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October 16, 2008

Neutralizing Protein-Derived Toxins With Soluble Fiber and Resistant Starch

HumanBody1 In the previous Integrated Supplements Blog post, we looked at some of the protein–derived toxins which can be formed during the production of some protein powders commonly used as ingredients in nutritional supplements.

We saw how the harsh alkali chemicals, used in the production of protein powders such as soy protein and calcium caseinate, lead to the formation of various denatured, cross linked, and structurally altered protein–toxins like lysinoalanine.

And, we also saw how these toxic protein structures are able to “feed” the bad bacteria in our gastrointestinal tracts leading to the subsequent production of yet more protein–toxins such as phenols, cresols, indoles, amines, and ammonia – all of which are implicated in the development of colon cancer and various gastrointestinal disorders.

So, the existing research makes it clear that we should take every step possible to avoid consuming products made with overly–processed and denatured protein ingredients like soy protein, whey protein concentrate, and calcium caseinate.

And similarly, because of the high–heat processing (pasteurization) they must undergo, we should also take steps to eliminate prepared drinks (like ready–to–drink protein shakes, and soymilks) which are formulated using these same protein ingredients. High–heat processing has been shown to cause the production of shockingly high amounts of such protein–toxins, and, as evidence of their toxicity, these drinks have been shown to dramatically elevate cholesterol levels.

(Please see: Protein-Derived Toxins in Foods and Nutritional Supplements for more information, and for links to the relevant studies.)

But while these protein powders and drinks are probably the “worst–of–the–worst” in regard to the toxic byproducts they produce in our bodies, protein–derived toxins can also form from the ingestion of “ordinary” protein–containing foods as well.

In fact, one of the strongest scientific cases for vegetarianism is the fact that meat (especially red meats), can lead to the production of the very same protein–derived toxins within the gastrointestinal tract.

But, rather than needing to adhere to a strict vegetarian regime, recent research indicates, that if we consume certain protective nutritional elements, we may be able to largely eliminate the formation of protein–derived toxins from a high–protein diet.

To boot, such protective elements, namely, soluble fiber and resistant starch, not only eliminate protein–derived toxins – they can actually lead to the production of several protective elements by selectively feeding the “good” bacteria in our gastrointestinal tracts.

Soluble Fiber and Resistant Starch

As recently as several decades ago, scientists still thought of dietary fiber (and resistant starch – a unique type of dietary fiber) merely as the “inert” indigestible portions of plant–based foods. Even by the 1960’s when British surgeon, Denis Burkitt and colleagues coined the “fiber hypothesis” – the idea that high fiber foods may help to prevent colon cancer and other diseases of modern civilization – the beneficial effects of fiber were still simplistically assumed to involve fiber’s well–known effect of improving regularity.

But, while recent studies have failed to show a clear link between overall fiber intake and risk of gastrointestinal cancer. . .

Boston Globe Article Link – Doubts cast on fiber's effect on cancer

. . .other studies have shown that certain types of fiber may be particularly protective in this regard:

All Dietary Fiber Is Not Created Equal – Study Shows That Only Certain Types of Fiber Prevent Pre–Cancerous Changes of the Colon

So, rather than lumping all types of dietary fiber under one umbrella, some thinking scientists have begun to explore the varied effects of different types of fiber. As a result, the dietary fibers now suspected to be the most protective against protein–toxins, and the cancerous changes they cause, are the select few dietary fibers which are able to support the production of beneficial colonic flora (i.e. our “good” intestinal bacteria) – soluble fiber and resistant starch.

As we wrote about in the above–linked blog article, fermentable fibers feed beneficial bacteria which, in turn, produce a protective short–chain fatty acid called butyrate as a natural byproduct of their metabolism.

And, not only do these bacteria produce butyrate, which helps to nourish and protect the cells of the colon, but, as it turns out, these same beneficial bacteria are able to significantly reduce the production of protein–based toxins, as was found in this study:

Study Link – Resistant starch lowers fecal concentrations of ammonia and phenols in humans.

Quote from the above study:

These results suggest that RS (resistant starch) significantly attenuates the accumulation of potentially harmful byproducts of protein fermentation in the human colon.

In fact, It’s likely to be our beneficial intestinal flora (and not just the fiber itself) which neutralizes the production of toxic metabolites from dietary protein.

As mentioned above, some of the protein we eat is able to travel all the way to the colon without being digested or absorbed. In the presence of a low–fiber diet, relatively “bad” bacteria will predominate in the colon, and these bacteria are able to metabolize this protein into the previously–mentioned toxic substances such as phenols, cresols, indoles, amines and ammonia.

But, on the other hand, if we supply our good bacteria with abundant amounts of soluble fiber/resistant starch, they (and not the bad bacteria) use the protein to grow and flourish in the intestines.

In other words, in the presence of certain types of fiber, beneficial bacteria are able to metabolize the nitrogen–containing components of undigested protein for their growth – thus simultaneously lowering the burden of toxic metabolites, (phenol, cresol, and ammonia); while increasing the production of beneficial substances like butyrate and other short chain fatty acids.

Scientists call the beneficial bacteria in our colon a “nitrogen sink” – meaning, a biomass which is able to metabolize nitrogen compounds (proteins) towards beneficial ends instead of toxic ones. While it often goes unrecognized, this natural form of “bioremediation” represents a stunning example of biological synergy, essential to our optimal health.

Feeding The Beneficial Bacteria

As we’ve repeatedly mentioned, only some types of fiber help to support the growth of the beneficial bacteria in our intestines, and this fact helps to explain why, despite effective marketing, certain types of fiber (i.e. some bran cereals), and intestinal “cleansers” and laxatives (both herbal and pharmacological) probably do relatively little to improve overall gastrointestinal health.

The synergy of protein and soluble fiber/resistant starch in supporting a healthy intestinal ecosystem is but one of countless examples in nutrition of the fact that nutrients never work in isolation from one another. Failure to grasp this concept has led to a great many dead ends in nutritional research where isolated nutrients continually fail to live up to their initial hype.

But, an integrated approach is the cornerstone of our philosophy at Integrated Supplements, and it’s just one of the reasons why we produce 100% Natural CFM® Whey Protein Isolate – the highest quality, undenatured whey protein available – along with Fiber Balance™, a smooth and delicious combination of 5 types of dietary fiber and resistant starch – all known to support the proliferation of healthy intestinal bacteria.

As research like that posted above continues to mount, our approach is consistently and repeatedly being validated. And as we continue to put the pieces of the nutritional puzzle together, we can confidently state that Integrated Supplements truly is Nutrition For Your Full Human Potential.

We’ll have more research soon – stay tuned.

Related Articles:

Can Some Types of Dietary Fiber Extend Your Life?

All Dietary Fiber Is Not Created Equal - Study Shows That Only Certain Types of Fiber Prevent Pre-Cancerous Changes of the Colon

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