Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Wisdom Wednesday: Inflammation – Part 3

Protein is the most complex fuel used by the body. It is much more difficult to break down than fat or carbohydrate. Initial protein requirements for the body each day are used for growth and repair of tissue. However, additional protein can not be stored like fat or carbohydrate.

Once growth and repair requirements are met, all additional protein is converted to fat for storage or to carbohydrate to be burned as fuel. In either case, the nitrogen is removed and circulates in the blood as “blood urea nitrogen” or “BUN”.

BUN is a waste product and must be removed from the body. The chemical pathway eventually produces nitric oxide (NO) and is ably titled the Nitric Oxide Pathway. NO is pro-inflammatory to the digestive tract, kidneys and lungs. This is a common problem in young men taking large amounts of protein for body building. The excess protein increases BUN and NO levels in the blood stream creating inflammation.

In the office, we use vegetable protein as an oral challenge to evaluate the digestive tract, urinary tract, and lungs. The most common problem is insufficient HCl (hydrochloric acid) in the stomach to combine with pepsinogen and break down the protein to amino acids.

Poor conversion of ammonia to urea in the kidneys is also quite common. People with recurrent UTIs (urinary tract infections), chronic cystitis, or even kidney stones will have impairment in this pathway. Often the simple addition of arginase, an enzyme needed for the conversion of ammonia to urea will solve the problem.

Biotin, the supplement women often take to make their nails stronger is also involved in the NO pathway. All the biotin you will ever need should be produced by the healthy bacteria in your digestive tract. Impairment of the NO pathway can result from an imbalance in the gut flora, especially if there is a history of antibiotic use.

General gut inflammation can also be assessed using the NO pathway. Patients suffering from IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s Disease, and other bowel inflammatory conditions can dramatically reduce that inflammation using L-glutamine, another chemical in the NO pathway.

If you suffer from digestive problems, chronic urinary tract issues, or even lung problems the answer may be related to NO inflammation. If your hair and nails are not healthy or you need to take biotin to keep them strong, your gut flora is disturbed and needs some support. If you are yet unwilling to seek the help of a qualified nutritionist, just try adding 1000mg of L-glutamine as a supplement, twice per day, on an empty stomach. If that helps reduce your inflammation, your digestive tract needs to be supported.