Category Archives: Isoleucine

Part 1: Eating Insects for Your Daily Amino Acids?

Pull up a chair and have a plate of bugs for breakfast?! Although this is not unrealistic or uncommon in most of the world, entomophagy (eating insects for food) brings a feeling of disgust for many in western societies, and a sourpuss face along with it! But eating insects is common to animals (insectivores), even other insects, as well as humans, and for good reasons.

Eating insects of many kinds brings to light the simple fact that they are full of protein and nutrition, and help sustain life. Vitamins, minerals, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, oleic acid, and amino acids are only part of the full story.

In fact, bugs may wind up being a part of the human diet in the future, as it is currently in many countries, and has been prehistorically commonplace for hominids, hominins (human line), throughout time.

The big questions about eating insects include…

What amino acids are present in bugs and are they available to the human body? Exactly what nutritional content is covered for human requirements by consuming edible insects? Eating insects may be good for you, but do they taste good?

According to my daughter, who went to Peru with my mom and some friends and ate a large white grub that is a common to the area for consumption, it tasted lovely, just like an almond. She said, “It tasted good!” However, she also nearly gagged and spit it out. Why? The texture was “too mushy,” she said. The last thing she was thinking about was the amino acid content of the grub! *smiles*

Eating insects raw, such as her raw grub from Peru, are not always necessary. Most people around the world eat them raw as well as roasted, baked, smoked, fried, boiled in salted water, and dried or sun-dried. Of course, most Americans have heard of chocolate covered ants or grasshoppers as a delicacy dessert (or given as a joke, although is a serious meal in other countries). Each method of preparation makes eating insects a different experience, taste, texture, and can be the difference between it tasting good or wanting to spit it out on the ground from whence it came.

Who wants to eat bugs anyway? Lots of people, especially considering they are as easy to scavenge as they are to grow and raise for food, and is easier than gardening or raising small livestock. It is also cheaper than buying food at the grocery store, although bugs-on-a-stick (or loose) of many varieties can be purchased at local markets in many countries, like is often seen in China or Thailand.

The fact is that many grubs, larvae, grasshoppers, caterpillars, termites, palm weevils, mealworms, and other bugs are packed with nutrition such as potassium, calcium, sodium, magnesium, phosphorous, zinc, manganese, and copper according to the FAO. Eating insects can also supply you with necessary iron and amino acids like lysine, things that vegans and vegetarians are often deficient in.

CONTININUE READING Part 2: Eating Insects for Your Daily Amino Acids?

Reference:

http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2FBF00805837

http://www.organicvaluerecovery.com/studies/studies_nutrient_content_of_insects.htm

http://www.fao.org/docrep/018/i3253e/i3253e06.pdf

Egg Protein Powder for Your Essential Amino Acids – the Superior Choice?

Egg protein powder has been on the market for years and although not as popular as whey protein, it should be a consideration for those who wish to get a near perfect protein with all the essential amino acids. Why? The pattern in the egg whites, the egg protein nearly matches human growth.

Even without the egg yolk to supplement the body with cholesterol and fats, the protein of the egg provides some amazing nutrient potential. A top quality egg protein powder, can provide a good source of vitamins A, B, D and E.

Egg white protein digests at a moderate pace. It also possesses a high level of sulfur which is essential to various hormonal pathways within the body which in turn, leads to increased muscle mass.

Egg white protein doesn’t cause nearly the problems of bloating as whey protein, and contains all the essential amino acids, unlike hemp or soy.  Egg protein possesses a bland to slightly salty taste and also can easily be made into custom mixes in a shaker or blender.

Of course there is a negative to every protein powder. All this egg protein goodness doesn’t come cheap and consumers should be wary of buying low-grade egg protein powders.

Cheaper products from factory-farmed eggs should be avoided, for chickens in “chicken factories” often live in polluted environments that may even be toxic.  Chickens and their eggs can carry diseases such as salmonella and infections. In addition, factory-farmed eggs may include low levels of antibiotics, or hormones, or other pharmaceuticals.

Is egg protein powder the superior alternative for amino acids?

Both whey and egg protein powders have all the essential amino acids, and if a person doesn’t mind consuming a little cholesterol at a lower price, whey protein is probably the standard from which all other protein powders are judged from.

Another popular plant based protein powder could be hemp. It is low in a couple of essential amino acids, particularly lysine.  But, hemp is also generally considered a superfood. It is high also in essential fatty acids which may sound bad, but actually is really good because of the high amount of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids that many people are deficient in.

Soy protein powder also lacks two essential amino acids in sufficient quantities—methionine and lysine, which are particularly low. For overweight women, especially, soy powder may be great for soy is known for speeding up thyroid function which may be great for those who wish to shed a few pounds while reducing cholesterol. Soy protein powders also may be hugely beneficial for menopausal women, for the isoflavones can reduce hot flashes.

Having made all these comparisons in a nutshell, if you are looking for a zero-cholesterol, animal-based protein powder with all the essential amino acids, egg protein powder is tough to beat for many consumers today.

References:

http://superhumancoach.com/pros-and-cons-of-egg-protein-powder/

http://www.livestrong.com/article/481383-what-are-the-benefits-of-egg-white-protein-powder/

http://bestproteintoday.com/tag/amino-acids/

http://www.goodhempnutrition.com/content/68-what-is-hemp-protein

http://www.livestrong.com/article/467660-the-benefits-and-drawbacks-of-soy-protein-powder-in-women/

Amino Acids as Anti-Inflammatory Pain Relief

Did you know that amino acids can be used for pain relief? People often will take over the counter painkillers like acetomenaphen (e.g., Tylenol), or anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen (e.g., Advil), but a natural source of analgesics with some anti-inflammatory effects include amino acids. Amino acids are known as the building blocks of proteins, but they serve many functions in the body, especially to the organs and brain, or even the muscles and nerves. Taking amino acid supplements can sometimes aid the body to ward off pain and inflammation, just like a natural painkiller.

There are a couple of studies that tested amino acids like L-isoleucine, which can act as an agent for pain relief, and so prostaglandin was studied to see the effectiveness of L-isoleucine for the analgesic (painkilling) and anti-inflammatory properties. In order to understand how this works we must understand how prostaglandin works…

Prostaglandins are lipid compounds that work on-site like Aspirin; however, they are enzymatically derived (from fatty acids). Although prostaglandins work in a variety of ways, one of them is by acting as an analgesic, or natural pain reliever. Analgesics help your body achieve analgesia—relief from pain.

When there is an injury or you are will, the prostaglandins (whether due to amino acids or medicine) do not get secreted from the gland, but instead are chemically made on-site so they can be used exactly where they are needed, such as to control or reduce inflammation.

Amino acids studied as analgesics (pain relievers)

One study by E Ricciotti and GA FitzGerald regarding prostaglandins showed that they can act as a natural painkiller and help reduce the anti-inflammatory response. The researchers said, “prostaglandins may function in both the promotion and resolution of inflammation.” But amino acids may also cause a bodily anti-inflammatory response.

In a different study, four amino acids were investigated. The scientists RN Saxena, VK Pendse, and NK Khanna “Orally administered L-isoleucine, DL-isoleucine and L-leucine [which] exhibited anti-inflammatory activity in many test models of inflammation except formaldehyde-induced inflammation. L-beta-phenylalanine inhibited carrageenan-induced oedema only.”

Interestingly, it was the L-isoleucine that showed an extended analgesic (painkiller) result. Meanwhile, DL-isoleucine did have a short-lasting effect.

Unlike some supplements, the amino acids did not cause gastric ulceration nor did it promote acute toxicity in the doses that suppressed inflammation effectively. The researchers’ assessment on the painkilling amino acids included that the “anti-inflammatory activity seems to be related with interference with the action and/or synthesis of prostaglandins and deserves further intensive study.”

