“But, protein?! I get enough of that! Yeah… my nutritionist, and my doctor, says that I get too much!” is the kind of answer that you get when you tell people that they need an extra protein supplement. And their reaction is understandable. Many people become confused and don’t know what to think. Therefore information on this subject is important, actually vital.
It is true that too many people get too much dietary protein, especially from meat. It is also true that most people need extra protein supplementation in the form of free amino acids and preferably from meat. Unfortunately both of these things are often true in the same person!
This requires quit a bit of explanation. But this explanation can be the key to a much better understanding of your own bodily functions, can open the door to better health, and can solve a long list of disease related problems.
Firstly, what is protein? The word comes form the Greek protos, which means first. This is because proteins are essential for life.
Proteins are built up from amino acids, often in very ingenious configurations and of a large number of molecules. Each individual amino acid is an essential nutrient which is crucial to the growth, regeneration, wound healing, metabolism, immune defence, and production of enzymes and hormones in an organism.
Each amino acid molecule is built up from carbon (C), oxygen (O), hydrogen (H), and nitrogen (N) as well as different combinations of sulphur (S), phosphorus (P) or other elements. They have highly differentiated seizes and structures, but are in principle first and foremost composed of a central short or long chain of carbon atoms. The amino group (NH2), which is amino acids’ characteristic part, attaches itself to the carbon “backbone.” Carboxyl groups (COOH) and other groups such as methyl (H2OH), hydroxyl (OH), and more, at times as well as large five or six sided ring structures, compose the rest of the amino acid.
Amino acids are made by plants and lower organisms. People and animals cannot produce necessary amino acids and must acquire them though diet. This is done though the intake and breakdown of protein from food. Each protein is built up of a complex network of hundreds of amino acids which are connected in basic units called peptides. Two amino acids bind to form a dipeptide, three make a tripeptide, and many amino acids bound together is called a polypeptide. Numerous polypeptides bind together to create a protein. The proteins which we get through our food are made up of tight and complicated structures made up of very large numbers of amino acids.
In order for an organism to use the amino acids which are bound to a protein it is crucial that they are completely released from each other. A prerequisite for being able to do this is that we are able to completely digest the protein that we eat, so that it is completely broken down to its molecular building blocks, which is to say its amino acids. With few exceptions, only free amino acids can be absorbed and utilized by the body.
Our digestion is responsible for this task, and it does this, or should do this, in the following way: If, for example, we consider a good steak, it should of course fist marinade or cook so that the meat’s own enzymes have partially broken down so that it is tender. Then the body goes to work, first by chewing. Here the meat is ground up so that its protein can easier be processed by digestive secretions. It ends up in the stomach where gastric acid further loosens the meat fibres from each other and where the enzyme pepsin directly separates the polypeptides.
During its further journey thought the intestines the food mass is processed by many enzymes which are produced by the pancreas and by the intestinal membrane. These enzymes are trypsin, kymotrypsin, peptidase, carboxypeptidase, and nuclease. They process the polypeptides to simple peptides after which to the basal molecular building blocks, the amino acids. These amino acids can be absorbed thought the intestines and be used by the organism, either directly for the build up of tissue or for uncountable organic functions including the formation of enzymes. If there is a surplus, the amino acids are metabolised for energy or, to some extent, deposited in the body’s reservoirs.
Despite many testimonies to the contrary, the general school-medicine understanding, furthered by the beliefs of orthodox nutritionists and the directives of the authorities, is that these functions normally occur unhindered and satisfactorily and that they do not require outside assistance, especially form alternative practitioners with strange ideas.
The viewpoint is maintained that if a patient intakes what is called a normal, healthy diet, it will on average contain more than enough protein to provide the organism with enough amino acids. Therefore there is not need for special amino acid supplements, which should be considered to be “fraudulent” and pure wastes of money.
When believers of conventional medicine refer to a “normal, healthy diet,” it is extremely awkward that they have never been able to give this a precise definition. Even more important is that the public is also unaware of its meaning, and therefore cannot make the right dietary choices. The reality is that the public eats neither normally nor healthily. It would be commendable if traditional medicine could bring itself to base its views on this type of basic fact.
But let us nonetheless analyse this authoritarian understanding, if nothing else to analyse its consequences.
The first condition is that the complicated digestion process described above occurs unhindered is that the patient intakes a normal, healthy diet. Here it is logically necessary to point out that under existing circumstances this is contradictory.
