(NaturalNews) Researchers from the University of Alberta (UA) have made an interesting discovery about the way the body fights and prevents infections. Richard Lamb and post doctoral fellow Virginie Mieulet, found that L-arginine, an amino acid present in protein-rich foods, is necessary for the immune system to properly detect and eliminate invading bacteria.
Published in the journal Science Signalling, the discovery has massive implications in understanding the role of proper nutrition -- particularly essential and non-essential amino acids -- in maintaining good health and preventing disease.
A healthy body is full of macrophage white blood cells that seek out infections and destroy them. Prior research has established that L-arginine plays an important role in the function of macrophages, but the new study has expanded upon that to reveal that L-arginine also acts as a watchdog for invaders, signaling to the rest of the body to "rally up the troops", so to speak.
The team also discovered that, even in the absence of proper nutrition, L-arginine still helps the body to fight infections. So in third-world countries where malnutrition is widespread, L-arginine could have a significantly positive effect on overall health.
"This is a major work," explained Lamb in a press release about the report. "[I]t shows that one aspect of nutrition that is critical is the level of amino acids (people consume)."
L-arginine, in conjunction with many other amino acids, serves other important functions as well.
"Special amino acids of specific interest in regard to growth and development, metabolism, and protection from environmental chemicals as well as a variety of diseases...include arginine. Arginine plays an important role in wound healing, detoxification reactions, immune functions, and promoting the secretion of several hormones, including insulin and growth hormone," explain Michael Murray, N.D., and Joseph Pizzorno, N.D., in their book The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods.