Protein is one of the most important macronutrients and nutrients our body needs. Everything contains protein – muscles, eyes, hair, organs, and many hormones and enzymes. As the digestion of protein begins in the stomach, it’s only natural that you will want to improve its flora for max benefits.
This macronutrient has smaller parts called amino acids. Your body can create on its own only 11 out of 20. The 9 left amino acids can only be taken out of your diet. These are essential amino acids.
These are used for growth, maintenance, and regeneration, help cells to communicate properly, provide structure, maintain proper PH, balances fluids, boost immunity, provide energy, and transports and store nutrients.
How does protein digestion work?
As you intake food that contains protein, vegan or not, the first step will be to put it in your mouth. Here the teeth and salivary glands process it into smaller bits. These are then passed to the esophagus with the help of your tongue.
After passing thru the esophagus, the smaller pieces of food arrive in the stomach which has already prepared a proper mix of gastric juices that will help to process even more the food. The stomach, thru muscular contractions and together with these powerful juices, will generate out of this food a uniform mixture.
Inside the stomach is the very first step in the digestion of protein. Here the first layer of protein is removed in order for the enzymes to be able to process it. At this step, proteins take the highest time to digest compared to carbohydrates and fats.
The next step of digestion takes place in the small intestine. Here the complete break and absorption of protein happen. At this step enzymes secreted by the pancreas help to break the protein into smaller pieces. Enzymes released also by the small intestine give the final “push”. As a result, proteins become amino acids. And finally in this way these particles are being absorbed into the bloodstream.
The “leftovers” of proteins or proteins which weren’t digested pass to the colon. Our bodies will excrete them.
Wait.. what happens with the amino acids?
Once amino acids reach our bloodstream they pass next to the liver. As our liver “knows best”, he will use them wisely. He will direct them to be transported and added into the body’s amino acid pool and later on used. How? Well as I presented that at the beginning. Our body uses these elements in various ways depending on its needs.
How can I help my body better digest proteins?
Some proteins can be digested better than others. Usually, animal protein is the one easily digested by our body, especially diary one (if you aren’t lactose intolerant).
Animal protein has a digestibility factor bigger than 90% compared to plant protein which has a digestibility factor of 70-90%. Also, fish and soy proteins have a higher chance to not be fully digested and therefore reaching the colon where they increase putrefaction. In order to lower this, you can add also fibers to your food.
Heat and fermentation are two ways of increasing the chances for our body to properly digest these foods.
Also for vegans, a proper combination of foods will give you a better chance of obtaining all the amino acids. These are whole grains and legumes, nuts and whole grains, legumes with seeds, vegetables and nuts, vegetables and whole grains. Know that it’s not necessary to have them both at the same meal.
Other things you can do are forming some healthy habits like eating at the same time, stress less, limit alcohol consumption, take time to actually chew food in your mouth, exercise more, and manage digestive issues.
Courses that will help you understand how to have a cleaner diet: