Category Archives: Theanine

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

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

How Many Amino Acids are there – 20, 22, or 200?

For a while it was thought that there were only 20 amino acids, and many websites still reflect this today, but in fact, a couple of more rare aminos were discovered making a total of 22 amino acids. But how many amino acids are there really? 

The real question is how many amino acids exist beyond the 22 we know of SO FAR, and what about other types of amino acids? The reality is that amino acids, which are the basic building blocks of the body, are in abundance within the body. They are sources of energy such as carbohydrates and fats, except that amino acids contain nitrogen (N); because of this they play a role in forming muscles, tissues, organs, skin, and even hair.

Amino acids act as the precursors to neurotransmitters in the brain and enzymes that help with things like digestion. Amino acids are essential for health, and basically regulate the body’s metabolic processes. There are hormones that are made up of amino acids, antibodies too, so they affect the immune system. Plus they transport oxygen and nutrients in the body.

How Many Kinds of Amino Acids are there?

Different amino acids have different functions. How many amino acids, types, or kinds that exist depend on whether they are:

Essential
Non-essential
Semi-essential

How Many Essential Amino Acids Are There?

How many amino acids are “essential” (meaning you must get them from food)? They are listed as: arginine, histidine, leucine, isoleucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, valine.

How Many Amino Acids are Non-Essential

How many amino acids are “non-essential” (meaning your body makes them)? These are listed as: alanine, asparagine, aspartate, cysteine, glutamate, glutamine, glycine, proline, serine, tyrosine.

However, how many amino acids from one of the above groups are actually conditional or “semi-essential” amino acids? These are: arginine, cysteine, glycine, glutamine, proline, serine, tyrosine.

There are 22 Amino Acids

These above are the 20 more well-known amino acids; however, just how many amino acids exist actually are counted as being over 200 in numbers, but the 22 proteinogenic amino acids are the ones that are commonly known.

These more commonly known aminos can be found in food (all meat such as beef, pork, chicken, seafood, and even eggs are excellent sources of all 22 amino acids). They can also be bought as amino acid supplements individually or as a complex of many in balanced forms for their health benefits.

How many amino acids have you had in your diet today?

Reference:

http://aminoacidstudies.org/#sthash.51ThyP74.dpuf

http://www.nutriology.com/aaessnoness.html

19 Natural Remedies for Anxiety – Including L-Theanine

The following article first appeared at Health.com and was written by Robert Barnett.  We have included the section here that discusses the amino acid L-Theanine, but please read the whole story to discover the other 18 natural remedies for anxiety.

You’re anxious, worried, freaked. You’re upset about (pick one): money, health, work, family, love. Your heart is beating fast, your breathing is shallow and rapid, your mind is imagining doom, and you wish you could just relax…now! Whether you have a full-blown anxiety disorder or are just freaking out, you may not want to try medication—at least not yet.

There are many safe nondrug remedies for anxiety, from mind-body techniques to supplements to calming teas. Some start working right away, while others may help lessen anxiety over time.

L-theanine (or green tea)

They say Japanese Buddhist monks could meditate for hours, both alert and relaxed. One reason may have been an amino acid in their green tea called L-theanine, says Mark Blumenthal, of the American Botanical Council.

Research shows that L-theanine helps curb a rising heart rate and blood pressure, and a few small human studies have found that it reduces anxiety. In one study, anxiety-prone subjects were calmer and more focused during a test if they took 200 milligrams of L-theanine beforehand.

You can get that much L-theanine from green tea, but you’ll have to drink many cups—as few as five, as many as 20.

Health Benefits – Amino Acids

Amino acids provide certain health benefits to the human body. They are the building blocks of proteins and help the body’s metabolic functions. Of the 22 amino acids known to science, only 9 are considered to be essential to the human body, with some sources claiming the number is 10.

List of amino acids include Essential, Non-essential, and Conditionally Essential

To avoid amino acid deficiencies and to experience optimum health you must consume the essential amino acids since they cannot be produced by the body. Some medical professionals, like Naturopath Dr. Eliezer Ben-Joseph, who advises his patients and the public on alternative health matters through his Natural Solutions Radio show, suggest a list of 10 amino acids to include in your diet, which include: Arginine, Histidine, Methionine, Threonine, Valine, Isoleucine, Lysine, Phenylalanine, Tryptophan, and Leucine.

10 of the remaining 22 non-essential amino acids, which your body can manufacture on its own include Alanine, Asparagine, Aspartic Acid, Cysteine, Glutamine, Glutamic Acid, Glycine, Proline, Serine, and Tyrosine. Dr. Ben-Joseph suggests that if you are stressed or have a disease then these amino acids are “conditionally essential”: Arginine, Glycine, Cystine, Tyrosine, Proline, Glutamine, and Taurine.

Amino acids help build cells and repair tissues as well as create antibodies to ward off viruses and bacteria. Additionally, they help with enzymes and they body’s hormonal system. Dr. Ben-Joseph suggests these 8 amino acids provide these health benefits:

Tryptophan: is a natural relaxant, alleviates insomnia, and reduces anxiety/depression

Lysene: helps the body absorb calcium

Methionine: supplies sulfur to help hair, nails, and skin

Histidine: repairs tissue, good for digestion/ulcers, blood pressure, nerves, sexual function

Phenylalanine: aids the brain to produce Norepinephrine, which helps the brain and nerve cells

Valine: calms emotions, helps with mental vigor and coordination of the muscles

Leucine & Isoleucine: helps the body manufacture other necessary biochemical components

You can never be certain that you are getting enough of the aminoc acids that your body needs.  It may be a good idea to incorporate amino acid dietary supplements in your health regimen.  Each one serves a different function so it is important to ensure your body obtains the necessary nutrients.  As with anything else, be sure to check with your doctor before taking amino acid supplements or any dietary supplements.

References:

http://naturalsolutionsradio.com/blog/natural-solutions-radio/amino-acids

http://naturalsolutionsradio.com/blog/articles/references/minerals-amino-acids-chart

Amino Acids – Natural Cure For Alcoholism?

Could amino acids become a natural cure for alcoholism?  Based on the information in two great books by Julia Ross – “The Diet Cure” and “The Mood Cure”, this could certainly be the case.

According to Ross, overeating or drinking alcohol is actually a form of using food or alcohol as self-medication.  It is not about having poor willpower… it is because you are low on certain brain chemicals that make you emotionally strong.

Ross claims that if you are using alcohol to feel good – and the same applies to sugar and carbohydrate addictions – it is because something is interfering with your body’s ability to produce its own natural brain drugs.  What does this mean?  For example, a continuous stress lowers your natural sedative, stimulant and pain reliever reserves.  When you run out of them, your body wants to feel good and basically tells you to eat foods or drink alcohol – do anything that would fix the problem and make you feel good again.

Regular use of sugars, alcohol or drugs (even pharmaceutical drugs) can teach your brain not to produce those brain chemicals.  “Hey, why should I produce these neurotransmitters, when you are feeding me alcohol, doing the job for me,” your brain asks.  The more you condition your body with alcohol, the fewer neurotransmitters it produces.

What does this have to do with amino acids?  Everything!  Your brain relies on proteins, which are the only source for amino acids, and amino acids are what your body uses to make all of its mood-enhancing chemicals.  If you aren’t getting enough protein, or if you have conditioned your brain to interfere with the ‘conversion’ process, you start getting cravings.  This leads to an interesting conclusion: consuming amino acid supplements could become a natural cure for alcoholism and other sugar cravings.

Natural cure for alcoholism – false hope or a viable option?

In order to understand how you could use amino acid supplements to eliminate or reduce alcohol cravings and therefore gradually cure your alcoholism, it’s important to understand the role of various brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) that impact our mood.  They are a) dopamine/norepinephrine (improves mental focus and energizes you naturally), b) GABA (a Valium/Diazepam like natural sedative and relaxant), c) endorphin (a natural painkiller) and serotonin (helps you sleep and keeps you ‘happy’).

If you have plenty of all four, you are living a balanced life.  But when your reserves get depleted, you may resort to overeating and alcohol consumption.

If you want to learn the intricacies of exactly how amino acids work, we highly suggest that you read Julia Ross’s two great books.  However, if you have mood related issues, here is a list of amino acids that convert into proper brain chemicals, balancing your mood and potentially eliminating the need to use other substances, such as alcohol, carbohydrates or sugar.

The first brain chemical on our list, dopamine/norepinephrine increases your energy level.  The corresponding amino acid that produces the same effect is L-Tyrosine.  L-Tyrosine typically works fast and provides you with additional energy.

Some people eat chocolate or drink alcohol because they are tired and want that initial energy boost that comes from consuming those products.  If low energy level is your one of your problem areas, try L-Tyrosine and see if it could become part of your natural cure for alcoholism.

Then again, some people drink to relax.  GABA is often called natural valium (valium is also known as diazepam), which is used to relieve anxiety and other side effects associated with alcohol withdrawal, and L-Taurine can relieve tension as well.  L-theanine helps you reduce stress and relax as well. In other words, add these three amino acids for your natural cure for alcoholism toolkit!

Then there are those people who drink to get rid of emotional pain, the source of which they may not even remember anymore. There are two powerful amino acids that are used to alleviate emotional pain: L-glutamine and DLPA or DL-Phenylalanine. L-Glutamine is the second best choice for your body to fuel your brain.  Sugar – or glucose – is the primary option.  This makes it easy to understand why sugary products, carbohydrates or alcohol, which convert to glucose, are an easy way to stop a craving.  However, L-Glutamine amino acid reaches the brain within minutes.

The last amino acid, L-Tryptophan, is sometimes called “a natural Prozac”.  When a series of contaminated batches of L-Tryptophan came from Japan to the U.S. in the late 1980’s, the Food and Drug Administration banned it.  It is again available and is a very powerful product.  It plays an important role for the synthesis of melatonin and serotonin – hormones that regulate mood and stress response. L-Tryptophan helps support relaxation, sleep, positive mood and immune function. L-Tryptophan is the precursor to Serotonin, a neurotransmitter in the brain, which is deficient in people who have depression.

A ‘watered-down’ version, 5-HTP, is widely available in most health food stores.

I want a natural cure for alcoholism but I have no idea what to do next?

How much of each one of these amino acids should you take to address your emotional issues, cravings or even create a natural cure for alcoholism?  This is a difficult question to answer. Julia Ross provides detailed instructions in her books, including the dosage, what time of the day you should take each supplement and which one of these supplements should never be taken together – after all, why take energizing and relaxing supplements at the same time?

If you do not decide to read the works of Julia Ross or Dr. Joan Mathews Larson, who is often considered to be the inventor of this amino acid therapy to cure alcoholism naturally, then you will need to make your own educated decision on which supplements to use and determine the proper dosage.

While supplement bottles typically post a recommended dosage, please remember that certain inactive ingredients in supplements (used as lubricants in the manufacturing process) reduce the absorption of the product’s active ingredients.  If you follow dosage recommendations, and do not get the results you are after, get a copy of The Diet Cure and see the dose ranges that Dr. Ross presents.

Are amino acid therapies a natural cure for alcoholism? According to Dr. Larson, her detox center’s long-term success rates quadrupled from 20% to 80%, utilizing the strategies explained in this article.  If you are suffering from any addictions, including alcoholism, amino acids might be a long-sought after solution for you!