If we consider the American or Northern European diet, the normal diet is guaranteed not to be healthy and that which is healthy is definitely not normal. Junk food for breakfast is a part of the normal diet for a large part of the population, especially for children and the elderly. This kind of food is guaranteed not to have any protein content.
School age children and young adults who have been interviewed have divulged that for many of them lunch is a cola and a bag of chips and dinner is often more of the same or skipped altogether. This does not give much protein. Thus we already we have representatives for a meaningful population group which diverges from the attractive theoretical model. On the other hand there is a large population group among fast food enthusiasts who easily come up to a protein intake which is 3 to 4 times greater than necessary and far more than what is optimal. This causes other problems which will be discussed later.
The second condition for proper digestion is the presence of digestive enzymes. In textbooks it is taken for granted that these enzymes are present in everyone, including in those who are weak, chronically ill, elderly, or temporally stressed, and that these enzymes are present in amounts great enough to ensure that proteins are not just partially broken down, but completely broken down into their building blocks, the important amino acids.
Not only is there no guarantee that this is the case, but there is also concrete testimony that this is often not the case. The reasons that proteins are not automatically broken down to free amino acids are obvious.
One of the first requirements for this process to occur problem free is the presence of sufficient gastric juice.
Sick, aged, malnourished, weak, or just stressed people often produce too little gastric juice. The production of gastric juice is one of the organisms most energy demanding processes. Therefore, in cases of energy depletion such as in chronic disease or temporary stress, production is reduced. Gastric juice’s job is first and foremost is to introduce acid to the food and thereby dissolve it into its protein parts so that it is easier to further digest by specific proteolytic, which is to say protein dissolving, enzymes further in the digestive system.
If the gastric juice does not do its job sufficiently, the proteolytic enzymes become overworked.
Energy depletion can also affect the production of the proteolytic enzymes. The formation of these enzymes is actually dependant on the amino acids which are split out of the polypeptides. In other words, if the enzymes are not able to do their job well enough, there is less enzyme production in the future. A vicious circle is thereby formed!
If this occurs even for a short period, it can lead to chronic problems because the free amino acids themselves play a part in the production of the proteolytic digestive enzymes; which are responsible for the breakdown of protein and thereby also responsible for the entire future release of amino acids.
This marks the creation of a biochemical barrier: Lack of free amino acids inhibits the creation of free amino acids!
If we disregard simple functional peptides such as glutathione or GTF chromium, under normal circumstances only amino acids can and should pass through the intestinal wall. And only amino acids can be used by the organism for the creation of all of the protein structures that the body needs; from muscle fibres to enzymes, from cartilage to hormones, from organ tissue to blood cells to chromosomes.
Each amino acid interplays with vitamins, minerals and sugar molecules to form substrates, transport complexes, and regulators of digestive processes. Not only can the body use proteins only after they have been reduced to amino acids, but if they are not reduced they can become a disease causing burden.
Incompletely digested protein, polypeptides, does not normally penetrate the intestinal wall but stays out in the digestive tract. But poor protein digestion caused by poor production of digestive secretions, too high intake of massive protein, or more often both of these factors leads to, with other digestive problems, a build up of undigested protein in the intestines. Here the polypeptides become part of a mini ecosystem with bacteria, vira, fungus, and other factors which change their structure and create large amounts of different substances with are, in the long run, damaging to the organism. This is especially true when the intestinal wall is simultaneously worn down and weakened; letting these foreign substances pass into the organism. Poisons from the environment, medicine, and pleasurable poisons such as alcohol and coffee worsen the situation considerably.
Hereby poisoning occurs which affects the immune system and can cause so called autoimmune diseases which can manifest as arthritis and rheumatism, allergies, psoriasis, acne, fungal infection, and many others, including “mental” reactions such as irrational irritability and depression. Bowel toxaemia is the name for this condition, which can be considered as “blood poisoning of the digestive tract.” But this simplification does not encompass the entire complex picture which bowel toxaemia entails. A widened understanding of the condition can be achieved through the question, “digestion or destruction?”
This is often the picture which an alternative practitioner is met by when visited by a chronic patient. And all alternative practitioners agree on the way to proceed: gradual cleansing of the body, first and foremost of the digestive tract, blood vessels, and liver, with the help of dietary regulation, nutrient supplementation, plant enzymes, and other plant preparations. Cleansing and rebuilding are the two primary phases of alternative therapy.