Of course, it depends on the problem and which amino acids you can use to act as a natural painkiller against it, so more research will continue in this area as time progresses.

References:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6335992

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21508345

Lower Blood Sugar – Essential Amino Acids and Diabetes

The question of whether essential amino acids and diabetes had a relationship was a question asked by researchers at the Biochemistry Research Department, part of the Vision Research Foundation in Chennai, India. What they wanted to look at was testing of free amino acids in type 2 diabetic patients to see if oral supplementation would affect these patients.

Diabetes is a disease where too much sugar (glucose) is in the blood. Some people can have type 1 diabetes from childhood, or get it later, but type 2 diabetes is more common, and is typically developed, chronic, and lifelong as well. Technically diabetes mellitus (DM) is a metabolic disease, where the body is unable to produce enough (or any) insulin, which causes these very high glucose levels in blood plasma of patients who have it.

In 2007, the amount of people diagnosed with diabetes, who were 20 years or older, equaled about 1.6 million. Today, in the United States alone, about 7.8 percent of the population—approx. 23.6 million people—have this serious and lifelong disease. The question of essential amino acids and diabetes comes into play because of glucose and insulin.

Insulin, the pancreas, and glucose

Insulin is a hormone created by the pancreas, which must be present in order for glucose to get into our cells (used by the body as food). However, with diabetes, the produces little to no insulin, so the cells do not respond properly, then glucose builds up in the blood and is excreted through the urine; therefore, even though the body has a large amount of glucose, all of that energy is lost. The hope, according to the scientists in India who wanted to test essential amino acids and diabetes, was that amino acids might help with blood glucose levels.

Essential amino acids and diabetes

In a pilot clinical trial the researchers, Sulochana K Natarajan, S Lakshmi, et al., had tested the glucose levels in the blood plasma of Streptozotocin-induced rats that were diabetic. Whether essential amino acids and diabetes, where the former would affect the latter, were related was the question, so they designed an oral test to determine if the effect of such amino acid supplements would help patients that had type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM).

77 subjects with type 2 diabetes participated for two months in a double blind pilot clinical trial. Both sexes, between the ages of 30-60, were involved in the trial and received oral antidiabetic tablets. The essential amino acids and diabetes link was examined by dividing the patients into two groups based on oral supplementation.

The supplements for essential amino acids and diabetes testing included:

1. Lysine

2. Essential amino acids

3. Amino acids and (fat-and-water-soluble) vitamins

4. Calcium phosphate (the control)

Regarding essential amino acids and diabetes, “essential” means that these aminos must be gotten from food or supplements since the body cannot produce them on its own.

Essential amino acids typically include:

Arginine
Carnitine
Histidine
Homocysteine
Isoleucine
Leucine
Lysine
Methionine
Phenylalanine
Taurine
Threonine
Trypthophan
Valine

The scientists tested the subjects who had essential amino acids and diabetes were examined for: fasting and post-prandial plasma glucose, plasma amino acids, glycosylated haemoglobin (HbA1c), fasting and post-prandial immunoreactive insulin, urea and creatinine in plasma and sugar, proteins and albumin, plus ketones and proteins.

The results of the trial “revealed a significant decrease in post-prandial plasma glucose (P<0.05) in group B when compared to groups C and D after 45 days. Plasma Arginine was increased in group C from 3.84 to 9.24 mg/dl.” Additionally, the patients having oral essential amino acids and diabetes (type 2) showed a “decrease … [in] plasma glucose without any change in plasma insulin levels, perhaps due to improved insulin sensitivity.”

Although this is good news regarding essential amino acids and diabetes, the long term effects of essential amino acids needs continued study.

References:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11887024

http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/overview/

Help COPD with Amino Acids for Lung Disease

According to some researchers and there are a few amino acids for lung disease that exist and may help such issues. COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is one of these lung conditions may be aided by amino acid supplements; in particular, those with even severe COPD. This lung disease affects the ability to breath and also reduces energy levels in those who have it. COPD may have different causes, but it can be a result of smoking cigarettes long term, as well as conditions such as emphysema. 

