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This List Of Amino Acids and Their Functions is the third in a series of 4 reviews on the health and wellness benefits of all-natural, certified organic, GMO-free, nutrient-dense foods, which are rich in omega 3s, contain all the critical antioxidants, all the amino acids, particularly the essential amino acids, and the full range of vitamins, minerals, and trace elements.
For a full explanation on foods which contain all of the critical antioxidants read this review “Foods High With Antioxidants“. For information on which foods are rich in omega 3s, read the first review, “Omega 3 Foods List“.
In order to reap all the amino acids benefits, the human body requires 20 types of amino acids to adequately produce healthy protein, per the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Protein is one of the 4 major food groups, and is essential to your overall health and well being. Amino acids are categorized as either essential or non-essential. For years it was believed that non-essential amino acids are those that your body can naturally synthesize, requiring only sufficient amounts of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen, to do so.
However, recent research like this NIH study, has shown that even though the human body can synthesize non-essential amino acids, a proper nutrient-rich diet is still important for animals and humans to achieve their full genetic potential for growth, development, reproduction, lactation, and resistance to metabolic and infectious diseases.
Here is an example of a non-essential amino acid, arginine, the human body can’t meet demands when fighting certain diseases like cancer and has to be supplemented through diet, per an NIH review. There are 9 essential amino acids which are acquired through the right kinds of healthy foods, as the body either cannot produce them or produces them at insufficient levels.
A vast amount of research, like a 2009 study published in the Integrative Medicine For Children, confirmed the indispensable health properties of amino acids. These acids are actually involved in many critical body processes from building muscle to synthesizing important neurotransmitters like GABA, serotonin, and dopamine. Likewise, much research has been conducted explaining the dangers of low amino acid levels, effecting many crucial body functions. In terms of treatment, amino acids have demonstrated that ability to improve a variety of health conditions. Here are just some of the ways proteins produced by amino acids, specifically the 9 essential amino acids, help you:
Muscle Health and Growth
Considering that amino acids are foundational components of protein, this benefit comes as no real surprise. In addition to promoting muscle growth, amino acids suppress mechanisms that cause muscle tissue deterioration, according to an NIH study.
One notable amino acid, glycine, has even been shown to help maintain muscle mass in the later stages of life, like this NIH study which confirmed that essential amino acid have also been found to be effective in preserving lean body mass in elderly people and athletes.
Another 10-day NIH study in 22 older adults on bed rest showed that those who received 15 grams of mixed essential amino acids maintained muscle protein synthesis, while the process decreased by 30% in the placebo group. When satisfactory levels of amino acids penetrate the muscles, overall endurance, strength, and other performance capabilities often improve. This is the primary reason why athletes and particularly bodybuilders, understand the importance of eating foods rich in protein, and amino acids.
In a study in 16 resistance-trained athletes, branched-chain amino acid supplements improved performance and muscle recovery and decreased muscle soreness, compared to a placebo, found an NIH study. A recent NIH review of eight studies found that supplementing with branched-chain amino acids was superior to rest in promoting muscle recovery and reducing soreness after exhaustive exercise. A quick side note on amino acids and bone health. The amino acids arginine, glycine, and alanine, plays an important role in bone formation and keeping your bones strong, and may reduce your risk of osteoporosis, per another NIH review.
Effective Weight Loss
Some human and animal studies have demonstrated that branched-chain essential amino acids may be effective in stimulating fat loss. For example, again reviewed by the NIH, an eight-week study in 36 strength-trained men found that supplementing with 14 grams of branched-chain amino acids per day significantly decreased body fat percentage, compared to whey protein or a sports drink.
A study in rats, according to the NIH, showed that a diet composed of 4% supplemental leucine reduced body weight and fat. Supplementing with certain essential amino acids may help improve mood, boost exercise performance, prevent muscle loss and promote weight loss.
Reduces Stress and Anxiety
Essential amino acids reduces stress in humans. The amino acid glutamine is considered one of the most important amino acids.
Experiments have demonstrated drastic reductions of glutamine levels during periods of acute physical and/or mental anxieties of tension, strain and stress effecting cognitive and behavioral changes. Physiologically, ingestion of glutamine stabilizes cells of the immune and gastrointestinal systems. This effect strengthens the body’s defense mechanisms, helping to prevent and counteract various symptoms of adrenal fatigue.
Other benefits are improved executive functions, enhanced mood states, and decreased stress levels. Stress typically cause hormone inbalances, leading to improper functioning of the area of your human body, controlled by the hormone inbalance.
