protein deficiency

Vegetarians, are your feeling weak? You may be suffering from protein deficiency because pulses are just not enough. Here's what you must eat

Dry brittle hair, peeling skin and lack of sleep are common problems, which you frequently hear people complaining about. In some vegetarians, these could be symptoms of something far larger, such as protein deficiency or hypoproteinemia. Protein deficiency is very damaging in the long run. Dr Hemant P Thacker, physician and cardio metabolic specialist, says, "An insufficient amount of protein prevents the body from producing energy and maintaining muscles. It is, in fact, a state of malnutrition."

Why protein is important
They help in maintaining bones, muscles, and organs. The body uses protein to produce haemoglobin in red blood cells which carry oxygen. If supply of proteins is not replenished, organs begin to malfunction. You are unable to maintain normal levels of white blood cells, which fight infection. Consequently, your immunity plummets, causing you to fall ill frequently. Its deficiency can even cause a problem in the functioning of the lungs.

Effects of its deficiency
To alert the mind about the deficiency, the body goes into starvation mode. It starts pulling out protein from its stores, such as the muscles. This leads to a condition called muscle wasting. "If you stop working, you do not become poor the very next day. But you use up your savings over time. Which is why lack of protein shows up as a dire problem after a long period of poor diet," says Thacker. People suffering from liver problems, recuperating from hepatitis, crash dieters and vegetarians, are most prone to protein deficiency.

Get your dose
How do you ensure that you are consuming sufficient amounts of protein? Sources with high protein value include foods containing essential amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of all proteins. High value proteins are found in animal foods such as, eggs, meat, poultry, and fish. Milk, cheese, cottage cheese and yogurt are also good sources. Low value proteins are found in plant sources such as legumes, cereals, grains, nuts, seeds and vegetables.

Warning for vegetarians
Often vegetarians think that consuming two cups of dal in a day is sufficient to fulfil the protein requirement. However the reality is far from it. Nutritionist Pooja Singhania explains, "Due to the poor digestibility and absorption of pulses, the quantity required to be consumed is much more than that. It is important to support your diet with milk and milk products. Processed soyabean products are rich sources and must be consumed." In fact, food rich in protein provides greater satiety and aids weight loss. So don't give up on that glass of milk just because you have grown up.

Go for a total serum protein test if you have the above mentioned symptoms. This test measures the amounts of two major groups of proteins in the blood: Albumin and Globulin. Albumin keeps the blood from leaking out of blood vessels. It carries medicines through the blood and is important for tissue growth and healing. Globulin binds with hemoglobin, transport iron, and fights infection.

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