According to one study by RW Dal Negro, A Testa, et al., in Italy it was amino acids for lung disease that helped the patients with COPD. By supplementing COPD patients with certain essential amino acids they were able to determine if pulmonary rehabilitation might have improved health status and produce higher rates of physical performance.

Essential amino acids are several of the 22 commonly known amino acids. “Essential” means that they have to be gotten through diet since the body cannot produce them on its own. The list of essential amino acids may include: Valine, Threonine, Methionine, Leucine, Isoleucine, Phenylalanine, Tryptophan, Lysine, and Histidine.

Amino acids for lung disease – chronic COPD

A total of 88 COPD out-patients who had a 23 BMI (body mass index) or less were selected randomly to receive essential amino acids for lung disease (COPD) for a period of three months. After 12 weeks of the test period the patients receiving amino acids for lung disease had showed significant improvements in physical performance.

Also, the COPD patients scored higher on the SGRQ score (which measures breathing). Additionally, other areas were affected positively, as compared to the placebo group, who had taken the essential amino acids for lung disease (COPD), including improvements in: fat-free mass, serum albumin, increased muscle strength, oxygen saturation, and cognitive dysfunction.

The results produced greater confidence levels in the patients and the researchers for improvements in these symptoms that COPD usually negatively affects its patients. Essential amino acids may, then, help reduce symptoms of COPD, so it is clear that amino acids for lung disease can aid the patient in breathing easier as well as help their physical performance in a number of areas.

Source:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23193843

Essential Amino Acid Supplements and the Elderly

The world population is aging. More seniors are experiencing happy, active golden years, and many of us are caring for our elderly parents. Are there any amino acid supplements to help the elderly enjoy their lives to the fullest?

Birth rates are falling, and life expectancy is rising. In Canada today, there are as many people over the age of 65 as there are under the age of 16. This is great news for us all, as we can look forward to longer lives. But are there specific nutritional concerns we should be aware of?

Seniors are prone to muscle loss and muscle wastage, especially if they are ill or bedridden.  This muscle loss, or sarcopenia, can be debilitating, and if untreated can lead to dependence and a reduction in quality of life.

Muscle loss can be treated with a suitable exercise, healthy diet, and amino acid supplements or other supplements.

Essential amino acid supplements, are very useful for people who have lost their appetites and are not getting adequate nutrition. But can supplements treat muscle loss?

Muscles are built from protein, and protein is built from amino acids. We synthesize some of these amino acids in our bodies—the non-essential amino acids—but we must get many of them from the food we eat. These are known as essential amino acids, and these are often available as supplements.

Essential amino acid supplements – a good choice for muscle loss

Researchers (Elena Volpi, Hisamine Kobayashi, et al) published a report in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition where they examined the amino acids responsible for stimulating muscle protein in elderly people. Healthy elderly subjects were chosen, and given essential amino acid supplements. The amino acids included:

  • histidine
  • isoleucine
  • leucine
  • lysine
  • methionine
  • phenylalanine
  • threonine
  • tryptophan
  • valine

Their muscle production was measured over time.

Results were positive. The essential amino acid supplements stimulated the production of muscle protein. The best results were from an essential amino acid supplement without carbohydrates.

Sources: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3192452/

Amino Acid Supplement Improves Health: Study

An Australian study into amino acid depletion and sub-health has found promising results with a complex amino acid supplement.

Sub-health is an intermediate state between health and disease. Sub-health can be a chronic condition, usually indicated by low energy, loss of vitality, altered sleeping patterns, and increased incidence of viral infections. Sub-health can also lead to the debilitating medical conditions of chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia.

Many illnesses can result in amino acid depletion. Amino acid imbalance is often found in cancer-related fatigue, for example. Could amino acid imbalance also result from sub-health? If so, would correcting this imbalance improve health?

