What Are Amino Acids?
Amino acids are known as the building blocks of protein and are used in every cell of your body. They build the proteins you need to survive. Moreover, many amino acids have a role in building and repairing body tissues, which is critical to wound healing.
The body obtains amino acids from proteins found in food, especially meat, dairy products, and legumes. It is important to eat a healthy diet that provides a variety of amino acids each day while healing.
When we consume protein in the diet, the protein in the gastrointestinal tract is broken down into individual amino acids and then put back together again as new protein. This complex biological process is called protein biosynthesis.
How Can Amino Acids Help With Wound Healing?
The human body can synthesize (break down and reconfigure) most amino acids. However, the body cannot synthesize nine of the amino acids—these must come from foods. Plus, when your body is healing or under stress from a disease or chronic condition, the demand for certain amino acids may increase. Studies have looked closely at arginine and glutamine, two amino acids that are known for their role in wound healing. In fact, collagen formation was significantly enhanced in healthy elderly volunteers after two weeks of supplementing their diet with arginine, glutamine, and HMB (a byproduct of the breakdown of the amino acid leucine).1
Amino Acid Supplementation
Ask your healthcare team if amino acid supplementation is the right choice for you. If it is, look for arginine, glutamine, and HMB on supplement labels. Powdered drink mixes are a convenient way to fit in a supplement.
Arginine in Wound Healing
Arginine is important to the wound healing process, helping to increase blood flow and oxygen to the wound. This results in increased collagen formation and reduced inflammation.
Glutamine in Wound Healing
Glutamine has many functions, including: stimulating collagen production; regulating nitrogen metabolism; and supporting the immune system
HMB in Wound Healing
HMB stands for beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate. HMB comes from the amino acid leucine. It helps to reduce inflammation and protect your muscles from damage. HMB works to keep the body’s muscle cell walls strong in order to protect the muscle from stress-related damage. It is difficult to get a large amount of HMB through food, so ask your healthcare provider if HMB supplementation may be right for you.