Now that we are onto the topic of amino acids and proteins in my biochemistry course, I found it only appropriate to share some interesting facts about protein that I discovered . I’m sure at least one will interest you!
- Proteins can have really weird names. For example, the protein Pikachurin is a retinal protein that was named after a Pokémon character Pikachu and the protein Sonic Hedgehog was named after Sonic the Hedgehog. There is also a blue protein that is named Ranasmurfin, after the Smurfs.
- Protein is found in each of the trillions of cells in the human body. Life would not be possible without proteins. Water is the only other substance which is as abundant in the body. Approximately 18-20% of the body is protein by weight.
- In 2010, 20-year-old athlete Ben Pearson tried to increase his protein intake to boost muscle development. However, no one knew he had a rare genetic disorder that prevented his body from breaking down protein.
The increased protein intake increased ammonia levels in his blood that caused brain swelling and death. (Read more of his story here: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/w_DietAndFitness/high-protein-diet-linked-hockey-players-death/story?id=11815908)
- Hair is made up of a protein called keratin, which forms a helical shape. This protein has sulfur bonds, and the more sulfur links it has, the curlier a person’s hair will be. I guess my hair has A LOT of sulfur links!
- One of the smallest countries in the world, Luxembourg, is per capita the biggest meat eater. Luxembourgers eat on average about 300 pounds of meat annually per person. The U.S. comes in second with about 276 pounds of meat—mostly beef—per year. Austria is third with about 267 pounds of animal protein per person.
- Cow used to be the global leader in meat eaten. The pig is now the most popular.
- Without a protein called Albumin, the entire human body would swell.
- Cataracts are caused by the denaturation of proteins in the lenses of the eyes.
- Insects are more nutritious than many other common forms of protein. For example, 100 grams of top sirloin beef contain 29 grams of protein and 21 grams of fat. However, 100 grams of grasshopper contain 20 grams of protein and just 6 grams of fat.
- A protein in semen acts on the female brain to prompt ovulation.
- The human body has about 100,000 different types of protein. The body needs protein to grow, heal, and carry about nearly every chemical reaction in the body.
- Protein deficiency can cause serious health problems. For example, children with a protein deficiency could develop a condition known as Kwashiorkor. The symptoms include a protruding belly, thin hair, overall weight loss, and discolored skin and hair. Left untreated, it can lead to stunted growth, mental impairments, and death
- Middle- aged and elderly people have more extensive body breakdown than a younger person, which means they need more protein. However, as people enter middle age, hydrochloric acid, which helps digest protein in the stomach, drops to half its regular level. Because protein is crucial in cell regeneration, some researchers suggest that most of aging is due to this drop alone.
- Eating too much protein can be dangerous for the body. For example, high levels of protein can stress the livers and kidneys because they have to work extra hard to dismantle and dispose of the extra protein. Excess protein can result in weight gain.
- Proteins in the human body have many jobs. For example, a protein called rhodopsin in our eyes helps us see light. Hemoglobin in red cells carries oxygen from the lungs to the body’s cells and takes away their harmful waste product, carbon dioxide. A series of chemical reactions involving proteins makes the blood clot. Additionally, proteins give the body structure, help regulate body processes, defend against disease, maintain the body’s internal environment, and give us energy
- While human meat is a good source of high-quality protein, cannibalism was not historically motivated by diet or starvation. Rather it was a symbolic gesture, usually as a way to commune with the gods.
Well, if you didn’t know any of these things..