Some amino acids are synthesized in the body, but the essential amino acids are obtained through food.

If people are unable to ingest the correct quantities of essential amino acids in their diet, they are often given amino acid supplements to correct the imbalance. However, these supplements contain a complex formula of ingredients. In addition to perfecting the formula, developers must ensure the taste is palatable.

Amino acid supplement study

Researchers (R Dunstan, S Sparkes, et al) with the School of Environmental and Life Sciences, University of Newcastle, Australia, developed a study into the new, broad-spectrum amino acid dietary supplement, Fatigue Reviva (developed by TOP Nutrition Pty Ltd).

17 men reporting symptoms of sub-health took part in the 30 day trial. After the trial, 65% of the study group reported that their energy levels had significantly improved.

Urinary amino acid analysis revealed that the supplement increased the levels of valine, isoleucine and glutamic acid, and reduced levels of glutamine and ornithine.

However, some participants reported gastrointestinal symptoms. The researchers believed these symptoms were caused by the prebiotic fructooligosaccharide, an ingredient in the supplement. Further product development is needed for those patients susceptible to fructooligosaccharide.

The study concluded that this amino acid supplement could prevent fatigue, and increase wellbeing, for patients with symptoms of sub-health.

Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23927677

4 Amino Acids: Natural Painkiller-Analgesic and Anti-Inflammatory

Amino acids, like L-isoleucine, may act as a natural painkiller. There are actually a number of amino acids that are involved, and a study was done regarding prostaglandin to see just how much of an analgesic (natural painkiller) and anti-inflammatory these really are.

In order to understand the study done on the amino acids and how they deal with inflammation and work as an analgesic, or natural painkiller, we must understand prostaglandin.

Prostaglandins are on-site lipid compounds work like Aspirin. They are enzymatically derived from fatty acids to serve important bodily functions. Prostaglandins work in a number of ways, but one of them is as a natural painkiller, or analgesic. Analgesics are usually drugs that help your body achieve analgesia (relief from pain).

When injured or ill, prostaglandins—from the 4 amino acids or otherwise—are not secreted from a gland, but are chemically made on-site and used specifically where needed. One of their purposes is to control inflammation.

Amino acids – natural painkiller and anti-inflammatory properties

According to a study done by E Ricciotti and GA FitzGerald on prostaglandins, they act as a natural painkiller and carry an anti-inflammatory response. They said, “prostaglandins may function in both the promotion and resolution of inflammation.” Amino acids can also have an anti-inflammatory response.

In a separate study, RN Saxena, VK Pendse, and NK Khanna “Orally administered L-isoleucine, DL-isoleucine and L-leucine exhibited anti-inflammatory activity in many test models of inflammation except formaldehyde-induced inflammation. L-beta-phenylalanine inhibited carrageenan-induced oedema only.”

However, it was L-isoleucine that exhibited a prolonged analgesic (natural painkiller) effect. In the meantime, DL-isoleucine had a short-lasting effect.

Luckily the amino acids caused no gastric ulceration or acute toxicity in the doses that effectively suppresses inflammation. Their final assessment on these natural painkiller amino acids were that the “anti-inflammatory activity seems to be related with interference with the action and/or synthesis of prostaglandins and deserves further intensive study.”

References:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6335992

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21508345

Exercise and Branched-chain Amino Acid (BCAA) Supplements Prevent Cardiac Atrophy

Cardiac atrophy–the wasting of the heart muscles–can lead to a variety of cardiovascular conditions. But supplementing with branched-chain amino acids (BCAA), along with a program of exercise, can restore the heart and promote circulation again.

Cardiac atrophy is usually caused by prolonged bed rest, though astronauts living in microgravity are affected by atrophy.  People with congenital heart disease may also develop cardiac atrophy.

