Researchers from the University of Guadalajara, Mexico, found that the frequent consumption of inulin from Blue Agave (Agave Tequilana Weber variety Azul) as a dietary supplement significantly reduces ammonium levels in patients suffering from cirrhosis.
Ammonium is a gas that is naturally produced by bacteria within the intestine, or by metabolic processes of nitrogenous substances such as proteins. A healthy liver metabolizes and converts it into urea, which is then eliminated through the urine; however, that does not happen in cirrhosis patients.
This leads to increased levels of toxins in the bloodstream, including ammonium, a problem known as encephalopathy hepatic, which causes an altered level of consciousness and mobility problems. The study led by Mary Fafutis Morris and Vidal Delgado Rizo, researchers at the Immunology Laboratory of the University Center for Health Sciences (CUCS), corroborated that agave inulin can decrease ammonium in the bloodstream.
For the scientific research, two groups of patients were monitored. One of them used inulin dissolved in water three times a day and others ingested lactulose, a non-absorbable sugar commonly used in the treatment to lower ammonium levels.
After several blood tests, the first group showed a greater decrease in ammonium levels than the group that took lactulose. Additionally, the latter group presented abdominal distension and flatulence, in contrast to those who ingested blue agave inulin.
“We did the analyzes, we collected the data of each group and we discovered that agave inulin decreased more the ammonium levels than lactulose; and in addition, the economic cost of this supplement for the patients was very low,” said Fafutis Morris, in charge of the immunological research of the study.
Inulin is a carbohydrate or sugar that is extracted from Blue Agave. It is a soluble fiber that strengthens the immune system so it is marketed as a food supplement in Mexico.
“It is perfectly soluble in water and is drinkable. It does not have side effects; and that was one of the very important discoveries in the study, as we found that contrary to lactulose, it does not cause intestinal inflammation, flatulence, or abdominal pain, and patients could evacuate much more easily,” says Dr. Fafutis Morris.
On the other hand, Delgado Rizo said that the ingestion of inulin also allows strengthening the intestinal microbiota of the patients, good bacteria that are found in the digestive and urinary system.
The researchers obtained in March of this year the patent for the procedure that uses agave inulin to improve the complications of liver cirrhosis.
“What the patent protects is the use of inulin to lower ammonium levels in patients with liver cirrhosis. Definitely it is not the cure. This is something that I want to highlight, but it does improve the quality of life,” said Dr. Delgado Rizo.
Source: Agencia ID