Beef, chicken, fish may help treat stomach ulcers

May 16th, 2009 - 3:51 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, May 16 (ANI): Beef, chicken, fish, eggs, dairy products and some fruits and vegetables could help keep stomach ulcers at bay, says a new study.

Bacteria known as Helicobacter pylori are known to cause such ulcers, and thus antibiotics are used a primary therapy for such infection. But today the bacteria are growing increasingly resistant to antibiotics.

And now, the study by scientists at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has shown that the amino acid glutamine, found in many foods as well as in dietary supplements, may prove beneficial in offsetting gastric damage caused by H. pylori infection.

The findings offer the possibility of an alternative to antibiotics for the treatment of stomach ulcers.

“Our findings suggest that extra glutamine in the diet could protect against gastric damage caused by H. pylori. Gastric damage develops when the bacteria weakens the stomach’s protective mucous coating, damages cells and elicits a robust immune response that is ineffective at ridding the infection,” says senior author Dr. Susan Hagen, Associate Director of Research.

She noted that eventually, years of infection result in a combination of persistent gastritis, cell damage and an environment conducive to cancer development.

Glutamine is a nonessential amino acid naturally found in certain foods, including beef, chicken, fish, eggs, dairy products and some fruits and vegetables. L-glutamine - the biologically active isomer of glutamine - is widely used as a dietary supplement by body builders to increase muscle mass.

In earlier studies, researchers had shown that glutamine protects against cell death from H. pylori-produced ammonia.

“Our work demonstrated that the damaging effects of ammonia on gastric cells could be reversed completely by the administration of L-glutamine. The amino acid stimulated ammonia detoxification in the stomach - as it does in the liver - so that the effective concentration of ammonia was reduced, thereby blocking cell damage,” explained Hagen.

Thus, they hypothesized that a similar mechanism might be at work in the intact stomach infected with H. pylori.

After testing the hypothesis on mice, researchers found that at six-weeks-post infection, the animals exhibited increased expression of three cytokines - interleukin 4, interleukin 10 and transforming growth factor-alpha mRNA.

“These all play an important role in the stomach’s ability to protect against damaging effects resulting from other responses to H. pylori infection,” explained Hagen.

The study results showed that in 20 weeks, H. pylori-infected mice, that were fed the L-glutamine diet exhibited lower levels of inflammation than did the mice that received the standard control diet.

“Because many of the stomach pathologies during H. pylori infection [including cancer progression] are linked to high levels of inflammation, this result provides us with preliminary evidence that glutamine supplementation may be an alternative therapy for reducing the severity of infection,” explained Hagen.

She added that studies in human subjects would be the next step to determine the relevance of this finding in the clinical setting.

The study was published in the latest issue of the Journal of Nutrition. (ANI)

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