Vitamin and mineral supplementation not only contribute to rebuilding, but also to cleansing, because they activate the liver, the body’s waste treatment plant, which rinses poisons and promotes enzyme production. They also promote intestinal motility and thereby the removal of waste, protect the intestinal wall against the seepage of poisons from the intestinal canal, aid in the secretion of heavy metals, and metabolise the carbohydrates found in acidic deposits in the tissues.
All alternative practitioners know how much some patients benefit by drastically reducing their protein intake. Concurrently they also know how much certain others benefit from receiving protein supplements. This is not just the old story that too much or too little of something ruins everything. The central problem is found in the following digestive mechanism: too much polypeptide and undigested protein but too little amino acid. Many patients who are “protein poisoned” also suffer from amino acid deficiency. The decisive problem is digestive insufficiency!
The solution to most of the problems which we have examined in this summary is, in principle, simple. One cannot trust a persons own ability to digest protein totally and instead give amino acids in free form. In other words, a whole protein supplement should be fully processed so that it holds nothing but free amino acids.
Free amino acids are produced from whole protein by treatment with pharmacologically standardised proteolytic enzymes. Though chromatographic and spectrographic analysis it is ensured that the final product is completely transformed into completely biologically available free amino acids. These amino acids take a shortcut through the digestive system. They are directly available to the cells, to the organism’s rebuilding, and to inner organic sanitization.
In school much effort was put into teaching us to distinguish between the essential or necessary amino acids and those which are non-essential. W learned that the eight essential must be added to the organism via food. We were under the impression that we didn’t need to worry about the other amino acids, the non essential, because the body, if necessary, could make them by altering the essential amino acids.
One can wonder how much of certain essential amino acids, for example tryptophan which is necessary for mental balance, remain if this alteration takes the upper hand.
We know that tryptophan in the organism is transformed into vitamin B3 (niacin) when there is the need and the possibly for this to occur. This process requires the presence of vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) and a number of other nutrients. Because the organism often, especially under periods of stress, lack sufficient B3, there is a risk that the body’s tryptophan reservoirs are drained by this need so that there is insufficient tryptophan to process serotonin, a neurotransmitter with crucial importance to mental function. When the diet is also tryptophan poor, which is the case in certain kinds of veganism, mental problems such as anorexia, can arise.
The transformation of one amino acid to another is also at all times dependant on many cooperative factors and is therefore more or less effective. In sick, elderly, and malnourished individuals the effectiveness of these processes is naturally drastically reduced.
So here we meet the school-theoretic model once again without any guarantee that the familiar biochemical process slavishly follows this model. Just as with protein digestion, there are some problems.
Vegans and vegetarians risk lysine and threonine deficiencies. It is clear that when the supply of these essential amino acids is limited by the diet, deficiencies in the non-essential amino acids, which the lacking essential amino acids are expected to supply, occur. But this is not necessarily the only reason that these non-essential amino acids can be lacking.
Even when the supply of amino acids is sufficient, meaning that the transformation to non-essential amino acids should be unhindered, problems arise. The situation is such that no biochemical process can occur without all of the necessary factors being present, meaning that, as with many other situations, the transformation of essential amino acids to non-essential amino acids cannot occur without the presence of necessary vitamins and minerals, especially magnesium, manganese, zinc, copper, and vitamin B6, as well as vitamin C and folic acid.
In practice practitioners see cases of so catastrophic deficiencies of non-essential amino acids such as glutamine, cystein, tyrosine, and aspargine that it becomes absolutely “essential” both to be concerned and do something to rectify the situation.
In summary: The question of whether an amino acid is essential or non-essential does not have much importance in daily amino acid therapy. Here the practical rule is that the organism should receive a supply of all amino acids, both the essential and the non-essential.
If just one amino acid is lacking or deficient, it will lead to negative consequences for the effectiveness of all of the others and for the functionality of the proteins which they compose.
Convalescence, age, stress, poor absorption, malnutrition, and wound healing after accidents or surgery, are all situations where the usefulness of dietary supplement is especially apparent. Many chronic diseases, for example diabetes, can also be helped. A supplement of easily absorbable amino acids should be a part of the treatment programmes for depression, anorexia, bulimia, alcoholism, and drug addiction.
In any kind of sport where the body is stretched to its limit, for example body building, amino acids are welcome resources to increasing training effects and staying at the top. An amino acid complex is a good support for low protein diets. Amino acid complexes have also given good results with low blood pressure, abnormal felling of cold, hair loss, nail problems, and anaemia.