When your body is exposed to a stressor, it causes adrenal fatigue which leads to cortisol dysregulation, which further exaggerates detrimental effects of blood sugar imbalance. Blood sugar imbalance leads to massive fluctuations in insulin and cortisol, and cortisol will typically release and it’s level increases for a short period. Cortisol alters immune system responses and suppresses the digestive system, the reproductive system and growth processes.
This complex natural alarm system also communicates with the brain regions that control mood, motivation and fear, and it’s the hormone responsible for breaking things down. When in this state, the body rapidly degrades stored amino acids in the body, resulting in a potential deficiency much quicker, particularly when your diet is low in amino acid-rich foods. After the stress has subsided, a healthy person would have a decrease in cortisol and there would be no more spiking, then your body would adapt and grow stronger during this rest period by repairing the damage that occurred.
However, unhealthy behaviors and habits can promote chronic stress and the damaging effects of cortisol and make the condition prolonged and worse. For example, poor sleep quality in shift workers is connected to high cortisol levels and stress, according to an NIH study. Or another example, stressful thought, like experienced by 128 women with breast cancer, can compound existing stress making it even more severe by releasing more cortisol, according to research by the NIH. While this may sound oversimplified, but very obvious, it turns out that deficient amino acid levels may also exacerbate such mood swings, or bipolor disorder, and stressful episodes.
One example of this confirmed in an NIH study, found that nutrition can play a key role in the onset as well as severity and duration of depression and there are easily noticeable food patterns that precede depression which are the same as those that occur during depression. Conversely, carnitine and other amines, functioning as a rapid-acting antidepressant, may help provide some balance to a brain that is often out of sync, a common byproduct of internal and external stressors, according to a 2016 Rockefeller University study. For example, the essential amino acids inhibits erratic neurotransmitter activity in the brain, which brings feelings of sedation and well-being.
Healthy Restful Sleep
Tryptophan is needed for the production of serotonin, a chemical that acts as a neurotransmitter in your body and is an essential regulator of mood, sleep and behaviors. According to the NIH, while low serotonin levels have been linked to depressed mood and sleep disturbances, eating foods high in tryptophan can reduce symptoms of depression, boost mood and improve sleep.
A 19-day study in 60 older women found that 1 gram supplementation of tryptophan per day led to increased energy and improved happiness, compared to a placebo. In another 2015 study published in the British Journal of Medicine indicated that tryptophan-rich protein can improve mental energy and emotional processing in healthy women for better sleep. Sleeplessness can result when this breakdown mechanism adversely impacts certain cognitive functions, disrupting our internal sleep/wake cycle, or body clock.
Enhance Brain Function and Cognition
Amino acids from nutrient-dense proteins are critical to healthy brain function. In the List Of Amino Acids And Their Functions, Arginine, histidine, tyrosine, and tryptophan are some of the most critical and are synthesized by the brain to balance various neurotransmitters such as: dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine.
Maintaining healthy balances of these chemicals helps promote normalized cognitive abilities, particularly during periods of environmental and psychological distress. Interestingly, because of the “gut-brain” connection, many of these neurotransmitters are also produced by your gut cells and the trillions of microbes living there. A large proportion of serotonin is produced in the gut.
Furthermore, the trillions of microbes that live in your gut also make other chemicals that affect how your brain works. The study said therapeutic targeting of the gut microbiota may be useful in treating stress-related disorders and metabolic diseases. One more example of amino acids connection with the gut-brain axis has to do with inflammation.
If your immune system is switched on for too long from illness or stress, it can lead to inflammation, which is associated with a number of brain disorders like depression and Alzheimer’s disease.
Improved Blood Circulation
The lack of the proper essential amino acids, can cause circulation problems and can lead to many health issues, particularly organs that contain lots of tiny blood vessels, such as the brain. Distal structures of the body such as the hands and feet will also be negatively impacted by poor circulation. Proper blood circulation is essential for cardiovascular health. Finally, sex organs will typically be impacted too.
The amino acids arginine and citrulline boost circulation by supporting the production of nitric oxide according to a Mayo Clinic study. Arginine is found in nuts, fish, red meat, soy, whole grains, beans and dairy foods. Nitric oxide is responsible for dilating blood vessels regulating vascular tone and allowing a greater amount of blood to flow through according to the NIH. This effect also helps to lower blood pressure and keep it under control.
The lining of the gut is one layer of thin cells. This lining is very delicate but also very good at performing its function of regulating the absorption of nutrients from food. The spaces between these cells are tightly regulated
to only allow certain things to pass through while keeping foreign objects out. When you eat the proper lean organic, non-GMO, healthy protein diet high in essential amino acids, reduce the use of cloranated water, processed foods, high-fat foods, and antibiotics, you prevent the occurence of the condition known as “Leaky Gut”. This condition causes poor digestion, food allergies, autoimmunity disorders, chronic inflammation, and malnourishment, and is preventable, when you digest the foods you eat properly.
