The Impacts of Cooking and Processing on Digestibility of Protein

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Separate Protein Digestion and its Effects

Separate protein digestion begins in the stomach, where the body releases several substances to aid in the breakdown of proteins that will later become important to the body. According to research conducted by developing countries such as Brazil, Guatemala, and India, people in these countries rely more on traditional foods with poor protein digestibility than Northern American diets with high protein concentrations ranging from 54% to 94%.

Foods that are termed as traditional are generally based on natural cereals and legumes rich in small amounts of digestible proteins fractions, anti-nutritional elements, and insoluble fiber that delay the rate of digestion of protein. The different studies discussed help to identify the way different people, who are found in the different geographical areas, have different abilities in the way the proteins are digested in their body depending on the subsequent foods that they consume. This can be further explained as how the presence of an anti-nutritional element in proteins affects the digestibility of food.

Anti-Nutritional Factors and Their Effects

Anti-nutritional factors are mechanisms which are responsible for the anti-nutritional effects in different types of food. They are chemical compounds that can be synthesized in the natural food by mechanisms which exert effect contrary to the optimum nutrition (Gemede 2014, p.284). The factor is purely acquired in mustard and elements that have protein from legumes as hemagglutinins, in inhibitors of trypsin and in rapeseed in form of glucosinolates. Moreover, they have been found in oilseed as tannins and phytates respectively, and more cereals, also in protein products of cottonseed gossypol.

During chemical manufacturing and eating it can cause anti-nutritional elements to be formed mostly in foods that contain protein, lysinoalanine, types of oxidized sulfur amino acids, processing of Maillard complexes, and D-amino acids. Test results from pigs and rats revealed that the ability of proteins and amino acids to be digested is greatly reduced by the sharp concentration of nutritional inhibitors of trypsin. A similar effect was observed with high amounts of tannins that are located in cereals like sorghum, also fava bean which are legumes. Further studies concerning added levels of phytates production for poultry and pigs revealed separate evidence of lowered protein and amino acids digestion phytase supplemented to diets containing 8 g Ca/kg improved the tissue protein content of jejunal mucosa, but reduced the Ca-ATPase activity (Akter, 2017). In this case, a larger percentage of other chemicals in the foodstuff may inhibit the rate at which the proteins are being digested. There will appear a variety of chemicals which are not allowed to occur together as they may neutralize or destroy each other, therefore leading to a low production of each chemical that leads to a lower amount of chemicals being used to digest the proteins; hence, a lower amount of proteins is acted upon.

Oxidative Damage to DNA

In living cells radical formation is caused by these factors, outward factors, reactions due to biochemistry, and metabolic activities. In physiological activities, some radicals can be of importance. Due to these factors, the protection that is from the antioxidant protective system is not guaranteed. Experiments performed on animals revealed that the oxidation process is toxic to the DNA. Free radicals are involved in reactions that form radical oxygen species which are very toxic and this will result in oxidative damage to the molecules including the DNA and the proteins (Speakman, 2014).

In human tissues, oxidation causes the DNA to alter and this is found in the form of tumors in 105 undamaged nucleosides. Less priority is given to the oxidative changes base and sugars occurring in the DNA because its biological significance is not distinct. The occurrence of harmed oxidative DNA in humans is indicated by the following biomarkers, oxidized nucleoside appears, and repair base essentials in urine, and variations in DNA separated from the altered tissues or replacement cells like lymphocytes. To know the extent of damage and restoration biomarkers are mostly the indicators. In the study of essential factors in human beings biomarkers have been extensively used. On the other hand, studies have shown that DNA in humans is more resistant to oxidant challenge following antioxidant pre-treatment of cells (Bukhari, 2015). Recent studies allege that human DNA is actually damaged as a result of oxidation linked to carcinogenesis and mutagen processes. However, there is few research that fully approves the link.

