How nutrients interact with each other and you

Nutrient-Nutrient interactions, making nutrition complicated and exciting since before you were born

One of the main complications in looking at Pubmed, seeing the results, and trying to apply them to yourself would be (in my opinion) consideration for the manner in which the nutrient is ingested. Some complications that could arise are:

  • Misinterpreting how the nutrient is given. Results obtained from intravenous (IM) or intramuscular (IM) injections can sometimes correlate into results obtained from orally ingested nutrients, but not always.
  • Misinterpreting the state of the subjects body in the study versus your own, as the state the nutrient is arriving into does determine its effects. Most studies are done in a fasted state, and results in a fed state may not be the same. Some studies are also done on ‘healthy’ subjects, and results may not be applicable to somebody with Crohn’s Disease.
  • Coingestion of nutrients. Sometimes coingestion of nutrients drastically increases efficacy of a compound (in the case of piperine or bergamottin), inhibits uptake (enzyme inhibitors, insoluble fiber and fatty substrate) or even modifies the structure of one compound.

Specific nutrient-nutrient interactions do not follow an overarching rule or paradigm (and those rules that do apply would not help simplify comprehension), so it is quite literally a game of memorization for many of these compounds.

However, between the point of ingestion (orally) and the point of action (cellular) compounds pass through many different body systems, each regulated by specific compounds and rules and is home to a certain ‘environment’. Rough rules can be applied to these body systems to aid in comprehension of how nutrients ‘work’ in the body.

There are five environments of concern:

  1. Prior to ingestion of the compound
  2. The alimentary canal (mouth, stomach, intestine)
  3. Being taken up into and excreted from the liver
  4. Being transported in the blood
  5. Inside the cell

Some compounds that act on the intestine or stomach stop at step 2, and some compounds that act on the liver don’t need to do step 4 to proceed to step 5. Even then, there are some exceptions to the above rules (aspirin and alcohol can be absorbed through the stomach wall, any compound ingested via the skin goes straight to step 4, etc) but the above 5 (to be eludicated) are a good paradigm to work from.

Prior to eating

Prior to eating the food, it is exposed to the external environment. The external environment is normally not potent enough to induce drastic changes, but they do occur. The two main changes to note are oxidation from air and changes from cooking and preparation.

By definition an anti-oxidant is a compound that protects against oxidation. Foods naturally have antioxidants not to protect you (who is effectively killing them by eating said food), but they make these antioxidants in order to protect themselves from the environment. Us humans can just steal many of them upon ingestion.

With prolonged exposure to oxidants (naturally floating in the air, see: oxygen) the antioxidant content of foods and supplements decreases over time as they are used up in defense of the food.

Oxidation can also damage certain foodstuffs that are susceptible to damage from oxidants, as is the case with fish oil. Damage to the molecular structure can change the effects of fish oil completely, turning beneficial EPA and DHA into harmful lipid peroxides. This is the main reason why you refrigerate fish oil, and why most fish oil bought in this day and age is laced with Vitamin E (an antioxidant that specializes in neutralizing lipid peroxides).

So basically, adhere to the directions to ‘store in a cool, dry place’, to ‘keep away from light’ (as some compounds such as Riboflavin are changed by ultraviolet radiation) or to ‘refrigerate after opening’ as they do serve a purpose.

As for cooking, some compounds are degraded in acid or alkaline mediums which can be introduced via cooking mediums (tomato or lemon sauces). Heat may also destroy some beneficial compounds or damage them.

However, cooking can also increase the bioavailability of some compounds as well.

Cooking interactions have to be approached on an individual basis due to the wide range of possible interactions that could occur. The only general rule of thumb would be not to overcook things into oblivion and, even in the cases of increased bioavailability, there is a certain threshold of heat exposure which just starts to destroy everything.

In the alimentary canal

No really significant changes go on in the mouth. Enzymes are secreted to aid in carbohydrate digestion and some compounds could be absorbed buccally, but otherwise nothing major.

The stomach is an acid bath essentially, it’s purpose is to mainly attack the food with acid while whipping it back and forth until it is made into a little processed chyme ball and ready to go on into the intestines. The mechanical processing of the stomach (whipping the food around) is not strong enough to degrade any nutrients, but the acid bath is.

The stomach is the first tier enzyme and digestion center, and degrades large protein structures into smaller peptide chains. If one ingests protein compounds (such as growth hormone or insulin) orally they typically will not survive gastric digestion and will be rendered useless.

The intestines, conversely, are an alkaline soup. After acid pretreatment and passage into the first section of the intestines (the duodenum) the chyme ball is blasted with buffering solution to bring it’s pH back up to the normal range and then some. During this time, it is also blasted with the second round of digestive enzymes (mainly lipases, amylases, different sugar digesting ones, and shorter chain proteases)

In the intestine, the main areas where nutrients could be impaired are via inhibiting the enzymes that degrade compounds or by other compounds that block transports (the highways by which nutrients get to the liver). Ingesting compounds that block a specific transport (for example, green tea blocking the SLGT-1 glucose transport) will result in a degree of that compound not being able to get to the liver. Inhibiting enzymes (such as White kidney bean extract blocking amylase) will result in a food compound not being broken down and thus it will go, undigested, to the colon to be either fermented or pooped out.

Other things to note are less thought of and ‘brute’ interactions between nutrients. Rather than fancy biochemicular mechanics a compound (tannins) could literally just grab on to a compound (Iron) and get pooped out. There are also external stimuli which could affect this stage (being fearful slowing down absorption, consuming carbonation or intestinal irritants can cause the chyme to go through before most is digested, getting punching in the gut can make you vomit, etc.)

