Any healthy diet needs balance – the right mix of vitamins and nutrients to keep us healthy and content. Not getting enough of what we need can lead to all kinds of problems. But then, what signs and symptoms should we be looking for?
We need to get about 10% of our total calories from protein, and we need to get that protein from a range of sources. This will help our body use the different proteins in all the different ways it needs to. These sources can be food or flavored or unflavored protein supplements. You can pick up these supplements in health food stores or online.
If we become deficient in protein, it can lead to a range of health problems. Take a look at them below.
You feel hungry.
It might sound obvious, but protein is one of the three primary sources of calories we find in our food – the other two being carbohydrates and fats. Even if you eat regularly and well, if you find yourself feeling hungry between meals, it’s likely that you’re not getting enough protein. Foods that are high in protein keep us feeling fuller for longer.
You get sick and stay sick.
People who don’t get enough protein find that if they get sick, even if it’s just a sniffle, it would be harder to fight off. This is because amino acids found in protein help us make the antibodies that get rid of bacteria and toxins.
Problems with your skin, hair, and nails
Skin, hair, and nails are all made primarily of proteins (elastin, keratin, and collagen), so being deficient in protein can lead to hair breakage and thinning, skin peeling or becoming dry, and nails cracking and becoming brittle. If you have any of these symptoms, see your doctor. There could be other causes that it’s essential to rule out.
You’re weak and tired.
Not eating enough protein can have a rapid and noticeable impact on your muscles and movement, especially for older people. Protein helps us maintain our muscle mass. Not getting enough can make us physically weaker, slow down our metabolism, and even make it challenging to balance. Long-term, it can also lead to anemia, which leads to feelings of extreme tiredness.
You get moody.
That’s right. Not having enough protein in your diet can affect your mind as well as your body. In the brain, information travels via chemicals called neurotransmitters. These chemicals are mostly made up of amino acids, which are found in protein. See where we’re going with this? Not eating enough protein means your body simply can’t make enough neurotransmitters to keep your brain functioning well, and you might feel depressed, sad, or irritable.
Your feet swell.
Swelling, or edema, is common in people with protein deficiencies. This is because a protein called albumin, which circulates around the body in the blood, stops fluid from building up in our extremities. No protein means the fluid simply builds up, causing swelling in the legs, feet, hands, and abdomen. As with skin, hair, and nail issues, several other conditions could be causing your edema, so if you spot any swelling, see your doctor as soon as possible.