Statistics indicate that approximately one billion people worldwide live with a protein deficiency. This deficiency is often associated with poor diet, low-quality protein intake, celiac disease, or even Crohn’s disease. And symptoms such as developmental delay, lack of energy and activity, and unnecessary weight loss are common. Additionally, older people with protein deficiencies have a higher risk of bone fracture, skin fragility, and lengthy recovery from illnesses. Here are other signs of protein deficiency you should take note of.
- Loss of muscle mass
Muscle contains the most protein in the entire body. When protein intake plummets, the body must utilize skeletal muscle reserves. Therefore, a lack of protein in your diet can lead to a loss of muscle mass. In adults and young children, severe protein deficiency can lead to muscle wasting. Affected people may notice one leg or arm is smaller than the other. It’s also not unusual to experience facial weakness, tingling or numbness in your legs and arms, and gradual memory loss. You can also experience difficulty speaking or swallowing, so keep this in mind.
Edema is one of the first symptoms of protein deficiency, characterized by a buildup in tissues, especially in the legs and abdomen. The marked reduction in protein can decrease serum albumin, the most important protein in blood and plasma. One of its functions is to maintain fluid circulation by maintaining osmotic pressure. Keeping fluids in your blood prevents them from pooling in any part of your body. As albumin decreases, osmotic pressure decreases fluid escapes from the bloodstream and accumulates in tissues. You may have edema if you notice puffiness and swelling in tissue under your skin, especially in your legs and arms. Also, shiny, stretched skin and abdominal swelling are signs of looking for.
- Frequent infections
Indeed, protein deficiency seriously affects the immune system, preventing it from fighting off infections and disease-causing microorganisms. And affected people have increased risks of developing frequent infections and other health problems. And prolonged attacks can affect their quality of life and shorten their lifespan.
- Increased appetite
Loss of appetite can characterize severe protein deficiency. However, increased appetite can become a symptom in mild to moderate cases. Following a low-protein diet can weaken your body and make it uncomfortable, causing you to eat more. However, overeating can also increase your risk of obesity, especially if you consume high-calorie foods.
- Moodiness and brain fog
Like neurotransmitters, proteins are made of amino acids, which control moods. Indeed, they are essential for synthesizing dopamine and serotonin, which keeps you happy and satisfied with life. Unfortunately, the opposite is true. Decreased protein in your diet can cause mood swings, affecting your relationships. Additionally, protein is also essential for many brain functions, including concentration and memory. Studies show that following a balanced diet that provides the body with its requirements of proteins is essential for boosting brain functions and, subsequently, for general performance. This explains why low concentration, brain fog, lack of excitement, and learning difficulty are signs of protein deficiency.
Protein deficiency can cause short-term and long-term symptoms. It increases the risk of cataracts, heart disease, and muscle wasting, all of which are common in older adults. People with the disease often experience weakness, fatigue, repeated infections, and thin skin due to a weakened immune system. Protein deficiency can be diagnosed medically, so keep this in mind. While this may seem unusual, a slight reduction in protein intake can adversely affect the immune system, body composition, recovery from injury, and fatigue.
Fortunately, protein deficiency can be corrected by increasing your protein intake. And you can achieve this in many ways. For instance, you can try meals like this slow cooker pork chops recipe. You can also include the following in your diet; seafood, tofu, seeds, eggs, beef, poultry, dairy, and beans. Seeing this variety, you can rest assured that you won’t run out of protein-rich meals anytime soon. However, meeting protein needs can be difficult for vegetarians and vegans. If you’re in this category, you can boost your daily protein intake by consuming tempeh, edamame, tofu, chickpeas, peanuts, lentils, quinoa, and so on.
It is recommended that more protein than the recommended daily intake may aid the healing process when recovering from injury. So, if your body is already in a protein-deficiency state, it takes a lot of planning and thought to ensure you’re meeting your protein needs and eating more than your recommended baseline. You’ll also find it beneficial to consult your healthcare provider for more helpful counsel.