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How your genetics and microbiome play a role in ammonia metabolism

Ammonia metabolism
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(NaturalNews) When the body metabolizes sulfur compounds it produces ammonia as a byproduct. Ammonia is toxic to the body but most individuals are able to easily excrete it through the kidneys and urinary system. Unfortunately, some individuals have particular genetic mutations and microbiome alterations that do not allow them to effectively metabolize and eliminate ammonia.

Ammonia is a normal product of protein metabolism in the body is generally excreted through our urine. However, when we are unable to effectively excrete it, major health problems ensue. Higher levels of ammonia are produced during times of stress as the body uses amino acids and breaks them down into glucose through a process called gluconeogenesis. Higher amounts of stress will lead to elevations in ammonia.

The gut microbiome and ammonia production:

The gut microbiome (full collection of microorganisms) metabolizes the amino acids into nitrogen compounds, which are used to repair cells. Some of the species present in our microbiome also produce ammonia when they break down amino acids. Some individuals have alterations in their gut microbiome to where ammonia producing bacteria are overpopulated.

Our microbiome produces almost 4 grams of ammonia each day in our intestines. This ammonia is taken to the liver and is turned into urea where it is excreted in the urine. When the body is producing excessive ammonia and/or when it is not filtering and excreting enough ammonia we can end up with very serious problems.

The dangers of elevated ammonia:

Elevated ammonia levels reduce the production of cellular ATP which is key for energy production. This is why individuals with elevated ammonia experience fatigue, muscle weakness, nausea, vomiting, headaches, diarrhea, back pain and accelerated aging.
Ammonia is also extremely damaging to the brain and can lead to mood disturbances, insomnia, loss of coordination and dexterity, clumsiness, confusion and inability to concentrate.

Addressing the CBS gene mutation:

The cystathione beta synthase (CBS) enzyme helps make the conversion of homocysteine to cystathionine as part of the transsulfuration pathway (1). Defects in this enzyme are most often upregulations that cause the enzyme to work too fast.

Individuals with a CBS mutation often have high levels of taurine and ammonia and low cystathione and homocysteine (2,3). This is due to the rapid conversion and if this is coupled with NOS (nitric oxide synthetase) mutations it can exacerbate ammonia issues. High ammonia is extremely toxic and inflammatory to the body.

Dietary Restrictions to Stabilize CBS

These individuals must be on a low protein diet where protein makes up about 10% of total caloric intake. For these individuals, I typically recommend a nutrition plan consisting of 80% fat, 10% carbohydrate and 10% protein.

Sulfur containing foods are extremely healthy for most individuals but not for those with major CBS mutation problems. These individuals must limit sulfur intake by removing garlic, onions, cruciferous veggies, eggs, legumes, all protein-rich dairy. They also must avoid normally great supplements like alpha lipoic acid, glutathione, MSM, DMSO and N-Acetyl Cysteine.

Detoxification strategies such as heavy metal chelators and epsom salt baths should be avoided as well. Other supplements to avoid will be L-methionine, L-cysteine, L-taurine, glucosamine, L-glycine, DMSO, SAMe, methylcobalamine, methyl-folate, Betaine, HCL and choline.

It is also extremely important to have good drinking water filtration and shower filtration to avoid ammonia that may be in typical city municipalities. A reverse osmosis filter will take the ammonia out of the water and you can add back trace minerals with a pinch of pink salt.


1) http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/gene/CBS

2) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=cbs+polymorphism+ammonia

3) http://resqua.com/702188759/what-does-a-cbs-gene-mutation-mean

About the author:
Dr David Jockers is a Maximized Living doctor and owns and operates Exodus Health Center in Kennesaw, Georgia where he specializes in functional nutrition, functional medicine and corrective chiropractic care to get to the underlying cause of major health problems.

His website features great articles on natural health and incredible recipes. He is the author of the best-selling book SuperCharge Your Brain - the complete guide to radically improve your mood, memory and mindset. He has over 50,000 active followers on his social media and email newsletter and is a big influencer in the Primal Health movement.

Dr. Jockers is also available for long distance consultations and health coaching to help you beat disease and reach your health goals. For more information got to www.drjockers.com

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