Amino acids lower infection rate in the elderly

immunity

Hospitalized patients often have a high rate of infections, but supplementation of essential amino acids can lower that rate substantially.

Effects of oral amino acid supplementation on long-term-care-acquired infections in elderly patients. The abstract of this paper states:

The very high general infection rate (IRI) observed in our Geriatric Intensive Rehabilitation Center led us to investigate whether patient supplementation with essential amino acids (EAAs), modulators of immuno-competence, could reduce IRI. Eighty elderly patients admitted to our GIRC (n=40; age 79.5 ± 7.71; male/female 14/26) or placebo (n=40; age 82.13 ± 6.15; male/female 13/27) were allocated to an 8 g/day oral EAAs group and were surveyed for infections (>48 h from admission) over the first month of their hospital stay. The IRI was 67% for the entire population of patients, 82.5% in the placebo group and 52% in the EAA group (p<0.02). When patients were divided into infection group (IG) and without-infection group (WIG), independently of post randomization allocation, the WIG had higher levels of serum albumin, blood hemoglobin (Hb) concentration, dietary protein  calorie intakes but lower serum C-reactive protein (CRP). The factor of CRP>0.8 mg/dl and Hb ≤ 12 in females, ≤13 in males was associated 4 times and 3.6 times risk of infection, respectively, by sex. EAAs supplementation may lower the risk of infection by 30% in the rehabilitative elderly population. CRP and blood hemoglobin levels can be considered risk markers of future infection.

So, if you were an elderly person stuck in intensive rehabilitation, you would have over an 80% chance of acquiring an infection, but only 50% if you got a mere 8 grams a day of essential amino acids.

Essential amino acids are very important for proper immune function.

Essential amino acids are the constituents of protein that cannot be made inside the human body and must be ingested in the diet. The type of protein that has the highest concentration of essential amino acids (EAA) is whey, which is about 50% EAA. Therefore, a smallish, 20 gram whey shake would give you, or your elderly loved one in the hospital, 10 grams of EAA, which is 25% more than the amount that lowered the infection rate in this hospital. Given the low quality of hospital food as well as the fact that hospitalized patients often don’t eat enough, I would bet that giving more than 8 grams a day EAA would lower the infection rate even more.

Whey protein has lots of other benefits for the elderly, like increasing lean body mass. Most of the elderly would likely benefit by taking whey protein daily.

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8 comments
Pieter says May 8, 2015

The last time my grandfather was in the hospital I remember the food was a disgrace. The portion was small and the the size of the meat/fish was even smaller! At the time I thought the doctors knew what they were doing.

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    P. D. Mangan says May 8, 2015

    Agree on all counts.

    Reply
Graham says May 12, 2015

Hey Mangan,

Obviously you are not a doctor but I was curious as if you have any knowledge about Crohn’s disease? A friend of mine (24 years old) has just been diagnosed. I have read that it is linked to inflamation and was thinking about recommending a ketogenic diet to him. I have also heard that it is important to maximise vitamin D intake so I will be recommending the same vitamin D3 supplement that I take.

This blog has helped me a lot just wanted to know whether you had any insight in this particular instance

Thanks.

Reply
    P. D. Mangan says May 12, 2015

    I’m afraid I don’t know a lot about Crohn’s but it is linked to inflammation and leaky gut. For instance, Anti-tumor necrosis factor treatment restores the gut barrier in Crohn’s disease. Therefore reducing inflammation and leaky gut maybe of help. Zinc, NAC, and omega-3 may all be of use there.

    Reply
      Graham says May 12, 2015

      Thanks for the reply. I’ll have a look at the link you provided.

      Reply
        P. D. Mangan says May 12, 2015

        Graham, you’re welcome. I should have added that diet can be very important. Whether ketogenic specifically as you mentioned I’m not sure, but if I had the illness, I would certainly go paleo, no wheat or other grains, no vegetable oils, or legumes. Possibly even avoiding dairy might be helpful. Coconut oil is also very beneficial for the gut, so I would use that liberally.

        Reply
          Graham says May 12, 2015

          Perfect Health Diet kind of thing? Just without the dairy? Appreciate you answering an off topic question.
          I’ve linked him to this page as well so he can see what you think.

          Reply
Tuba says November 23, 2015

In 1972 my father was badly burned in an industrial accident. He had third degree burns over 55% of his body, second degree over nearly the rest. Only 5% of him was not burned, basically under his leather belt, a large leather watch band, behind safety glasses and the front of his shins. He was 52 at the time and was not expected to survive. In fact they asked him if he wanted to die or to give living a try. Though long ago I remember three things well: His reverse isolation, he was constantly wet from soaking in I believe silver nitrate, and he was constantly fed whey shakes. He lived to 86… though he did look like a badly put together quilt.

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