Lessons from a Nutritionist (Part 3)

I guess its high time I stop procrastinating and wrap up this series of posts. This time I’m covering the specific supplements Dr.John prescribed for me as well as summarizing the major lessons learnt.

Lessons from a nutritionist part 3

Supplements:

1. Wobenzym N (Garden of Life)

This is a systemic enzyme support supplement designed to “assist the body’s various regulatory and communication systems, specifically the immune system.” Each serving consists 3 tablets coated with a vegetable-based enteric coating:

  1. Pancreatin 
    Also known as “pancreatic acid”, it consits of several digestive enzymes rpoduced by our pancreas. Specifically amylase, lipase and protease. It is usually prescribed for conditions related to deficient pancreatic secretions but has also been claimed to aid in “food allergies, celiac disease, autoimmune disease, cancer and weight loss”.
  2. Papain 
    Another combination of enzymes extrated from Papaya. Some effective uses of Papain is as a meat tenderizer, to clean up dead tissues in chronic wounds and according to Dr.John, soaking grains (like oats), seeds or nuts that may have been cross-contaminated by Gluten in Papaya “can neutralize the gluten to make this inactive — this is thought to work by the papain enzyme liberating ammonia from gluten protein making it non-antigenic and benign [Gut 1964;5:295-303].”
  3. Bromelain
    A collection of protein enzymes derived from the stem or core of pineapples. It is believed to have strong anti-inflammatory properties and may aid in arthritic related conditions like joint pains. It is also used as a meat tenderizer.
  4. Trypsin
    Another enzyme produced in the pancrease and only activated in the small intestines of vertebrates which aids in the breaking down of proteins. Tryptic digestion is necessary as the proteins are too large to be absorped by the lining of the intestine.In its microbial form, Trypsin can be used to dissolve blood clots. In its pancreatic form, it can be used to treat inflammation. Other uses in food are similar to those mentioned above like tenderizing meat, extracting seasoning and flavour from vegetables and meat for sauces and controlling aroma in cheese and milk.
  5. Chymotrypsin
    Another component of pacreatic secretion, this digestive enzyme is activated in the presence of Trypsin. Similar to Trypsin, its main use is to  facilitate the cleavage of peptide bonds by a hydrolysis reaction.
  6. Rutin
    A flavonoid found in many plant species like the Sour Fig, Buckwheat, Asparagus and Green Tea infusions. In animals, it “attaches to the iron ion Fe2+, preventing it from binding to hydrogen peroxide, which would otherwise create a highly reactive free radical that may damage cells.” Thus it can be considered an antioxidant. It also has anti-inflammatory properties and is “rated as “possibly effective” for osteoarthritis on the basis of a single double-blind trial of an enzyme product (bromelain, trypsin, and rutin) versus diclofenac.”

The manufacturers of Wobenzyme N claims that their product “supports the musculoskeletal system by promoting health and mobility in joints and muscles, and has been used for many decades.” Additionally, since it works systemically, it is also supposed to support the circulatory, respiratory and immune system. They add that enzymes have a critical role in the body and about 15,000 of them are constantly at work in our bodies daily. They are involved “in a variety of bodily processes including: breathing, growing, digesting, producing energy, conducting nerve impulses, clotting blood, recovering after exercise, or balancing the complex processes of the immune system.”

When I first consulted Dr.John, I had extreme pain in my foot of which the Rheumatologist was unsure if it was because of Spondyloarthritis or Gout as I opted not to do the testing. Dr.John told me of the story of his brother who had severe Gout pain and 2 days after starting on Wobenzyme N, had almost no more pain.

In my case, a few days after taking Wobenzyme N, the joint pain was significantly decreased. However, there was still some residual pain at certain areas which I felt were the sites where ligaments or tendons attached to my bones so it could have been both and Wobenzyme N did a great job of helping reduce the Gout-like pain.

