Amino Acids are protein building blocks and proteins are the building blocks of life itself. There are 20 which are crucial to human heath, relating to growth, repair, and maintenance of body tissues. Nine of these amino acids are considered essential and required through proper nutrition, which will enable the body to produce the required protein. These are: leucine, isoleucine, valine, lysine, threonine, tryptophan, methionine, phenylalanine and histidine. The eleven non-essential amino acids are arginine, alanine, asparagine, aspartic acid, cysteine, glutamine, glutamic acid, glycine, proline, serine, and tyrosine.
Many non-essential amino acids may not be required for protein building, but through much research it has been discovered that they are instrumental in healing and relieving symptoms of many conditions, thus used therapeutically. Many with chronic health conditions often have deficiencies of both essential & non-essential amino acids. Conditions and symptoms such as, Allergies, Ulcers, Anemia, Osteoarthritis, Autoimmune Arthritis such as Rhumatoid Arthritis & AS, lupus, cerebral palsy, certain cancers, depression, cognitive issues, insomnia, anxiety, panic attacks, associated with CFIDS (chronic fatigue and immune dysfunction syndrome), musculoskeletal pain and discomfort associated with Fibromyalgia, Ankylosing Spondylitis, IBD, ADD (attention deficit disorder) & ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), as well as others. Amino acids work synergistically with many drugs and treatments, so interactions are not ordinarily a concern, but if you have decided to supplement with amino acids, your doctor should be informed. A few Therapeutic aminos are L-histidine, L-Carnitine, L-Taurine & L-Tyrosine. L-Trosine is often low in individuals battling depression, as well as those suffering with kidney disease. L-Theanin is found in green tea and is said to help relieve the symptoms of stress and anxiety, while enhancing focus and concentration. Which is perfect for those who are cognitively challenged, as with ADD & ADHD, Chronic Fatigue & Fibromyaglia.
Nine of the essential amino acids can be found in protein rich foods such as red meat, poultry, seafood and dairy products. Plant foods, such as vegetables, fruits and grains, will only provide some of the nine essential amino acids. For this reason, a vegetarian diet should be balanced to ensure that amino acids are derived from all parts of the diet. Vegetable sources of protein such as nuts, beans, and grains are incredibly healthy, because they not only provide amino acids, but additional nutrients such as fiber, vitamins A and C.
If you are able to eat and digest protein rich foods such as meat, poultry, seafood & dairy products then you are more than likely getting your required amounts of amino acids. However keep in mind that many chronic health conditions can prevent absorption of many vitamins, minerals and amino acids through food intake, so supplementing might be required. Since our protein requirements are actually lower than most people consume, below are many fruit & vegetables sources of amino acids which you can easily add to your existing diet:
PLEASE NOTE: This is not a low-starch or low-carb food friendly list, rather its to provide overall information on foods which are high in amino acids.
Alanine – Main source being alfalfa, but also found in: celery, carrot, lettuce, cucumber, turnips, green pepper, spinach, plums, apples, guavas, grapes, oranges, almonds and strawberries.
Arginine – alfalfa, carrots, green leafy vegetables, beetroots, cucumber, celery, lettuce, radishes and potatoes.
Aspartic acid – carrots, celery, radishes, cucumber, mint, tomatoes, turnips, lemons, grapefruit, apples, plums, pineapples, melons and almonds.
Cystine – alfalfa, beet roots, carrots, cabbages, cauliflower, onions, garlic, apples, pineapples, raspberries, raisins.
Glutamic acid – found in carrots, turnips, cabbages, celery, beetroots, mint, lettuce, spinach and papaya.
Glycine – carrots, turnips, celery, mint, alfalfa, spinach, garlic, potatoes, figs, oranges, raspberries, pomegranates, melons and almonds.
Histidine – radishes, carrots, cucumber, beetroots, celery, garlic, onions, turnips, alfalfa, spinach, pineapples, apples, pomegranates and papaya.
Hydroxy glutamic acid – carrots, mint, lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, grapes, raspberries, plums.