Factors Affecting DNA Damage

The DNA components of both leukocytes and urinary are harmed by the oxidative process when ionised radiation is used. Smoking of tobacco has also caused the initiation of carcinogenic radicals that boost the speed of destruction via DNA oxidation by almost 35% to 50% due to the removal of 8-oxide in the urinary, and in the leukocytes removal of 8-oxodG by 20 to 50% (Swan, 2015). The scale at which the 8-oxodG is produced is almost connected to inner causes of radicals. No studies have achieved to illustrate that energy restraints, antioxidant supplements, and diet configurations can effectively alter the oxidative DNA. However, suggestions have been made that minimization of oxidative damage can be done by Brussels sprouts, and 8-oxodG that are in the sperm cell are able to be regulated by vitamin C. Oxidative damage of the DNA in the leukocytes can be reduced by the less taking of fats (Pereira, 2015). The possibility of DNA damage by increased oxidation, as well as reaching a point of inadequate repair, can be caused by diseases like autoimmune illnesses, cystic fibroids, compulsive hepatitis, and Fanconianemia.

DNA Damage and Cancer Risk

A study to contrast different types of DNA should be done in order to reinforce DNA destruction from oxidation as an individual possibility for cancer. Moreover, the aging process can be more affected by the resulting damage from oxidation particularly in relation to mitochondrial DNA, and the source of inflammatory disease. Colon cancer is caused by a thermolysin which was experimented on rats that had been introduced to azoxymethane; this type of cancer is also linked to aberrant crypt foci (ACF) (Schwarz, 2013). Colon cancer is linked to protein fermentation in the colon due to casein thermolysis which lowers the breakdown of protein, thus causing the heightening of protein quantities reaching the colon, which leads to fermentation and, consequently, generates toxins that will support colonic carcinogenesis.

The Effect of Fermentation on Colon Cancer

A variety of phenols and ammonia products are generated from the process of fermentation. Due to their toxic nature, these products are lethal and the possibility to cause cancer is high. Conducted studies show that a phenol known as indole-3-ol that results from tryptophan fermentation is linked to the inception of myelogenous leukemia in rats. Theoretical explanation of the relationship linking colon cancer and food is concluded in the tests conducted. Fermentation is increased in the colon where proteins are located when there is an intake of cooked meat proteins. Proteins thermolysed in a span of one hour will increase the fermentation process, also the elevation of ACF growth is at peak when thermolysis takes a period of close to two hours and beyond. After thermolysis, not all products of protein have indicated the likelihood of activating colon carcinogenesis (Levine, 2014). For example, proteins in soy and eggs show that they cause heightening of protein levels to ferment in the colon and do not promote colon carcinogenesis when thermolysed.

Beneficial Effects of Food Processing

Processed foods also have their beneficial effects too. For instance, stuffs obtained from plants having anti-nutrients and toxic elements such as legumes and cereals revealed that they have useful results when they are processed. Digestibility of these food substances is promoted by the following processes germination, drenching, heating, and fermentation. During these processes, inhibitive enzymes are destroyed making the foodstuffs risk-free. Food structures that are commonly acquired after traditional processing differ from the distinctive food structures created during food processing or cooking on digestibility of proteins (Shieh, 2015). When electric field strength, pressure, and temperature are applied to starch and proteins they tend to have differences in sensitivities, thus having an impact on their stability and in what manner they cross-link and relate to other compounds found in food. Therefore, this makes it is important to study how food processing influences starch and protein digestibility also on bioavailability of bio-actives in grain-based foods (Silva, 2017). Processing developments and questions such as nutritional values can be improved when there is reduced allergenicity of food like gluten due to the effects of food processing are covered in this paper. Knowledge of how alteration of proteins occurs when exposed to conditions of processing and effects of it on the digestibility of starch and proteins and bioactives available will assist in developing new products based on legume-based foods that contain high levels of protein.


In conclusion, the presence of anti-nutritional factors reveals that it affects proteins to be digested and amino acid availability. Through some chemical processes and heating, it has been clearly shown that anti-nutrients like D-amino acids are formed. Carcinogenesis has been connected to the formation of free radicals which are linked to the oxidation processes. Due to the process of protein thermolysis, it boosts indigestibility of which it reaches the colon and triggers the fermentation process generating products of fermentation that are related to carcinogenesis within the colon. On the other hand, some protein thermolyses are harmless.


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April 13, 2023

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