Another thing worth mentioning is the enzymatic effect of this supplement in aiding in digesting otherwise un-digestable proteins like Gluten. Back then, I was following the Autoimmune Paleo Protocol very strictly and this involved eliminating all foods known or suspected to cause an autoimmune response in the body. I realized that after consuming something that wasn’t on the protocol like bread or milk, the joint pains would increase significantly that night or the following morning.

I then decided to try an experiment and take Wobenzyme N immediately before consuming such foods (which sometimes couldn’t be avoided like when I ate out and there was soy sauce added to the dishes). This had a significant impact in pain reduction subsequently and I wonder if it was because the enzymes aided in breaking down those undigestible proteins. Of course, it could all be a placebo effect as well but I’m not too sure how effective a placebo is against pain.

References and more information:

  1. Product info 
  2. Critic: Wobenzym N: A closer look at “systemic” enzyme therapy

 2. L-Glutamine + FOS Powder (Douglas Labs)

This product supplies 2.5 g of L-glutamine and 1.5 g of FructoOligoSaccharides (FOS), a prebiotic, per teaspoon.

Glutamine is an amino acid that plays a crucial role in the healthy metabolism, structure and function of the Gastro-Intestinal (GI) tract and the immune system.  Being the most abundant amino acid in blood, Glutamine acts as a vehicle for nitrogen transport such as carrying potentially toxic ammonia to the kidneys to be excreted, thereby  maintaining normal acid-base balance in the blood.

Numerous clinical studies have shown that glutamine is vital for maintaining normal function of the entire gastrointestinal tract, including the liver and pancreas. Besides helping to sustain regular intestinal permeability, Glutamine also has a role in the healing of mucosal cells and structure, especially during times of physiological stress. At the same time, glutamine supports normal immune function of the gastrointestinal tract and the liver.

Glutamine can be produced by our bodies or obtained through dietary consumption and about 10-12% of the Glutamine circulating in our blood is utilized by our GI tract, in addition to that absorbed from our food.  The GI tract requires so much Glutamine because intestinal mucosal cells need it to synthesize several important compounds like nucleotides required for cell division, amino sugars for constructing intestinal mucous and various amino acids critical for protein synthesis. In times of physiological stress such as starvation, physical trauma or surgery, the GI tract increase its demands for Glutamine, extracting it from the blood and the body starts to catabolize muscle to supply more Glutamine.

Glutamine also plays a role as a key nitrogen donor and energy source for the immune cells of the mucosa, mesentery and the liver. These immune cells require much more glutamine when the GI tract contracts an infection – as much as 10 times more.

Prebiotics like FOS are carbohydrates that have short molecular chains and function as nondigestible ingredients that are beneficial to selected groups of good bateria in our intestines, such as lactobacillus. They are different from probiotics which serve to increase the population of beneficial microflora. Prebiotics allow for a more conducive intestinal environment that enables colonies of good bacteria to flourish which in turn decreases the proportion of pathogenic microflora (bad bacteria).

Intestinal permeability, aka leaky gut syndrome, and inflammation of the GI track has been associated with almost all autoimmune diseases. Thus I can see the why Dr.John supplemented me with this product in an aid to heal the GI tract to decrease permeability and inflammation. The FOS is an added bonus to increase the proportion of good bacteria in the gut.

References and more information:

  1. Product
  2. Science
  3. Supplementation Scrutiny
  4. Mechanisms of disease: the role of intestinal barrier function in the pathogenesis of gastrointestinal autoimmune diseases
  5. Autoimmunity and the Gut

3. Multi-Probiotic 40 Billion (Douglas Labs)

This is a pro- and prebiotic product which means it supplies humans with beneficial gut bacteria and the appropriate food source (scFOS, also called short chain fructooligosaccharides) of those bacteria to enable them to flourish. Each serving (2 capsules) of this product contains 40 billion microbiota. More specifically, there are 16 different strains: Bifidobacterium bifidum, Bifidobacterium breve, Bifidobacterium lactis (infantis), Bifidobacterium lactis HN019, Bifidobacterium longum, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus brevis, Lactobacillus bulgaricus, Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus gasseri, Lactobacillus paracasei, Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus salivarius, Lactococcus lactis and Streptococcus thermophilus.