This atrophy means the heart muscles are deteriorating. They shrink, and the heart loses volume. As the muscles waste, the heart loses strength, and blood pressure is affected. This weakens the entire cardiovascular system. The reduced blood pressure results in orthostatic hypotension, where the brain isn’t getting enough blood, often resulting in dizziness, lightheadedness, and even fainting. But can BCAA supplements help?

Prolonged bed rest therefore is not good for the heart. However, it is prescribed for several medical conditions, including some complications in pregnancy. Coma and stroke patients, too, often spend long periods supine. BCAA supplementation was tested in a study for cardiac atrophy.

TA Dorfman, BD Levine, et al, researchers at the Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine, Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas, USA, developed a study to examine the effects of exercise and nutritional supplementation of proteins and branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) on women with cardiac atrophy.

Healthy volunteers were recruited. Their heart volumes were measured, then they were subjected to 60 days of 6 degrees head-down tilt bed rest. They were divided into exercise and BCAA supplement groups, and a control group.

Does BCAA help prevent cardiac atrophy?

The control group all suffered cardiac atrophy due to the prolonged bed rest. Both left ventricular and right ventricular volumes in their hearts were decreased. The exercise group, who used a supine treadmill, had no atrophy. The protein and BCAA supplement group also saw no reduction in either left or right ventricular mass. However, with the group who received only BCAA supplementation, and no exercise, the heart did lose some volume.

In conclusion, exercise is absolutely vital to prevent cardiac atrophy in long-duration bed rest. BCAA supplements are beneficial, especially when combined with an exercise program.

Source:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17379748

Table of Amino Acid Abbreviations

Students and teachers come together with terms like “Amino acid abbreviations” – but scientists use these abbreviated forms to refer to the 20+ names of amino acids as well.

Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, and they can be gotten from food. Before we get into the amino acid abbreviations you may want to know that there are two main types of amino acids (with a few exceptions)…

Essential and Non-essential amino acids

Essential amino acids does not mean they are “essential” as in necessary… it simply means that they can only be gotten from the food you eat so must be included through diet or dietary supplementation. Protein foods like meats (beef, chicken, pork, etc.) and eggs, as well as fish, are excellent sources of amino acids. Many meat-eating Americans actually eat an overabundance of protein compared with what the human body requires, which can lead to acidity (which leads to disease), cardiovascular and other diseases.

Non-essential amino acids are those that your body can produce naturally. Occasionally, someone is born with a deficiency in their body’s ability to produce the amino acids necessary for proper functioning, leading to diseases or disorders where people have trouble breaking down certain amino acids. An example of the latter is Maple Syrup Urine Disorder (MSUD) which is what newborn babies are screened for soon after birth.

There are 22 different amino acids in all (some of them semi-essential), but about 20 of them are more common. Their names, 3-letter, and 1-letter amino acid abbreviations follow.

Table of amino acid abbreviations

Amino Acid

3-Letter

1-Letter

Alanine

Ala

A

Arginine

Arg

R

Asparagine

Asn

N

Aspartic acid

Asp

D

Cysteine

Cys

C

Glutamic acid

Glu

E

Glutamine

Gln

Q

Glycine

Gly

G

Histidine

His

H

Isoleucine

Ile

I

Leucine

Leu

L

Lysine

Lys

K

Methionine

Met

M

Phenylalanine

Phe

F

Proline

Pro

P

Serine

Ser

S

Threonine

Thr

T

Tryptophan

Trp

W

Tyrosine

Tyr

Y

Valine

Val

V

Aspartic acid or Asparagine

Asx

B

Any amino acid

Xaa

X

Termination codon

TERM

For more information on amino acid abbreviations or more detailed information on amino acids in general, please see other articles at the Amino Acid Information Center. There are also many excellent resources on the Internet or in encyclopedias.

Reference:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/Class/MLACourse/Modules/MolBioReview/iupac_aa_abbreviations.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amino_acid#In_human_nutrition

http://www.newbornscreening.info/Parents/aminoaciddisorders/MSUD.html