Amino Acid Therapy: So Many Protein Choices, So Little Time

Rice ProteinsBefore any major diet modification, whether for weight loss, desire to eat healthier, or a way to treat a health concern, the body needs to go through a period of detoxification. For many of us who decide to make dietary changes in our own diet, we’re intervening eating habits that have been in place for 5, 10, maybe even 20 years. During this time, our bodies have collected and stored fat in areas of our body where we don’t exactly like to see it.  If you’re aiming for weight loss, this fat needs to be broken down and released before you see body changes.

Even if you’re changing your eating habits due to a health reason, before you see the beneficial effects, you need to detoxify the body. Just as people who are coming off of a drug habit have to clean the remaining toxins from their system before they can begin their recovery, so must we when we’re changing ours, or our child’s diet in order to begin the journey to a healthy, properly functioning body.

There are a number of products or temporary diets that exist that are designed to allow the body to detoxify. One such product is protein powder. You may have heard of this used a lot amongst men and women who work out in the gym often. This is because protein aids in building muscle. So, it kind of makes sense that they would reach for the protein. Before you get nervous and think “I don’t want muscle! I just want a healthy body”,  don’t worry. Protein serves many other purposes.

Protein Powder treatment is also known as Amino Acid Therapy, because protein itself is made up of essential and non-essential amino acids. The body needs both amino acids, but is only able to produce non-essential amino acids on its own. Essential amino acids must be taken in from an outside source, usually food.

Protein is an essential nutrient that is needed by everybody, everyday as it helps repair body cells, provides a source of energy, as well as regulates metabolism. It also activates the production of the body’s natural detoxifying enzymes. These enzymes then break down the toxins into water-soluble substances so that they can be released from the body.

Relatively easy, right? We are going to take a little bit of a turn though, and explore the different kinds of protein. Yes, there are different kinds, and each has it’s own unique benefits to the body.

Whey Protein: Whey is one of the products (along with curds) that is produced when making cheese from cow’s milk. Whey protein is a great protein for the body because it is much more soluble, meaning it can absorb more toxins to release from the body. Additionally, Whey doesn’t stick to your arteries and digestion is easy, so it is often given to infants and children to promote healthy body function.

Rice Protein: Rice Protein is favored because of its hypoallergenic properties. This is key for people who are on a Gluten Free diet as inflammation typically occurs. Rice Proteins are sodium-free, cholesterol-free, and have minimal fat content. These proteins can store in muscles, and give the body an extra boost when it needs it. Know in the middle of the day when you go through your coffee crash from the caffeine? Imagine having something in your body programmed to pick you up. Yep, that’s the rice protein. Also an interesting fact is that Rice Protein are about 70% Protein and are rich sources of amino acids, which researchers have found is very close to the profile of breast milk.

Soy Protein: Soy Protein has been researched a lot over the last 10 years and is believed to have an effect on preventing osteoporosis, lowering the risk of cancer, and reducing abdominal fat. Here’s a neat little tidbit that we found from the official Soy Website:

The most important scientific study about the relationship of soy protein intake and heart disease is the meta-study by Anderson et al (Meta-analysis of the effects of soy protein intake on serum lipids. N Engl J Med 1995;333:276-282). They concluded that the consumption of soy protein rather than animal protein significantly decreased serum concentrations of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides without significantly affecting serum HDL cholesterol concentrations.

Vegan Protein/Hemp Protein: The vegan movement has been very big in the USA and throughout the world. Many young adults as well as middle aged people are turning to the vegan diet, which eliminates foods that come from any non-human animal. Hemp protein is used by a large amount of Vegans in particular because they aren’t getting the protein that they need from the traditional sources like chicken and eggs. Hemp Protein is considered to be one of the best plant-based proteins because it contains all of the essential amino acids that your body needs. It also contains a lot of the same proteins that the human body has. Because of this it is easily digested. Hemp Protein is high in fiber and essential fatty acids, and is a great source of many vitamins and minerals.