The role of our gut bacteria to human health cannot be emphasized enough. An imbalanced or unhealthy population of gut microbiome has been associated with the development of various diseases like metabolic disorders, obesity and type 2 diabetes. Yes, this means your gut microflora could be one of the reasons why one is fat or skinny. Numerous factors influence the population of our gut bacteria from the type of birth (vaginally or Cesarean section), to the overly hygenic environment we live in today to the use of antibiotics.

Probiotics have been shown to exert a beneficial support through modification of the immune system host via the gut environment. Clinical trials also suggest that the exposure to healthy microbes through the gastrointestinal tract powerfully shapes immune function.

In summary, this product is meant to replenish and help increase the proportion of good bacteria within the intestinal tract to support optimal gastrointestinal and immune function and reduce or prevent inflammation of the intestinal tract which as mentioned above, has been associated with autoimmune disorders.

4. MSM (Pure Encapsulations)

MSM stands for Methylsulfonylmethane. It is a naturally occurring organic compound which contains sulfur. It can be found in various plant and animal foods such as bovine dairy (6.1−8.2ppm), chicken (liver and connective tissue), coffee, cabbage, beets, swiss chard, alfafa and even tea (Camellia sinensis). 

Like Glucosamine and Chondroitin, MSM is a popular supplement for joint health. Sulfur is important for maintaining connective tissue health, especially those containing substantial amounts of collagen or keratin.

MSM may also play a supportive role in maintaining the health of the immune and respiratory systems, have general anti-inflammatory effects and shows promise in the treatment of osteoarthritis, some cancers (breast & melanoma) and inflammatory bowel disease.

I’m currently taking the powdered form and man it really tastes horrible. So bad that I almost vomitted a few times. DO NOT take this on an empty stomach.

References and more information:

  1. Product info 
  2. Scientific scrutiny

5. SAM-e (Duoglas Labs)

SAM-e stands for S-Adenosyl Methionine which is an amino acid methionine attached to an Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) molecule, the energy currency of life. SAM-e’s main job in the body is as a molecule that gives a methyl group to other molecules. By doing so, it can speed up or preserve certain reactions in the body thereby promoting healthy regulation of the body’s physiological processes and metabolism. SAM-e is also important for joint, liver and brain function.

References and more information:

  1. Product data & science
  2. Scientific Review

6. Varitonin (Douglas Labs)

This supplement contains a blend of Vitamin C (250mg), Hesperidin Methyl Chalcone (125mg), and standardized extracts of Horse Chestnut (250mg), Butcher’s Broom(50mg), and Gotu Kola (60mg) and is marketed as a comprehensive vascular support.

Did you know that apart from Vitamin C’s anti-oxidant abilities, Vitamin C is “essential for the synthesis of collagen and glycosaminoglycans, which are the building materials of all connective tissues, such as skin, blood vessels, tendons, joint cartilage and bone. Vitamin C is the required coenzyme for two groups of enzymes that catalyze the cross-linking of collagen fibers – lysyl hydroxylases and prolyl hydroxylases. As such, vitamin C is essential for capillary health.”

Horse Chestnut is famed for its numerous flavonoids and phytochemicals and is thus widely promoted to aid in the strength and integrity of our veins and capillaries. From reducing capillary permeability to enhancing venous tone and promoting diuresis.

Butcher’s Broom has been recognized since the ancient greeks’ time and similar to Horse Chestnut, it promotes, venous tone, reduces capillary permeability and constricts blood vessels.

Gotu Kola is a beneficial botanical extract containing several saponins that promotes vascular health by strengthening microvasculature which in turn enhances blood circulation to the legs and prevent excess fluid retention in the lower extremities.

Lastly, Hesperidin Methylchalcone helps strengthen capillaries by increasing capillary resistance and decreasing capillary permeability. This methylated derivative of the flavonoid hesperidin also increased venous constriction ability, tone, and the ability of vessels to dilate.

