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09 April 2011

Amino Acids: the building blocks of an Ikea shelf?

It is true the body requires protein to build healthy muscle, tissues and overall cellular health,  it is important to note that amino acids are the building blocks of protein.

Why is this important to consider?

Think of it this way. Consider amino acids as the pieces of the new shelving unit you just purchased at Ikea and the shelving unit itself is the protein.

Would you buy the unit assembled, bring it home, take it apart and then put it back together?

Let's hope not!

This is what occurs when you eat proteins such as meat, eggs, fish or chicken.

The body has to first breakdown the protein into amino acids, to then in turn be absorbed into your cells to build protein.

Yes it's true!

Consider some of these side effects of eating animal protein: indigestion, bloating, gas, acid reflux, among others.

The body is going through a digestive process, expending energy to work away at the foods eaten in order to obtain the highest nutrient dense value.

The point in this?

Efficiency. To fuel the body easily and efficiently consider eating foods rich in amino acid content as part of a well balanced diet.

Plant based foods including wheatgrass, green leafy vegetables such as kale and collards, aloe vera gel and coconut water are examples of amino acid rich foods. In fact all plant based foods are comprised of amino acids.

Is one way of eating better than the other?

Individual choices based on lifestyle, nutritional habits and environmental considerations all play a part in deciding the right food choices.

The body efficiently completes the amino acid mix based on the body's amino acid "pool" regardless of those consumed in one meal. Therefore the myth of "incomplete" proteins is just that, a myth! That is, eating a variety of amino acid rich foods as part of a well balanced diet and lifestyle provides the body the fuel it requires to build efficient protein.

Does this mean we should not eat "protein"rich foods?

Not necessarily. What this means is simply choose wisely accordingly to your health goals. And when looking at a larger global industry of sourcing these foods, take into consideration the "footprint" required to bring these items to your table.

For more information on amino acids including types of, sources of and benefits of, please visit

Thank you for reading! (...and enjoy your new shelving unit... ;)

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