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Protein is one of the human body's core components. This substance makes up approximately 15% of an average person's total body weight, acting as the major substance for muscle cell growth and repair. Protein is also composed of smaller building blocks known as amino acids, which are necessary for the production of many key bodily substances — for example, immune system antibodies, digestive enzymes, and hormones.
The human body can produce some amino acids on its own, but other amino acids must come from the protein in foods we eat. These are known as essential amino acids, and they typically are found in animal-based sources of protein, such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs, or dairy. Many other beneficial amino acids are available through plant-based protein sources, such as beans and legumes, nuts, seeds, grains, and fruits/vegetables.
According to the Harvard School of Public Health, we “need to eat a variety of protein-containing foods each day in order to get all the amino acids needed to make new protein.” Failure to consume enough protein can lead to a condition known as Kwashiorkor, which “often occurs during a drought or other natural disaster, or during political unrest”, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
In order to vary and maximize your protein intake, check out the following infographic. It contains 20 protein-rich foods to incorporate into your diet:
Several of these foods, such as dry beans, nuts, peanut butter, and beef jerky have a long shelf-life. For more shelf-stable food options, check out our article on shelf-stable survival food. Other sources of protein can be obtained in a survival situation by learning to hunt or fish. Either way, remember to keep your protein sources varied as much as possible.