Reference and more information: Varitonin Product Data

7. Carbo-Syn (Douglas Labs)

Lastly, this product is a synergistic blend of nutrients designed to support our bodies’ healthy metabolism of carbohydrates. According to Dr.John, when this doesn’t happen, the sugars from carbohydrates are not used up by our muscles and remain in our blood which causes the pancrease to excrete high levels of insulin, promoting the convertion of sugars to fats and adding that to our body’s fat reserves. 

Each serving of 4 vegetarian capsules contains:

  1. Vitamin A – 1000 IU
  2. Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid) – 300 mg
  3.  Vitamin E (as Vitamin E Succinate) – 30 IU
  4. Thiamine – 10 mg
  5. Riboflavin – 5 mg
  6. Niacinamide – 200mg
  7. Vitamin B-6 (as Pyridoxine HCI) – 10 mg
  8. Folic Acid – 20 mcg
  9. Vitamin B-12 – 10 mcg
  10. Pantothenic Acid (as Calcium Pantothenate) – 50 mg
  11. Calcium (from Calcium Citrate Complex) – 100 mg
  12. Iodine (from Kelp) – 20 mcg
  13. Magnesium (from Magnesium Aspartate/Oxide) – 200 mg
  14. Zinc (from Zinc Aspartate Complex) – 10 mg
  15. Selenium (from Selenium Krebs*) – 10 mcg
  16. Copper (from Copper Sebecate) – 2 mg
  17. Manganese (from Manganese Aspartate/Sulphate) – 5 mg
  18. Chromium (from Chromium Chelate) – 400 mcg
  19. Molybdenum (from Molybdenum Krebs*) – 10 mcg
  20. Potassium (from Potassium Aspartate/Chloride) – 25 mg
  21. Hesperidin Complex – 10 mg
  22. Rutin – 5 mg
  23. Bioflavonoids – 100 mg
  24. Vanadium (from Vanadium Krebs*) – 10 mcg
  25. Pancreatin 8X – 62.5 mg
    Supplying:
    Amylase 12,500 USP units
    Protease 12,500 USP units
    Lipase Activity 1,000 USP units
  26. Lecithin (from soy) – 500 mg
  27. Lactalbumin Hydrolysate (milk) – 250 mg
  28. Alpha Lipoic Acid – 150 mg
  29. Other ingredients: Hydroxypropyl methycellulose, cellulose, magnesium sterate and magnesium silicate

*Krebs = Citrate, Fumarate, Malate, Glutarate and Succinate Complex

Looking at that long list of ingredients, I guess this can double up as a multivitamin too!

Prescription

  1. Wobenzyme N – 3 tablets, 2x a day on an empty stomach
  2. L-Glutamine + FOS Powder – 2 teaspoons (8g) once daily on an empty stomach
  3. Multi-Probiotic 40 Billion – 1 capsule twice daily after meals
  4. MSM – 3g once daily after meal
  5. SAM-e – 1 tablet once daily after dinner
  6. Varitonin – 1 capsule thrice daily after meals
  7. Carbo-SYN – 1 capsule thrice daily with meals

Summary of Lessons Learnt

  1. Minimize the use of plastic food/drink containers, especially when they come in contact with liquids.

  2. Eradicate foods with animal steroids from your diet. These are commonly fed to farm-bred fish like Pacific Dory and seabass, as well as common livestock like cattle to speed up their growth,.
  3. Reduce intake of processed and artificial foods such as Spam, fishballs, sausages and hamburgers.
  4. Minimize intake of food chemicals such as preservatives, monosodium glutamate (MSG), sodium benzoate and nitrates which are commonly found in sauces such as soya sauce and tomato ketchup – When eating out, request for dishes without sauces and dressings.
  5. Incorporate more whole foods in your diet i.e. non-processed meats and vegetables into your daily diet.
  6. Take nutritional supplements to ensure your body has enough nutrients.

Reference: http://www.citynews.sg/2010/09/nutrition-that-saves-lives/

Questions? What are your opinions about these supplements and lessons learnt? I’d love to hear them, comment below!


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