In the land of blended meals, we all have a concern to tube feed nutritious, well-balanced meals.  Protein is an absolutely essential  part of our diets. Let me immediately attribute many of the facts in this post to WEBMD, an excellent resource.

According to WebMD: About 15% of our body weight is protein.  It is in every cell of our bodies.  Protein provides energy, breaks down toxins, repairs bones and muscles. It has a wide variety of uses and functions, including providing energy, helping to build the structural skeleton of cells, moving molecules from one place to another.

According to the Institute of Medicine, the recommended daily allowance for an average adult man is 56 grams per day. Adult women need 46 grams, teenage boys 52, and infants 10.

Again from WebMD: In general, it’s recommended that 10% to 35% of your daily calories come from protein.  Most Americans fall well within that range, getting about 12%-18% of their calories as protein.

I know that as I make blended meals for my 13 year old daughter, I have wondered at times if I am giving her too much protein in the quest to provide adequate calories for a growing body!  Most of the time too much protein is not an issue. If the protein comes from animal sources, it MIGHT be high in saturated fat which can lead to high cholesterol levels and heart disease.  We have all heard on the news what a burgeoning problem this is in today’s overweight youth.  Some sources however, indicate that SUGAR consumption has more to do with high cholesterol than high fat consumption.  Too much protein can also cause problems for people with specific medical conditions, such as kidney disease or diabetes.

Again from WEBMD:  Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins.  There are about 20 different amino acids, and your body needs all of them. Your body can build SOME amino acids, others have to come from the food you eat. They are known as “essential” amino acids because it’s “essential” that they come from your diet.  (I found that very interesting, because I used to think “essential” meant critical or most important.) A “complete” protein includes all nine essential amino acids.  Animal-based foods (eggs, cheese, meat) tend to have complete proteins.

More from WEBMD: “Incomplete” protein sources are low in one or more of the essential amino acids. Beans and tofu are considered good sources of protein but are incomplete protein sources since they contain lower amounts of some essential amino acids. They can still be important sources of protein, especially if you combine proteins that are “complementary” (that is, when eaten together, they supply all nine essential amino acids).  Rice and beans, and peanut butter and whole wheat bread, are examples.  Strict vegetarians should pay special attention to which protein combinations are complementary.

It was once thought that you had to eat complementary proteins as part of the same meal for your body to process them as a complete protein.  More recent research suggests you only need to eat them on the same day.

So, if you are using a bean or edamame recipe and want to add rice to provide all the essential amino acids, that would work and you don’t HAVE to do it in the same meal.  A food mill is good for preparing rice for tube feeding. More on that  in another post.

More from WEBMD: The human body does not store proteins the way that it stores carbohydrates and fats.  For this reason, and because the body is continuously breaking down and replacing proteins, you need a steady supply of protein every day.

For example, a typical day of protein intake of 50 grams would include:  Chicken, 3 ounces, 21 grams
two large eggs, 13 grams
2 tablespoons of peanut butter, 8 grams
8 ounces of yogurt, 8 grams

More protein posts to come….


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