What do Proteins do?

October 03, 2009
We know we need proteins for dietary nutrition and that we can get them from food sources like beef, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, nuts and seeds or legumes. When we eat these foods, the stomach and intestines work to break it down into amino acids. It is the amino acids that are reused in the body to form the proteins that the body needs. But what is it that they do in the body? Scientifically, proteins are large organic compounds comprised of amino acids that are arranged in linear pairs. The compounds are joined together by peptide bonds of carboxyl and amino groups of adjacent residues of amino acids. In layman's terms they are important in the overall health condition of a person. The functions of proteins in the body vary from regulation of body functions, the growth or repair or even replacement of tissues, production of hemoglobin and the creation of hormones or enzymes. They even work to remove toxins from our body by signalling cells to remove damaged tissue and then to repair the damage. Proteins are the foundation on which our bodies are based on and built from.

Proteins that assist chemical reactions and do not alter through that reaction are enzymes. Some proteins act as chemical messengers by travelling from tissues or organs and back again or to another. These are known as hormones and some take part in important regulation of bodily functions such as insulin, which regulates the release of glucose into the bloodstream. In fact, the first insulin protein that was discovered was the insulin protein.

The enzymes are responsible for deciding which cells will be doing what function and when to do it. It is the enzymes that make sure, through chemical reaction, to cause the cells to function at a certain time and place. If the enzymes were not supervising all of the actions taking place then dysfunction would occur and body function would not take place correctly or balanced and we would be in a serious situation.

Most proteins are flexible and can open or close, change shape or twist and bend. The reason for this is so that they can grab and then release or they can pull and push. These abilities of proteins are special in itself and can cause a great motivation to the functions in the body.

The chemical reactions that proteins are responsible for require oxygen in order to burn the nutrient for conversion to energy that the body can use. The studies of how proteins accomplish this are quite involved even to experts, but much is known about them. There are thousands of proteins just in the metabolism pathways alone.

The blood usually is the carrier for hormone signalling to the cells in the body. One nerve cell will signal to another nerve cell in some occasions. Interactions between proteins are usually done within signalling pathways in a cell.

Proteins are necessary for the core functions in our body and without them our body would be in complete disorder. Humans are largely composed of proteins and they are everywhere in our body performing the regulatory duties.


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