Hydroxy praline – carrots, lettuce, beetroots, turnips, cucumber, plums, cherries, figs, radishes, grapes, olives, pineapples, almonds and coconut.
Lodogorgoic acid – carrots, celery, spinach, tomatoes, lettuce and pineapple.
Isoleucine – papaya, olives, coconuts, almonds, apricots, pistachios and walnuts.
Leucine – coconuts, almonds, apricots, papaya, olives, pistachios and walnuts.
Lysine – carrots, cucumber, beetroots, mint, celery, spinach, turnips, alfalfa, germinates soyabeans, plums, pears, papaya, apple and grapes.
Methionine – cabbages, garlic, cauliflower, pineapples and apples.
Norleucine ( NLE a form of lucine)
Phenylalanine – carrots, beetroots, spinach, mint, tomatoes, pineapples and apples.
Proline –carrots, beetroots, lettuce, turnips, cucumber, plums, cherries, figs, grapes, olive, oranges, pineapples, coconuts and almonds.
Serine –radishes, garlic, onion, carrots, beetroots, celery, cucumber, mint, spinach, cabbage, alfalfa, papaya, apples and pineapples.
Threonine – carrots, green leafy vegetables, alfalfa and papaya.
Thyroxine – carrots, celery, lettuce, turnips, spinach, tomatoes and pineapples.
Tryptophane – beetroots, carrots, celery, spinach, alfalfa and turnips.
Tyrosine – alfalfa, carrots, beetroots, cucumber, lettuce, mint, spinach, green pepper, plums, strawberries, cherries, apples, melons, figs and almonds.
Valine – carrots, turnips, sweet gourd, celery, mint, beetroots, tomatoes, apples, pomegranates and almonds.
When supplementing look for free form amino acids and you’ll want products with a full amino acid profile, many will read “amino acid complex.” such as with protein powders or protein drinks. Amino acids work synergistically with vitamins and minerals, thus working naturally with our bodies. Though it is preferred that we obtain vitamins, minerals, as well as amino acids through our diet, when we are chronically sick or have malabsorption issues such as those related to chronic inflammation & IBD, supplementing just might be required. Be careful of taking excessive amounts of amino acids and be sure to follow label instructions.
Food based Amino Acid Supplements: Braggs Liquid Aminos NON-GMO soy (contains 16 amino acids/8 essential.) This product is great to use in place of regular and potentially GMO contaminated soy sauce. Should not be cooked or heated.
Coconut Aminos by Coconut Secrets contains 17 naturally occurring amino acids. Nutrient-dense, certified organic, dairy free, gluten-free, soy-free and raw-vegan friendly.
By ensuring that you are eating foods that are high in amino acids, or that you are supplementing via a well balanced protein powder or free form amino acids, you are improving your chances for optimal health, greater energy, strength, recovery, improved muscle definition, beautiful skin, better mood, better memory and enhanced brain function. Incredibly beneficial in combating fibrofog, pain and stiffness relating to Ankylosing Spondylitis and the multitude of symptoms associated with Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome, including depression.
Amino Acids, Angelo P John research based on amino acid cancer therapy, amino acid, amino food guide courtesy of Naturopathy for Perfect Health. The Healing Power of Organic, Real Food, Superfoods & Whole Foods, Nutritional, Gluten-Free, Diary-Free, Low-Starch & Inflammation Friendly Recipes
Since I’ve lived with the physical symptoms of Invisible Illness for many years, 2012 is really about coping emotionally and mentally with the idea of living with more than one.
I was devastated upon discovering that I have a chronic pain condition known as Fibromyalgia, along with Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome (CFIDS). In addition to overwhelming anger, frustration and a sense of loss. Realizing that it was now highly unlikely that I would return to being my old self again. The person who was healthy, vibrant, full of life, strong and athletic. I think that most people would be thrilled to finally have a name for conditions that plagued them for many years, but for me I have been there and done that. Nearly 8 years ago, I was ecstatic to discover the name for the chronic inflammatory condition which had plagued me since childhood, Ankylosing Spondylylitis. I felt relieved to finally know and to have a course of treatment. However that excitement was short-lived, because I had no way of knowing that a long time acquaintance, but newly found friends Fibro & CFIDS would sneak in to steal my joy.