Essential amino acids also support proper stomach acid production inorder for the proper breakdown of foods for better digestion. Glutamine is an important amino acid in the digestive tract. It’s best known for helping to repair the intestinal lining and can improve the growth and survival of intestinal cells. It may also help to regulate the function of the intestinal barrier during stress, according to the NIH study.
In another small NIH study researchers found that even a low dose of oral glutamine could improve intestinal permeability after strenuous exercise. Another NIH study emphasizes the theory that glutamine is beneficial to intestinal or gut permeability and may help to prevent unwanted toxins entering the digestive system. In addition, it might even help to improve IBS (irritable bowl syndrome), as the condition is sometimes thought to occur due to compromised intestinal permeability.
Natural nutrient-dense foods high in glutamine are free-range chicken, cold-water fish, fresh cabbage, dark green leafy spinach, grass-fed finished dairy, fermented tofu, variety of fresh lentils (beans and peas), and fresh beets. Adequate stomach acid production is also critical for proper protein breakdown and amino acid absorption. Enzymes from the pancreas and stomach acid must be present for proper digestion.
Unfortunately, amino acids are also involved in enzyme synthesis because low hydrochloric stomach acid isn’t able to activate pepsin the main enzyme responsible for breaking down protein into amino acids . Eating zinc-rich foods such as oysters and crabs, pumpkin seeds, beef and pork, fortified breakfast cereals, baked beans, and cashews, and, in addition, any naturally fermented foods and ginger, restore low stomach acid.
Eliminates Toxins and Harmful Virus and Disease
To eliminate harmful toxins and diseases, our body relies on a healthy immune system and functioning liver, according to a NIH review. Amines such as arginine, ornithine, and glutamine helps to stimulate detoxification actions of the liver, eradicating toxins that threaten our overall health, according to the NIH. These amines also help to promote the expedited healing of wounds. Deficiencies in these critical amino acids can contribute to significant immune suppression. Caution should be taken when using amines in a supplement form because it can result in excessive production of liver enzymes, an inadvertency that can result in liver damage.
Slows the Aging Process
And last but definitely not least, consumption of lean healthy high proteins and regular adequate ingestion of amino acids can slow the aging process. The reasons for this are mostly cumulative in nature, and here’s why. As mentioned, amino acids play an important role in preventing or countering the effects of stress; which in turn produces a myriad of benefits like sharper cognition, healthier skin, more defined muscles, better sleep, improved mood, the removing of toxins, and better cognitive function.
Additionally, amino acids strengthen the immune and digestive systems. As a result, we’re able to ward off potentially-harmful health conditions, many of which indirectly age us, both in mind and body. One NIH study found long-term essential high amino acid foods may be a useful tool for the prevention and treatment of muscle loss, particularly if excess leucine is provided in the foods. Another NIH study found that consumption of essential amino acid after resistance exercise may provide a means to reduce impairments in skeletal muscle quality during ageing in humans.
Incredible Nature and How It’s Being Missed
Long before early humans appeared on this planet, plants, fish, animals, and other creatures existed and thrived in harmony and in a natural balance. It seems they always existed and they did. Nature had a good plan from the very beginning, and it’s still a good plan today, tens of thousands of years later.
The plants and their fruits grew naturally wild, receiving their nourishment from the earth, and were available for the roaming wild animals to eat naturally in which they received rich nourishment to grow and survive as species. By grazing and foraging, animals received nutrients and phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, omega 3s, and amino acids, from plants to live and survive in abundance. When humans made their presence known, they became ‘hunters and gatherers’, because the wild animals and plants were already there for humans to eat, transfering those same important nutrients which also enabled humans to grow and survive. Fish were plentiful in unpolluted pristine waters and there for the taking.
But, leave it to modern man to screw things up! Today, for the most part, ecosystems, which is the natural balance between nature and it’s inhabitants of plants, animals, fish and humans, has been interrupted. According to Wikipedia human civilization has caused the loss of 83% of wild animals and over 50 percent of wild plants! The majority of all plants no longer grow undisturbed and naturally as nature intended.
The majority of animals who have been domesticated no longer are able to eat natural plants because they are not allowed too, with only some exceptions by farmers who still practice open grazing or foraging for their food animals (grass-fed or free-range). Thank goodness for that! And, the majority of humans no longer eat naturally-raised animal and plant foods, because most of the Western World is not aware they are even still available or even their importance to overall health.