Many emaciated cancer patients with eating problems have regained their appetite and condition with the aid of amino acid complexes. These amino acid complexes also have an extremely large significance in all illnesses where the immune system is weakened. The same is true with low and high blood pressure, hypoglycaemia, and diabetes.
An exposition of the method of operation and the health promoting effects of the naturally occurring amino acids in fully processes liver preparations gives a strong impression of the multifaceted support that all life functions receive with this form of dietary supplement and therapy.
Amino acids can be used in two ways: As a broad spectrum blend of all natural amino acids or as one or few isolated amino acids given for a narrow specific therapeutic effect. In the latter case mega-doses are often used.
Contrary to many other places in the world, for example the United States, some EU countries do not allow the sale or purchase of mega-doses of pure amino acids for specific therapeutic purposes. Such doses sometimes can be imported to the country in question (such as import from other EU countries where such supplements can be sold). Some examples of such therapeutic doses are given in the following text.
When considering a person’s biochemical requirements, 22 amino acids are traditionally deemed important, but when we talk about amino acid therapy other variants are looked at. More advanced orthomolecular clinics and laboratories in the United States screen their patients for about 30 amino acids. Most of these are used in therapy.
Vegetarians are a risk group for amino acid deficiency because it is hard for them to put together a vegetarian diet with the necessary amino acid balance. Milk products are of great help, but not for vegans, who are completely reliant beans, lentils, and the like for their protein intake. It is important to be aware that no single plant has an amino acid balance which satisfies the needs of people.
It is said that soy beans are an exception to this rule, but this claim has not merit. It is therefore necessary to combine many different plant protein sources in each meal, for example rice, lentils and beans, in order to have a proper amino acid balance. This practice is en force in traditional vegetarian societies, for example among high-caste Hindus.
Therapeutic use of isolated amino acids
Amino acids are found in L and D forms. These categories refer to their molecular structure; L stands for laevo, meaning left, and D stands for dexter, meaning right. Their structure determines how they polarize light. All natural amino acids in people are L-amino acids. L-amino acids are the organic, the orthomolecular, and the body compatible amino acids. In a few cases D-forms are used, or more often D,L-forms (also called racemic) for example d,l- phenylalanine,.
In order for isolated amino acids to have therapeutic effects, they should be taken in large doses. Contrary to nutrients such as vitamins and minerals, where dosages are mostly given as mg and micrograms, amino acids are dosed by the gram. The daily intake is normally divided into two doses, one in the morning, one in the evening. (Some exceptions exist, for example phenylalanine and d,l- phenylalanine).
The intake of amino acids should be separated as much as possible from meals to prevent competition from protein in food. For the same reason, amino acids should be taken with water or juice, not milk or other protein containing liquids.
Monoaminooxidase inhibiting drugs (MAO inhibitors) are a group of synthetic antidepressants. They have many side effects, including liver damage and allergy and they drain the organism of many important nutrients. Tyrosine, phenylalanine, d,l- phenylalanine, and tryptophane should be given to the patients who take one or another form of MAO inhibitor, for example Marplan, Cinemet, or Eldepryl.
Organic and orthomolecular treatment
Orthomolecular is a new word and a hard word to remember, but it will soon prove to be worthwhile and practical to remember. The orthomolecular is that which is composed of or uses the right molecules. Orthos in Greek means the right or the correct. We also find the word in orthodoxy (the right learning), orthography (the right writing), and orthopaedic (the right training and treatment).
The word orthomolecular was introduced into modern science by the brilliant biochemist and double Nobel Laureate Linus Pauling. Through the use of the right molecules in the right amounts it is possible to achieve the optimal inner ecology in the cells environment. This optimal ecology allows the organism to have optimal self healing abilities, compensate for deficiencies, and overcome illnesses. The right molecules are those which the body already knows and uses meaning that they are body compatible. These orthomolecular substances are primarily nutrients, including minerals, vitamins, amino acids, essential polyunsaturated fatty acids, enzymes, and other substances which the human race has learned to absorb and use throughout the last many thousand years,
Orthomolecular treatment is also healing by promoting the natural ecology. It stands in contrast to our modern medical treatments, which are primarily xenomolecular, meaning based on foreign molecules. They use synthetic chemicals foreign to the body, which do not work together with the inner ecology, but contrarily poison it in the same way that pesticides and industrial pollution poison both the inner and outer environment. Orthomolecular patient treatment has achieved great advances in many areas, earliest and most convincingly in the field of psychiatry. Orthomolecular psychiatry is nonetheless still relatively unknown. But amino acid therapy is of course orthomolecular therapy at its best.