The Fibro & CFIDS diagnoses did not yield the same excitement, because I’d been waiting out what I thought was a long bout with active AS, hoping that it would go back into remission as it had in previous years and I would quickly return to being my old self. Its quite interesting what keeps you going and when you no longer have that small bit of hope to hold on to, it can be quite devastating. Awareness is crucial, because upon realizing that the many symptoms, even things that I didn’t realize were symptoms, that I”d lived with for as long as I can remember were not in fact normal, I could easily trace fibro & CFIDS back to my teens. Only a few short years after my first AS flare. However, as with my AS the Fibro & CFIDS symptoms had gone into remission several times.
Denial has no place in chronic illness, as I recall a conversation with my Rheumatologist several years ago. It was exactly 1 year after being officially diagnosed with AS, discovering NSAIDs, exercising several days a week, eating well and being in a very good place both mentally & physically. I was unfortunately in a terrible car accident, which totaled my car leaving me with a concussion, severe case of sacroiliitis, an arm that I could barely use and severe, chronic hip, neck & back pain. A car accident is your worst fear as an AS patient, because of the risk of exacerbating your AS symptoms. Shortly after the car accident, I lived with chronic musculoskeletal pain that NSAIDs were no longer helping, along with severe fatigue and stomach upset (IBS), my Rheumy told me that it sounded as if I might be developing Fibromyalgia. However, I had no knowledge of Fibro at the time, so I could not agree or disagree, on weather or not I felt that my symptoms were a match. I was also in a bit of denial and did not want to take on managing another chronic illness. My Rheumy further stated that it was not uncommon for AS patients to go on to develop Fibro and especially after experiencing trauma, such as my recent car accident, and this was more than likely a conversation that we would continue during future visits. Unfortunately, my Rheumy passed away, so there were no future conversations. If only I’d been aware that the multitude of symptoms that I’d lived with for many years, were related to one another and related to both Fibro & CFIDS I would have had my answers much sooner.
Honing in on my chronic and incredibly debilitating fatigue is what finally began to give me answers. I’d also been coping with being cognitively challenged for many years, long before the car accident, but during the last 9 years many of my symptoms were getting worse. Old symptoms were returning like migraines and tension headaches, while others symptoms were bringing no relief, such as the severe neck and back pain, muscle spasms, food intolerance & chronic pain in other areas of my body. It was only very recently that I myself began to connect the dots. After much research, I could see that they were many overlapping symptoms, AS overlapped with Fibro, Fibro overlapped with CFIDS and so on. I could also see that I had symptoms relating to hypothyroidism, due to unexplained weight gain, cold intolerance, dizziness, fatigue, etc and due to the progression of what I now know to be Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome, I also discovered that I had IBS which was aggravated by diet, food intolerance and stress. My monthly cycles were also unbearable (since my teens), while many symptoms of both Fibro & CFIDS were in full effect. (the entire list below)
I’ve always been a very private person, even refraining from sharing some of my symptoms with my doctors and honestly I never thought tell my Rheumy that I had insomnia, cognitive dysfunction, anxiety & stress, nor did he ever ask. I’ve only recently begin speaking publicly regarding my health issues and many who’ve known me for years, were very surprised that I had a condition and others who I’d confided in were surprised that I began to share. I found that writing about having Ankylosing Spondylitis proved to be incredibly therapeutic. Once I began sharing my AS symptoms publicly, I began to realize that many of my symptoms where not AS related at all. Though a few AS symptoms do indeed overlap with Fibromyalgia & CFIDS , these are ugly chronic conditions all their own. It took many years to arrive here, discovering that CFIDS needed to be addressed by an Internal Medicine Physician, while Fibro needed a diagnoses from not just any Rhumatologist, but one very knowledgeable about and experienced with Fibromyalgia. It also helped that I could clearly articulate my symptoms, while understanding how they overlap and how they differ:
