Want ripped muscles and lower blood sugar? These food sources of 9 essential proteins give you that and immunity, stress relief

Kirti Pandey

There are a total of 20 amino acids that the human body requires to produce all the proteins needed to function and grow. Some of those, our body synthesises inside the body. The 9 that our body needs from food sources are listed below.

We all learn in school about amino acids being the building blocks of protein and therefore life itself. We learnt of the “vital amines” that Dr Casimir Funk discovered in 1912 — calling them the family of organic substances that are essential for life.

Proteins are one of the three macronutrients, along with fats and carbohydrates, that make up the bulk of the human diet. And yes, We see bodybuilders sing praises of these vital amino acids since protein is critical for building muscle mass. It does not take necessarily a passion for developing ripped muscles. Our mothers seek out vitamin-enriched milk additions that have “essential” amino acids that are crucial to countless biological processes in our bodies such as giving cells their structure, forming organs and muscles, repairing tissue, producing energy, and more, reports

There are a total of 20 amino acids that human bodies require to produce all the proteins needed to function and grow. Here’s what you need to know about them—including the benefits of the nine amino acids that are considered “essential.”

Essential versus nonessential amino acids:
All 20 amino acids are vital to optimise body functions, however, some of these are produced naturally by your body. That is why they are called nonessential amino acids. There are some that are considered conditionally essential amino acids, meaning that they’re nonessential (i.e., your body produces them) except under specific circumstances, such as illness or stress. The nine essential amino acids, on the other hand, cannot be created by the body and must always be obtained from food.

The 9 essential amino acids and their food sources:

  1. Histidine: Precursor to the neurotransmitter histamine, histidine is needed for the growth and repair of tissue, particularly for the maintenance of myelin sheaths—sleeves of fatty tissue that protect nerve cells, ensuring that they’re able to send and receive messages. It has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and has been studied for its protective effects in chronic disease, and in the production of red and white blood cells. Good food sources of histidine: lamb, pork, chicken, turkey, tuna, salmon, cheese, yoghurt, milk, eggs, tofu, soybeans, beans, lentils, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, peanuts, quinoa, wild rice, brown rice, spirulina, wheat germ.
  2. Isoleucine: Isoleucine is an essential amino acid. It may help how haemoglobin is made. This is the oxygen-carrying pigment inside red blood cells. It may help control blood sugar. It may also boost energy and endurance. It’s heavily concentrated in the muscle tissue and plays an important role in muscle metabolism, providing your muscles with the appropriate fuel to do work. Isoleucine is also involved in blood clot formation and is crucial for the production of haemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout the body. Good food sources of isoleucine: lamb, pork, poultry, tuna, seafood (tuna, cod, haddock), eggs, milk, yoghurt, cheese, soybeans, beans, lentils, oats, dried spirulina, seaweed, sunflower and sesame seeds.
  3. Leucine: Vital for muscle repair and growth, and for building muscle mass. Leucine helps produce growth hormones; prompts insulin release, which plays a key role in regulating blood sugar levels and energy levels and helps promote the healing of muscle tissue, skin, and bones after trauma or severe stress. Good food sources of leucine: lamb, poultry, pork, tuna, shrimp, gelatin, collagen, soybeans, beans, lentils, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, pistachios, almonds, peanuts, spirulina, corn, wheat germ, quinoa, brown rice.
  4. Lysine: Vital to the production process of various hormones, enzymes, and antibodies. It plays an important role in the immune system and has antiviral properties, helping slow the growth of the virus in the human body. Lysine is also crucial for the production of collagen—the most abundant protein in the body that gives structure to ligaments, tendons, skin, hair, nails, cartilage, organs, bones, and more. Works well in coordination with Vitamin C. Lysine plays a role in mental health, too, helps reduce anxiety and levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Good food sources of lysine: lamb, poultry, pork, tuna, shrimp, cheese, eggs, gelatin, collagen, soybeans, pumpkin seeds, pistachios, lentils, beans, oats, wheat germ, quinoa, spirulina
  5. Methionine: This is the only amino acid that is sulfur-containing and serves as a precursor for all other sulfur-containing amino acids and their derivatives. Plays a powerful antioxidant role in the body, protecting cells from free radical damage. Building upon its detoxifying properties, sulfur-containing methionine also chelates heavy metals like lead and mercury and helps remove them from the body. Vital for liver function, and healthy hair and nails. Good food sources of methionine: lamb, pork, poultry, tuna, salmon, shrimp, eggs, cheese, yoghurt, milk, Brazil nuts, soybeans, tofu, beans, lentils, quinoa, wheat germ, spirulina, peanuts
  6. Phenylalanine: The essential amino acid phenylalanine plays a key role in the creation of other amino acids, including tyrosine that aids the production of the neurotransmitters dopamine, norepinephrine (noradrenaline), and epinephrine (adrenaline)—and thus plays a role in regulating mood and emotional response, as well as the body’s fight-or-flight response. Good food sources of phenylalanine: lamb, pork, poultry, cheese, tuna, salmon, eggs, milk, yoghurt, gelatin, collagen, soybeans, tofu, pumpkin seeds, peanuts, almonds, pistachios, cashews, quinoa, wild rice, brown rice, oats, wheat germ, spirulina
  7. Threonine: Plays a central role in the production of collagen and elastin, which help provide structure and stretchiness to skin and connective tissues. Threonine is used to treat various nervous system disorders including mild depression, spinal spasticity, multiple sclerosis, familial spastic paraparesis, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease). Vital to maintaining a healthy gut and digestive tract as well. Good food sources of threonine: lamb, pork, poultry, salmon, tuna, shrimp, cheese, gelatin, collagen, soybeans, tofu, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flaxseeds, peanuts, pistachios, cashews, almonds, beans, lentils, spirulina, wheat germ.
  8. Tryptophan: The immediate precursor of serotonin, tryptophan has been used for improving sleep because serotonin is known to have multiple functions such as the regulation of wake and sleep states, appetite, mood, and pain (especially menses related), and which has natural sedative effects. Tryptophan is also a precursor to melatonin, a hormone that (along with serotonin) regulates our sleep and wake cycles—that is why one feels sleepy after a heavy poultry-based meal that is tryptophan-rich. Good food sources of tryptophan: poultry, lamb, pork, tuna, salmon, shrimp, cheese, eggs, soybeans, tofu, beans, lentils, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, pistachios, cashews, almonds, wheat germ, oats, spirulina.
  9. Valine: Valine helps promote muscle growth, increase athletic performance, and boost the immune system. Valine may help treat malnutrition due to drug addiction. Good food sources of Valine: lamb, pork, poultry, tuna, salmon, cheese, eggs, milk, yoghurt, gelatin, collagen, soybeans, mushrooms, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, pistachios, cashews, wild rice, quinoa, brown rice, beans, lentils, oats, cooked broccoli, wheat germ, spirulina.

Bottom line: Take supplements for these 9 essential amines ONLY if your doctor suggests. Otherwise, you can definitely obtain healthy levels of all nine essential amino acids in a healthy, varied diet—whether your meal is nonvegetarian or not.

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