Amino Acid Therapy And Autism

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When it comes to Autism, we’ve said it several times that it’s important to treat the individual symptoms. One of the most commonly experienced symptoms of Autism is Gastrointestinal (GI) problems. The believed source of the problems will range depending on the doctor that you speak to, but a common belief is that GI problems originate due to an Amino Acid deficiency.

Amino Acids are the ‘building blocks of proteins. From them, we get neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters, or lack thereof, are often the cause of many psychological conditions including anxiety, depression, and panic disorders. When the body lacks serotonin, norepinephrine, epinephrine, and dopamine, it effects the messages between nerve cells.

There are 20 amino acids. 10 of them are considered to be non-essential amino acids and 10 are essential amino acids. The difference between the two are that non-essential amino acids can and are produced by the body, whereas essential amino acids are not able to be produced by the body and must be obtained from the foods that we eat.

What do Amino Acids Have To Do With Autism?

Bodies that have some sort of chronic or recurring condition are often severely lacking in amino acids. Conditions such as leaky gut syndrome and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), both which are a common symptom of Autism, can prevent the body from absorbing the key nutrients and amino acids. Because of this, the body’s essential neurotransmitters may be eliminated.

So, just because you are feeding your child the correct foods, or have them on the right diet, does not mean the body is absorbing the essential nutrients needed to produce neurotransmitters.

Amino Acid Therapy Methods:

Logically, the goal of balancing neurotransmitters is to replenish the body when it is lacking.  The number one way of achieving this often thought to be prescription medication. However, most, if not all prescription medications aimed at treating neurotransmitter and amino acid deficiency have moderate to severe side effects ranging from sleeplessness to suicidal thoughts.

Amino Acid therapy is often utilized in Autism, and many doctors believe that it is a better approach to treatment as there are no major side effects as their are in prescription medications.  Because medications often have a risk of constipation and other digestive issues, medications with such risks seem almost counter productive to solving the issue.

Diet Modification:

Paying attention to your child’s diet is one of the keys to treating Autism. One approach to a healthy amino acid therapeutic diet is having meals that have a 40%-30%-30% ratio. That is, 40% carbohydrates, 30% protein, and 30% healthy fat.  Turkey and milk are both great sources of tryptophan, which promotes serotonin production. During snack time, try to provide a protein-rich snack rather than a refined sugar snack.

It is also important that when you are replenishing amino acids to your child’s diet, that you supplement high-quality amino acids. This is very important in Autism since, as we stated, the common GI problems that the Autistic body often has is an indicator that the body is already severely lacking in amino acids. Replenishing the body with high-quality amino acids is also great preparation for when the body experiences illnesses, or when amino acid deficiency is even more common.

Supplements

Taking a look at your child’s diet is only one of the many ways in which you can replenish the body with amino acids.  Though it is the first step, once a firm, effective diet is in place, a neurotransmitter test may be conducted to see which individual neurotransmitter levels may be low. From there, you can be directed to give your child a supplement to promote the replenishment of amino acids. Here are some of the key vitamins that the Autistic body needs.

Bone Broth and Autism Diet

An often forgotten source of nutrition is bone broth, or good old fashioned homemade chick broth. These homemade broths are high in protein as well as in calcium and magnesium. These minerals are absorbed into the body. Also in bone broth are glucosamine and chondroiton, both believed to promote relief from joint pain. Gelatin is also in bone broth, and is also a great source of supplementary protein. It’s important to note that you cannot get the same health benefits from boxed or store-bought chicken broth or bone broth. These are often highly processed and some of the health benefits and minerals are often lost.

While there has not been one, widely accepted solution to making the Autistic body healthier, the mere fact Amino Acid Therapy does not have any notable side effects, while medications have suicide risks (see here), should be proof enough that medication might not be the answer.

*It is essential to note that you must speak to your doctor before making the switch between medication and amino acid therapy.DO NOT TAKE YOUR CHILD OFF OF MEDICATION WITHOUT CONSULTING A PHYSICIAN. Doing so can promote withdrawal and severe and life threatening symptoms.