My Symptoms of Fibromyalgia :
Profound, Chronic & Widespread Pain
Stabbing/Shoot Pain/Deep Muscular Aching, Muscle Spasms, Throbbing & Twitching
(Nerological) Numbness, Tingling & Burning
Symptoms Aggravated by Cold/Humid Weather
Physical & Mental fatigue following excessive physical activity/Physical inactivity
Reduced tolerance to exercise & Muscle pain after exercise
Fatigue, profound exhaustion & poor stamina
Sleep disturbance/ Stage 4 deep sleep/interrupted by bursts of awake-like brain activity
Fibromyalgia & CFIDS/CFS Overlapping Symptoms::
Migraines & tension headaches
Vision Problems/Visual blurring
(Parasthesias) Numbness & Tingling face, arms, hands, legs and feet
Not feeling rested upon waking
IBS (abdominal pain, gas, bloating, nausea, constipation/diarrhea)
(Nocturia) Bladder disturbance (overactive/irritable)
Cognitive dysfunction Impaired Memory & Concentration (Brain-Fog *Fibro Fog)
Ringing in the ears (Tinnitus)
Worsening of symptoms due to extremes in temperature
Restless Leg Syndrome/Leg Cramps
My Symptoms of Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome CFS/CFIDS/ME:
Relapsing & Debilitating Chronic Fatigue
Extremely painful menstrual cramps
Allergies & Sensitivities to chemicals & medications
Sensitivity/Intolerance to: noise/sound, odors, bright lights, foods & cold
Multiple sensitivities to medicines, foods, and chemicals
Tender lymph nodes in the neck & underarm area
Dyspnea (labored breathing or hunger for air) on exertion
Frequent Flu like symptoms
Chest pain, Nausea & Cough
Frequent sore throats
Frequent canker sores
Low body temperature
Tachycardia/Palpitations (rapid heart beat)
Personality changes & mood swings
Swelling or the feeling of swelling in hands & feet
Tightness & weakness in the limbs
Muscle & Joint Pain without redness or swelling
Fibromyalgia, CFIDS/CFS & Ankylosing Spondylitis Overlapping Symptoms:
Glute, Neck & Back pain
My Symptoms of Ankylosing Spondylitis :
Muscle & Joint Pain
Pain & Stiffness of spine & joints
Chronic Inflammation, neck, back, knees, ankles, heels, hips & chest wall
Potentially HLA-B27 Related IBS
Other Related/Unrelated Conditions that I have:
Hypermobility syndrome (potentially unrelated but suspected to be linked to AS)
When thinking back on when I discovered that I had AS, the feeling was similar to a long walk in an open plain, with daisies, great music, skipping and fun dancing. When discovering that I had Fibromyalgia it was more like those scenes in the movies where the main character is walking around, interacting with the world around him, only to discover at the end of the movie that he’s really dead. What’s worse is that he appears to be the only one who didn’t know. I’ve obviously seen far too many of these movies, because this is what continually flashed repeatedly through my mind, Bruce Willis in “The Sixth Sense,” Anne Hathaway in “Passengers” and Nicole Kidman in “The Others.” As all of the clues relating to their demise, which we of course miss throughout the movie, now flash through their minds and on the screen. This is precisely how I felt, I missed the clues about having Fibromyalgia & CFIDS and there were many, but at least now I know and I can continue to move forward. I will however mourn the loss of my former self, while also mourning the loss of my Rheumatologist. As it is difficult traveling my Fibro & CFIDS journey without him, my doc and my friend. It’s also difficult to imagine my life without the old me. This is solely a mental adjustment, because I have not been my old physical self in quite sometime, but in 2012 I will gladly step up to the challenge of reinventing myself. I am an eternal optimist, I will inevitably make lemonade out of this proverbial Fibro & CFIDS lemon and I will continue to advocate & share my natural, holistic and healthy approach to living with Fibro & CFIDS and subsequent progress as I do with my AS. Through my own very unique journey, I’ve learned that having an invisible chronic illness, or two or three, though incredibly challenging is not at all a death sentence, but another way of living life. Here’s to an amazing 2012, where we will continue living “Chronically Happy, Healthy, Fit & Fab” while coping with Ankylosing Spondylitis, Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome CFIDS.