BCAA branched chain amino acids: let's debunk the myths
In recent years, the food supplements it has been the protagonist of a considerable increase in demand, also driven by the growing interest of individuals towards a healthier and less sedentary lifestyle.
On the other hand, the increase in popularity of these products has generated an increase in related searches on the web search engines and, at the same time, an increase in fake or at least partial news on the subject. It is, in fact, enough to do some short research on the internet to come across numerous articles that deal with supplements, which, of course, say everything and the opposite of everything.
One of the most controversial products in this sense are certainly the branched chain amino acid supplements (BCAAs) and this is precisely the subject of this article: branched chain amino acids BCAAs are bad to the liver. Branched chain amino acid supplements weaken the heart and cause kidney damage. These are just a few of the most common beliefs regarding branched chain amino acids. But what's true? Let's shed some light on the subject.
BCAA branched chain amino acids
Before analyzing in detail the most common beliefs, let's briefly introduce the subject of this discussion: what are i BCAA ?
The branched chain amino acids are a particular group of essential amino acids composed of leucine, isoleucine and valine. THE BCAA they are distinguished from other amino acids by their particular shape (branched precisely) and possess peculiar characteristics that make them among the most important components of proteins. Some of these characteristics will be explained later, when necessary, while for all other information regarding the BCAA we refer to this article.
Let's now check out some of the contraindications most common ones that can be found online about branched chain amino acids.
Branched chain amino acids contraindications: the liver
One of contraindications of which we read more frequently on the net concerns the alleged side effects of branched chain amino acids on the liver. Nothing more false! In fact, if the substances introduced into the body are usually processed in the liver, the branched chain amino acids follow a different path. They are transported by the bloodstream directly into the muscles where they perform an anti-catabolic function and stimulate protein synthesis.
It is therefore evident that i BCCA they do not present a risk for the liver, on the contrary, branched-chain amino acids are often used for the treatment of liver diseases such as cirrhosis and hepatic encephalopathy, thanks to the beneficial effects mentioned above.
Branched chain amino acids contraindications: the heart
Another hotly debated issue is that of side effects of branched chain amino acids for the heart, and, even in this case, it is necessary to disprove this assumption.
Branched chain amino acids are necessary for the proper functioning of muscle tissues and the heart, as muscle, is no exception. As for the previous example, not only i BCAA they do not appear to be harmful to the heart but, on the contrary, they can provide an effect for the prevention and treatment of heart problems, ischemias and heart attacks.
Branched chain amino acids contraindications: the kidneys
A final myth to dispel is the belief that branched chain amino acids BCAA damage the kidneys. This is perhaps the most widespread belief, also due to the lack of truly complete scientific studies on it. Nonetheless, there are several studies involving effects of amino acids on the kidneys from which some data interesting objects emerge.
First, it was not possible to demonstrate a correlation between amino acid intake and kidney problems. What has been shown, however, is that "protein-induced changes in kidney function are an adaptive mechanism that falls largely within the functional limits of a healthy liver." (you can consult the reference article here) In other words, renal activity is actually changed by taking BCAA, but this is a natural physiological process that does not "strain" the kidneys.
In some cases, moreover, I. BCAA they have been administered to patients with chronic renal failure (CRI) in order to reduce their catabolism.
Branched chain amino acids: precautions
From what has been said so far, therefore, the groundlessness of the harmfulness of the BCAA and the dangers involved in taking them. We can therefore state that branched chain amino acids are not bad.
But be careful, this does not mean that the branched chain amino acids BCAA they can be taken in indeterminate quantities and above all lightly. After debunking the false contraindications of BCAA branched chain amino acids, it is right to provide some warnings and precautions for a conscious use of BCAA supplements.
A first necessary clarification: everything that has been written so far assumes that the individual is in good health. With this in mind, we can reformulate the previous statement as follows:
branched chain amino acids are not harmful when taken by healthy individuals. On the contrary, a healthy organism needs BCAA (as it is not able to produce them independently, as explained here), especially if often subjected to long and prolonged efforts.
A second clarification concerns the dosage. The BCAA branched chain amino acid supplements, if taken in excessive doses, may involve anythe side effects such as headache, fatigue, hypertension, gastrointestinal disturbances and mood swings. Before taking BCAAs we recommend that you consult a doctor, especially if you are inexperienced.
Branched amino acids contraindications: the real ones
In addition to the indications above, the intake of branched chain amino acids is contraindicated for individuals subject to some specific conditions. Here is an excerpt from this article in which these conditions are described in detail:
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS): rare neurodegenerative disease that causes the loss of motor neurons that control movements and which leads in a short time to paralysis of voluntary muscles, including respiratory ones. Life expectancy is very short. Patients with ALS have high levels of BCAAs in their blood therefore, taking branched chain amino acid supplements would be deleterious. ALS is known to most as the disease of professional footballers (for example Stefano Borgonovo). The causes of ALS are currently unknown as it is a multifactorial disease that does not only affect sportsmen. For a healthy athletic preparation and for your own health it is advisable to always be supported and advised by doctors and professionals and to use quality products.
Seizure Disorders: Taking BCAA supplements or a high-protein diet could increase the frequency of events in those suffering from seizures.
- Maple Syrup Urine Disease: Also known as branched-chain ketoaciduria is a genetic metabolic disorder caused by the deficiency of an enzyme that processes BCAAs. Patients have high levels of BCAAs in their blood and urine, which smell and color resemble that of maple syrup.
- Scheduled Surgery: Since BCAAs affect circulating glucose levels, it is advisable to stop taking supplements two weeks before surgery for proper glucose monitoring during and after surgery.
- Chronic alcoholism: although BCAAs have a positive effect in liver diseases, they are to be avoided in alcoholics as they increase the likelihood of complications.
- Pregnancy and breastfeeding: as there is not yet sufficient evidence on the safety of BCAAs in these stages of life, their intake is not recommended, even in women who play sports during pregnancy.