For the most part, modern-day plant foods are grown commercially in depleted soils with chemical ferlilizers, additives, and sprayed with chemical pesticides, destroying most of the nutrients within the food plants and polluting the planet at the same time, according to a Scientific America study. ResearchGate has a very good study on the overuse of chemical fertilizers and their harmful effects on our world environment and ecosystems. Food animals for human consumption are also raised commercially, mostly corn-fed or grain-fed, raised in small feedlot areas, or pens, and not allowed to graze and foriage naturally on their own.
These food animals are given chemical supplements, hormones, and antibiotics, destroying most of the nutrients within the animals, making the animals unhealthy with no immunity to illness and disease, and promoting unhealthy fats and antibiotic-resistant bacteria that are harmful to animals and humans alike. These negative unhealthy practices of commercial farming and it’s impact on human health, are huge and are clearly defined and confirmed in this NIH study.
Cold-water fish of virtually all species are now farmed-raised for commercial sale, destroying most of the nutrients in the process, increasing the risk of toxic residuals like PCBs or mercury in the fish even more so than in their wild-caught cousins, and adding to the pollution of our planet on an alarming scale, according to a Scientific America study. Do you see where this is going? Where does this leave humans? Very simply, humans are no longer consuming nutrient-rich plants, fish, or animals, like our ancestors did, and we are getting sicker and sicker!
Can you now see how that’s possible? But, there is light at the end of the tunnel. There are viable alternatives and you do have choices. What are those choices? Change your buying habits, so you can take advantage of nutrient-dense and high-protein foods and enjoy all the micronutrients of amino acids benefits, the antioxidants benefits, and the omega 3s benefits! You have to start eating again from ‘a stone-age menu’!
One final note on naturally-made amino acids versus man-made or synthetic amino acids. There is a lot of conflicting information on this issue, but, here is one study done By NCBI “Safety Concerns Regarding Supplemental Amino Acids. Results of A study concluded that supplementing with synthetic amino acids supplements is not a good idea, and summarized it with this statement,
There is no nutritional rationale to the use of amino acids as dietary supplements, and such a practice can be dangerous.
So, stay away from man-made amino acids supplements! Why would you want to take them in the first place, when you have literally hundreds of “Mother Nature” made healthy amino-acids-rich foods available to you?
The Absolute Best Selection Of Nutrient-Dense Foods On the Planet
Here are the best examples and sources of NATURAL nutrient-dense foods high in micronutrients of not only all of the amino acids including the 9 essential amino acids, but also all the antioxidants, healthy omega 3 fatty acids, and natural vitamins, minerals, and trace elements, found in specific foods and available for purchase.
These incredible foods consist of natural, organic, non-genetically-modified, grass-fed finished, or free-range food animal meats, natural cold-water or wild-caught fish from the sea, and naturally-grown plants in the forms of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and edible seeds, naturally fermented foods, whole-grains and complex carbs, natural herbs and spices, and antioxidants drinks, the way nature intended:
Grass-Fed Or Free-Range Finished Meats
Fresh, all-natural organic, non-GMO, nutrient-dense, protein-rich with all the essential amino acids, grass-fed finished beef and bison, free-range pork, lamb, and poultry, including chicken, turkey, and duck.
Free-Range or Cage-Free Hen Eggs
Fresh, nutrient-dense, high in protein with all the essential amino acids cage-free brown eggs.
Grass-Fed Dairy Cow Products
*For more information and documentation on meats, fish, eggs and dairy, read this review “A List Of Healthy Foods To Eat”.
Wild-Caught Or Cold-Water Fish and Seafood
Fresh, sea-grown, nutrient-dense, high in protein with all the essential amino acids, Wild-Caught Fish and Seafood, inclusing Alaskan Sockeye Salmon, Alaskin Halibut, Alaskin Sablefish, Wild Petrale Sole, Atlantic Sea Scallops, Wild Pink Shrimp, Caught Raw Shrimp, and Spring Water Sardines. Other cold water fish include Atlantic Spanish Mackerel, Lake Trout, Whole Wild-Caught Sardines, Wild-Caught Canadian Herring Kippers, Fresh Tuna, Fresh Smoked Sturgeon, Icelandic Cod, Haddock Filets.
*For more information and documentation on fish and seafood read this review “Buy Fresh Seafood Online.”
