Heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke are major causes of disability and death in people of African descent.
Genetic research, looking at how certain diseases run in families, has uncovered a significant genetic variance (called polymorphism) that directly increases the risk of cardiovascular disease in many people of African descent. The problem lies in the body’s too rapid break down of a simple amino acid, L-arginine, which can lead to weakened or damaged blood vessels increasing the risk for heart attacks, high blood pressure, and strokes.
As science expands our knowledge, the new field of nutritional genetic research is breaking down medical barriers and fast evolving into one of the most important natural health movements in the world. This combination of nutrition and genetics has emerged as a powerful method to enhance bodily systems and maintain optimum vigor and energy. One of the breakthrough discoveries centers on the remarkable properties of L-arginine.
L-arginine is an essential amino acid found in foods like milk, cheese, yogurt, meat, and other proteins. However, when isolated and properly brought into the body, L-arginine has the ability to produce some remarkable results. In fact, L-arginine is considered one of the most important neutraceuticals ever developed and is referred to by scientists as the Miracle Molecule. The scientific community validated the remarkable properties of L-arginine with the 1998 Nobel Prize in Medicine. Columbia University refers to L-arginine as the “MAGIC BULLET” for the cardiovascular system. Columbia’s researchers have compiled over 10,000 citations and even include L-arginine in its course material at the Columbia University of Medicine Physicians and Surgeons.In general, L-arginine research suggests the following benefits:
o Counters heart disease and aids in blood pressure regulation.
o Improves insulin sensitivity to help normalize blood sugar.
o Bolsters immune system, boosts energy and increases lean muscle.
o Increases stamina and sports performance.
o Promotes reproductive health.
So, how does all this play out in the African-American population?
Basically, there are tens of thousands of enzymes that help regulate all bodily functions. One critical enzyme is nitric oxide synthetase (NOS). NOS is directly responsible for the production of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is necessary for the healthy elasticity of blood vessels. In fact, you could not live without nitric oxide. And, when blood vessels remain supple or elastic, the risk of plaque build-up, which often leads to heart attacks, high blood pressure and strokes, is greatly reduced.
In the genetic polymorphism that was recently discovered in the African-American community, there is too much of another enzyme called arginase in the blood stream. Arginase causes L-arginine to be destroyed so that L-arginine is no longer available to the enzyme nitric oxide synthetase. This greatly reduces the production of nitric oxide which is critical to the proper health and function of the blood vessels. This has a direct effect on the cardiovascular system and is the major reason why so many in the African-American community see a higher level of cardiovascular disease in the form of high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.
In addition, nitric oxide is equally important for reproductive health since it is directly responsible for the vasodilation required for an erection to occur. Leading nitric oxide researcher, Dr. Arthur Burnett, a Johns Hopkins Urologist, stated that nitric oxide is the chemical messenger that produces erections and without nitric oxide, there could be no natural erections. For more details on this aspect and the role L-arginine plays in it, please read the article: The Magic Bullet Series: L-arginine & Fertility!
Now, before you go out and start buying L-arginine supplements you need to be aware of the dark side of this amino acid.
L-arginine ingested in its pure form tastes terrible and will simply go into the stomach, move into the intestinal tract and then into the gut, negating most of its benefits. There is only one way for L-arginine to be safe and effective and that is in a powder form with a specific gycloside rider. By itself, not only does L-arginine taste terrible but it can also have some serious side effects like:
o Increasing free-radical brain damage.
o Activation of the herpes simplex virus.
o Reduce sperm motility.
That is why L-arginine is also called the “double-edged sword.”
Because the L-arginine molecule is a blind amino acid it must be attached to a rider to direct it to the area in the body where it will have an impact. Through much research and development, it was determined that an L-arginine molecule attached to a kiwi glycoside (from the Kiwi plant) will create the formulation that allows L-arginine to cross the proper barriers as well as allow it to be taken orally without the taste buds rejecting it. The patent holder for this process is Dr. Ann de wees Allen, the world’s leading authority on L-arginine. With the help of Dr. Clair Francomano (Chief, Human Genetics, Laboratory of Genetics, National Institute on Aging) and Dr. Randall Maxey (President, National Medical Association Research Foundation for Ethnic-Related Diseases), Dr. Allen was able to genetically engineer a low-glycemic delivery system for L-arginine specifically designed for the African-American community.
To be effective, L-arginine must utilize a low-glycemic method.
Research has shown that high-glycemic ingredients like maltodextrin, sucrose, table sugars, dextrose, glucose, polymers, honey, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, and fruit juice actually block L-arginine absorption. There are also agents or antagonists that directly compete with L-arginine to block its health benefits. These antagonists include lysine, ornithine, proteins, amino acids, high glycemic sugars, synthetic sweeteners, and ingredients and flavor systems made with high glycemic ingredients.
So what is the bottom line to all of this?
L-arginine can have a profound and positive effect on the cardiovascular health of the African-American community but you need to use caution when choosing an L-arginine product. Ask questions like:
o Does it contain high glycemic ingredients to improve taste?
o Does it use direct antagonists that will block its health benefits?
o Do the methods of consumption follow the guidelines for making L-arginine available for the body?
o Who is the L-arginine researcher behind the product and what is their level of expertise in product design?
o Are there any documented studies to show the effectiveness of the product you are considering?
To learn more about the fascinating science behind L-arginine, the “Magic Bullet” please read the rest of our series of articles on this remarkable molecule.