How is Ammonia produced?
Ammonia is produced as a by-product in the colon by bacterial fermentation of protein and other nitrogen-containing substances. Levels of ammonia in the colon increase as protein intake increases. Elevated levels of colonic ammonia may have adverse health effects. Research indicates that ammonia levels as low as 5mmol/L can have detrimental effects on epithelial cells that line the colon. The toxicity of ammonia toward colonic epithelial cells can lead to cell destruction and increased turnover of these cells (1) In addition, increased production of ammonia from eating a high-protein diet was shown to increase the incidence of colon cancer in animal models. (2) Levels of ammonia found in the colon after consumption of the typical Western diet are associated with increased viral infections, promotion of growth of cancer cells, toxicity and altered nucleic acid synthesis, and increased mass of the intestinal mucosal cells.18
How to keep ammonia levels down
Eat a balanced diet as in low sugar, no processed foods, an adequate amount of protein but not excessive , fruit and vegetables, whole grains and so on. Foods with prebiotics e.g. like fermented foods is important too and. Probiotic supplementation maybe a good idea too as it will help improve the gut environment. A recent study showed that supplementation with probiotics and prebiotics in patients with colon cancer decreased cell proliferation and other cancer markers while stimulating the immune response. Additionally, supplementation of these beneficial bacteria decreased the levels of pathogenic bacteria in the colon (3).
- Robinson RR, Feirtag J, Slavin JL. Effects of dietary arabinogalactan on gastrointestinal and blood parameters in healthy human subjects. J Am Coll Nutr. 2001 Aug;20(4):279-85.
- Bartram HP Scheppach W. Schmid H, Hofmann A, Dusel G, Richter A, Kasper H proliferation of human colonic mucosa as an intermediate biomarker of carcinogenesis: effects of butyrate, deoxycholate, calcium, ammonia, and pH. Cancer Res. 1993 Jul 15;53 (14):3283-8.
- Rafter J, Bennett M, Caderni G, Clune Y, Huges R, Karlsson PC, Klinder A, O’Riordan M, O’Sullivan GC, Pool-Zobel B, Rechkemmer G, Roller M, Rowland I, Salcadori M, Thijs H, Van Loo J, Watzl B, Collins JK. Dietary synbiotics reduce cancer risk factors in polypectomized and colon cancer patients. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Feb;85(2):488-96.