Naturally Organically-Grown Vegetables, Fruits, Whole Grains, Raw Nuts, and Seeds
Naturally-grown or certified-organic, GMO-free vegetables, fruits, whole-grains, nut, and seeds. While a lot of vegetables are considered incomplete proteins, a few plant-based foods are exceptions to the rule and are Complete Proteins, and contain all the essential amino acids. Soy can be found in a variety of forms such as whole soybeans. Tofu, tempeh, buckwheat, whey, chia seeds, grass-fed bone broath, miso, and soy milk or the main ones. Quinoa, a gluten-free pseudo grain, can be eaten and prepared similarly to traditional grains such as rice and barley.
Hemp seeds comes so close to being a complete protein, having all essential amino acids, but only a smal amount of one essential amino acid, which disqualifies it. However, it is still a great seed source for essential amino acids. Ezekiel’s Bread is a pretty interesting one. Made of wheat, barley, beans, lentils, millet, and spelt, mixed into a dough and baked to make a bread, is a Complete Protein. If sprouted grains are used it’s even more nutritious. Another is Seitan, made by mixing gluten with herbs and spices, into a broth boiled down, then cooked in soy sauce, to make a very meat-like substance and a Complete Protein with all the essential amino acids.
Starchy vegetables such as white potatoes, corn and sweet potatoes are good sources of amino acids in the diet. Like a majority of plant-based foods, starchy vegetables are considered an Incomplete Protein. An incomplete protein is a food that is lacking one or more of the nine essential amino acids. Generally, Fresh vegetables in a wide range of varieties depending on specific minro-nutrients. Most beneficial general food categories are dark leafy greens, most legumes, root veggies, and bright colored veggies.
Beans and legumes are a good source of vegetable-based amino acids. Some examples of these foods include black beans, kidney beans, peas, lentils, garbanzo beans and peanuts. Beans and legumes contain high levels of all the essential amino acids except one, and are considered a Incomplete Protein.
Leafy green vegetables are sources of a variety of nutrients including amino acids. These vegetables include spinach, kale, romaine, turnip greens, collards, Swiss chard and broccoli. Leafy greens contain higher levels of the amino acids leucine, lysine, phenylalinine and valine, but are still considered an Incomplete Protein. Although all nuts and seeds are incomplete proteins, pumpkin seeds, almonds, flax seeds, cashews, and sunflower seeds, are good sources of most of the essential amino acids. Eating these incomplete peoteins along with other incomplete proteins that contain higher levels of other amino acids, such as beans, nuts, seeds, legumes or starchy vegetables, can help you meet the daily requirements for each essential amino acid. Incomplete Protein vegetables, whole-grains, nuts, and seeds are known as Combination Proteins and should be eaten in combination with othher imcomplete proteins.
Combination Proteins High In Amino Acids
Here are some examples of combination proteins:
Organic Lentils and Wild Rice
Black Beans and Wild Rice w/ Corn Salad
Fruits are also considered Incomplete Proteins because they contain some of the essential amino acids such as Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine, and not the others. Good fruit sources for Leucine are Fresh Figs, Avocados, Raisons, Dates, Apples, Blueberries, Olives, and Bananas. Cranberries, Blueberries, Apples, and Kiwi, are good sources for Isoleucine amino acid. Valine is found in Figs, Advocados, Apples, Blueberries, Cranberries, Oranges, and Apricots.
*For more information and documentation on whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds read “Vitamins and Minerals Chart”.
Fresh, Certified Organic, GMO-free, Naturally Fermented Foods
*For more information and documentation on naturally fermented foods read this review “Healthy Nutrition Foods-The Ones You Never Thought Of”.
As we said earlier, you have a choice in maintaining the health and well being of you and your family. Are you willing to make changes in the way you buy foods, so you and your family can enjoy amino acids benefits, and all of the other healthy micronutrient benefits by purchasing naturall grown nutrient-dense, high protein foods, now that you have all of the facts?
And, that doesn’t mean buying from your favorite supermarket, because, first of all, the food they sell is not fresh, although it may look fresh, it isn’t. That food has been under refrigeration for weeks at a time, destroying at least 50% of the nutrients, sometimes higher, before it gets to you. One 2007 study published in the Journal of the Science and Agriculture found that vegetables lose between 15 and 77 percent of their vitamin C within a week of harvest, even when kept refrigerated.
Secondly, except for a few labeled organic items, is not certified organic which means it’s food produced using chemical fertilizers and sprayed with insecticides, or raised on inorganic feeds or corn-fed with genetically-modified (GMO’s) corn, hormones, and antibiotics, and totally unhealthy for you and your family.
We hope you enjoyed reading List Of Amino Acids And Their Functions and that it proves beneficial to you and your family achieving overall health and well being for a lifetime.
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