working muscles, and supply of it is limited.

The body can store only a limited supply of glycogen: approximately 350 grams when the supply is at its peak. One-third of the amount is stored in the liver and the remainder in the muscles. Liver glycogen is available for immediate use. It is quickly converted into glucose when needed by the body. Muscles glycogen, however, does not have the necessary enzymes for this direct secretion into body fuel. It furnishes glucose indirectly. When the muscle contracts, glycogen is converted into Lactic Acid. The Lactic Acid is carried in the bloodstream to the liver and then converted into glycogen or glucose as needed by the body. For this reason, it does not reach the brain and nervous system as directly as liver glycogen.

The reserve of glycogen lasts 2-15 hours, depending on activity levels. Someone playing checkers can have enough to last most of the day. Body-builders in heavy training can use their entire supply of glycogen within 2-3 hours. The body will then switch to alternative, but, less efficient energy fuels. Muscle protein, for instance, can be converted by the liver into glucose in order to keep the brain and nerves supplied with fuel. However, this puts unnecessary stress on the liver. It also drains the supply of amino acids needed for building muscle and repairing the body.

Daryl Conant, M.Ed