In the liver

The liver is the main partitioner¬† of nutrients in the body. It takes up most compounds from the gut, adheres many to transporters, and sends them on their way. It also protects the body from toxins by ‘tagging’ them with compounds which then signal the body to excrete them.

However, it is by this second mechanism that some compounds are falsely ‘tagged’ as toxins and excreted, or their new form does not exert the same benefits as their older form.

Examples of these compounds are Quercetin (the apple extract which everybody likes because something something mitochondria), Curcumin (turmeric extract) and EGCG (green tea extract). All three of these compounds are subject to a process in Phase II detoxification of the liver called ‘glucuronidation’, in which they are bound to glucuronic acid before being sent out into systemic circulation.

In regards to Quercetin, it seems to have amazing neurological potential in the form of Quercetin Aglycone (which is in many supplements). Sadly, the aglycone gets torn off in the intestine and Quercetin reaches the blood in glucuronide conjugates, mostly Quercetin-O-3-glucuronide. These glucuronides do not cross the blood brain barrier all that well, so there really is no hope in hell of replicating neurological _in vitro_ experiments with pills.

In regards to Green Tea, it seems to have ungodly fat burning potential when injected into rats (at least the EGCG component). However, a fair bit of the EGCG is wasted in the intestines blocking the SLGT-1 transport and other enzymes (molecules can’t be in two places at once) and a good bit is glucuronidated.

Finally, Curcumin has absolutely crappy luck with being glucuronidated. To make matters worse, it’s glucuronide conjugates (curcumin + glucuronic acid) do not have the same effects as curcumin and are pretty much inert. In vitro experiments show a ton of promise, in vivo do not because of this reaction. (Although pairing with Piperine will inhibit a good deal of glucuronidation of curcumin, and is a reason the pairing is vital)

The prior state of the liver as well (hypertrophied, fatty liver disease from fructose or alcohol, damage from toxins) also influences how it distributes and treats compounds, although no blanket statement can be made, so for people with this disease is better to get health services from the Inspire community online. Typically the liver is not too much of a concern in metabolization of compounds except under some notable instances (and in those cases, hepatic intervention is very potent)

In the endothelium (blood vessels)

One’s prior state of health (diabetic, hypertensive, etc.) can possibly influence how nutrients are ingested mainly through competition with other stuff floating around in your blood, so is important learn to control all the hormones in your body, for this, you could learn the 7k dhea uses and how this supplement improve the metabolism and make you feel healthier.

It is normally not a concern in healthy individuals with low levels of artherosclerotic build-up and low to normal blood pressure as the compounds can just avoid each other, but in metabolically compromised individuals there may very well be physical interactions with compounds in the blood. This is the case in the morbidly obese and leptin resistance, as leptin can screw up on a cellular level (leptin resistance), on a neurological level (lack of leptin feedback) and even transport from A to B by getting blocked by other compounds.

Having low levels of intrinsic anti-oxidant systems (which can piggyback on lipoproteins in the blood) can also complicate things as, without the anti-oxidant defense systems, lipoproteins and other compounds bound to protein transports (such as albumin) or non-protein transports can be oxidized in the blood and contribute to arthersclerotic buildup. They will be ‘cleaned up’ later by HDL, but since they never got to the cell they were rendered useless.

Endothelium transport deserves a mention, but typically isn’t a huge concern on a day-to-day basis. The vast majority of the downsides can be avoided by just being considered ‘healthy’.

In the cell

Deserves a mention, but no true blanket statement can really be applied. Compounds that pass the first 4 stages effectively can still have their final actions screwed up inside the cell. This is typically to most vast and confusing area to think about as the compounds of interest are no longer stuff you can see (liver, stomach) and are more abstract (cytoplasm, nuclear membrane).

Examples of stuff that could happen in a cell could be how fructose overfeeding can cause problems with insulin resistance by screwing around with post-receptor transcription, which chronically would cause problems with anything that acts on the insulin receptor. A more acute example is how creatine loading can be negated with high dose caffeine consumption (5mg/kg BW) via upregulation of AMPK (Off note, I wish bro-tards sourced their claims every now and then because sometimes they are actually talking about the correct things. I dismissed caffeine/creatine inhibition for a long time because nobody told me why. Turns out it’s true to a degree, in loading but not acute usage)

Like the liver, its good to be aware of how interactions here could exists, but unless you are a biochemist or have a good grasp on the stuff don’t get bogged down in the details aside from notable examples.

I need a Tl;Dr, this is long

  1. Don’t leave foods or supplements in compromised areas and follow label instructions for storage, otherwise the compound itself might be damaged, changed, or rendered ineffective
  2. Be aware of the possibility that some nutrients can be changed during cooking, and never overcook anything
  3. Be aware that compounds that are sensitive to acids and bases may not survive digestion, that not all compounds are taken up into the liver 100% (hence why bioavailability is even a concern) and that some factors such as intestinal irritants can screw around with digestion
  4. Be aware that some compounds can be tagged by the liver as toxins accidentally, and that unless there is a study showing that ingesting a pill shows benefits you might not be able to get benefits from pills that are shown in experiments where the compound is injected into the blood or into a cell culture
  5. A compromised state of health may impair how nutrients get to your cells on the liver level as well as transport in the blood
  6. Be aware that, even when in the cell, nutrients can still be impaired by each other.

To end this article on a good note, 95% of personal progress and advancement will come from following basic nutrition and exercise rules such as eating your veggies, drinking water, doing some anaerobic work every now and then, etc. The above falls into that 5%.


Connect with Facebook

Speak Your Mind