There are 18 different amino acids, or protein types, that are the building blocks for a healthy body. Non-essential amino acids are proteins that the body can synthesize by itself, provided there is enough nitrogen, carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen available. Essential amino acids are proteins supplied by the food you eat. They must be consumed in your diet as the human body either cannot make them or cannot make them in sufficient quantities to meet your body’s needs.
Proteins act as enzymes, hormones, and antibodies for your immune system. They maintain fluid balance and keep the levels of acid and alkalinity in check. Proteins also transport substances such as oxygen, vitamins, and minerals to target cells throughout the body. Structural proteins, such as collagen and keratin, are responsible for the formation of bones, teeth, hair, and the outer layer of skin and they help maintain the structure of blood vessels and other tissues.
Enzymes are proteins that facilitate chemical reactions without being changed in the process.
Hormones (chemical messengers) are proteins that travel to one or more specific target tissues or organs, and many have important regulatory functions. Insulin, for example, plays a key role in regulating the amount of glucose in the blood.
The human body also uses protein to manufacture antibodies (giant protein molecules), which combat invading antigens. Antigens are usually foreign substances such as bacteria and viruses that have entered the body and could potentially be harmful. Immunoproteins, also called immunoglobulins or antibodies, defend your body from possible attack from these invaders by binding to the antigens and inactivating them.
If these critical components for a healthy body are not provided as part of a healthy diet, your body will look for other sources for them. This can include the breakdown of your organs, leading to chronic problems such as liver and kidney problems, diabetes, and heart disease.