Stress Causes an Increased Demand for Protein
Protica Staff Writer - Wednesday, June 29, 2005
You might have heard that stress hampers health. But then what exactly is stress? Any condition that puts strain on the body and organs can be considered stress. Stress can lead to damage within the body including the breakdown of tissues and the death of cells. Stress can be of many types. The most common are physical (eg. strained muscles, spinal problems), emotional (eg. fear, anxiety, depression) and chemical (eg. drugs, pollution, food additives).

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You might have heard that stress hampers health. But then what exactly is stress? Any condition that puts strain on the body and organs can be considered stress. Stress can lead to damage within the body including the breakdown of tissues and the death of cells.  Stress can be of many types. The most common are physical (eg. strained muscles, spinal problems), emotional (eg. fear, anxiety, depression) and chemical (eg. drugs, pollution, food additives).

The nutritional requirements for the repair consequent to stressful situations are much greater than normal requirements. This is even more important in sickness when the appetite can be depressed.

There is an interesting parallel between stress and starvation. During starvation, the body’s metabolic rate decreases. This is a defense mechanism of the body to conserve energy. This leads to a drop in body temperature, decreased physical activity and increased sleep. During the first 72 hours of starvation, the brain utilizes its fuel produced by muscle protein. Later, since there is no other storage form of protein, lean body mass and vital organ tissue are catabolized. In severe stress, the body responds in a similar manner. There is one major difference, however: the body’s metabolic rate increases during severe stress and the patient becomes hypermetabolic. This response may be the result of a number of causes such as hypoxia, inflammation, necrosis, trauma including surgery and infection. Thus stress causes an increased demand for nutrition, especially protein.
 
Recent research has shown that stress will directly impact the immune system in a negative way. Interleukins, which are regulatory molecules, help orchestrate the immune response. Stress has been shown to decrease the interleukin production and their receptors.

Local and systemic inflammations are typically seen, especially after trauma or infection.  Whenever there is a wound, inflammation is present.  Theses inflammatory changes will increase energy demands as well as protein denaturation leading to catabolism.  Inflammatory mediators such as oxidants and proteases will denature protein resulting in a net catabolism.  The term “auto-destructive inflammation” is used to describe the process.

The metabolic changes that occur markedly alter the bodies processing of macronutrients.  After injury, the abnormal environment causes an intense stimulus to liver gluconeogenesis. Subsequently, a rapid breakdown of body protein (catabolism) occurs for use as carbohydrate substrate. The source of this body protein is lean mass.  The amino acids are released mainly as (1) alanine for liver glucose formation and (2) glutamine for use as fuel by the gut and for production of the endogenous antioxidant glutathione found in all tissues.  Protein is not spared and 24-30% of consumed protein is used for energy production.  Fat stores are inadequately utilized.

The inflammatory response is the reaction of a healthy immune system to trauma and disease. The first defense of the body against invasion of infection is the outer surface. These tissues like skin, lungs and gastrointestinal tract become sensitive to nutritional deficiencies because of their rapid turnover. The gut, for example, can become permeable to microorganisms when malnutrition is coupled with metabolic stress.

Thus nutrition, more importantly protein, is a major issue in stressful conditions. During these conditions there is an increased demand for protein.

Whey: Whey is a byproduct of cheese and casein manufacture. Whey proteins are an excellent protein source for everyone -- no matter what their age. From a nutritional perspective, whey reign supreme.

- Whey proteins contain high levels of the amino acid cysteine, which is needed to help the body produce glutathione. Glutathione is a powerful anti-oxidant and plays a key role in maintaining immune health.

- Whey proteins are high in the branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) leucine, isoleucine, and valine. The demand for BCAAs increases during extended periods of exercise and added stress, which can lead to fatigue and reduced physical performance. This demand can also have a negative effect on the immune system. A decrease in lean muscle tissue and protein malnutrition is often a problem with the elderly, and in many cases they will benefit from whey protein supplementation containing high levels of BCAAs.

- Whey proteins are easy to digest and quickly provide the high quality protein that is needed by the body.

- The second most abundant component in whey protein is alpha-lactalbumin, which is high in tryptophan. A recent study looked at the relationship between tryptophan-rich diets and stress management. Scientists had previously learned that stress causes the serotonin levels in the brain to decrease and this can contribute to mood disorders, such as depression. The new study showed that a diet including alpha-lactalbumin enriched whey protein was helpful in improving mood levels and in increasing serotonin levels in the brain.

- People who are recovering from surgery or are trying to heal a burn or wound often require additional protein in their diet. Exciting new research is being conducted that indicates certain whey protein components help provide the growth of new body tissue. This work is ongoing and still in the early stages.


Casein: Casein is another milk protein. Caseins are a family of phosphoproteins synthesized in the mammary gland. Caseins possess immune modulatory activity and can influence gut motility.  Caseins are extremely high in the amino acid glutamine, which is the most abundant amino acid found in skeletal muscles and may also play a role in supporting the immune system.

 

About Protica

Founded in 2001, Protica, Inc. is a nutritional research firm with offices in Lafayette Hill and Conshohocken, Pennsylvania. Protica manufactures capsulized foods, including Profect, a compact, hypoallergenic, ready-to-drink protein beverage containing zero carbohydrates and zero fat. Information on Protica is available at http://www.protica.com 

You can also learn about Profect at http://www.profect.com 

Copyright - Protica Research - http://www.protica.com

 

References

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2. Moore FD, Brennan M. Surgical injury, body composition, protein metabolism and neuro-endocrinology. In Ballinger W, Collins J, Manuel of Surgical Nutrition. Saunders W, Philadelphia 1975:p 169-202.

3. Utermohlen V. Disease induced metabolic stress: immune function and nutrition. Presentation at A.S.P.E.N. Clinical congress. Miami. 1995. Jan 16-18.

4. Koruda MJ. Nutrition support in trauma. Presentation at trends in clinical nutrition support A.S.P.E.N. Postgraduate course. Raleigh NC. 1991, May 30-31.

5. Meinertz H, Faergeman O, Nilausen K, Chapman MJ, Goldstein S, Laplaud P.M. Effects of soy protein and casein in low cholesterol diets on plasma lipoproteins in normolipidemic subjects. Atherosclerosis. 1988 Jul; 72(1): 63-70.

6. Wolfe R. Relation of metabolic studies to clinical nutrition: the example of burn injury. Am J Clin Nutr 1996:64; 800-808.

7. Kester P, Caplan R, Souba W, Andrassy R. Metabolic response to trauma. Contemp Ortho 1987:14; 53-59.

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