What Do Beer, Spiders, Gastric Ulcers, ASA and ARA Have In Common?

ARA is Arachidonic Acid, the often maligned Omega-6 fatty acid associated with inflammation. It is a necessary component of cell membranes and serves many other functions in the body. So-named because it is the tetraenoic (4 unsaturated C-C bonds) version of the saturated arachidic acid found in peanut oil. I wondered until now what the relationship was to the French word arachide, peanut.  But arachide and arachnoid (spider) are both derived from the Greek word for cobweb. I suppose because the root networks of peanuts resemble spider webs.

Acetyl Salicylic Acid, ASA for short, is the chemical name for Aspirin which blocks or reduces the activity of COX enzyme and consequently helps control pain and inflammation.

The following discussion is expanded from one that took place earlier on facebook with a few postscript details, such as the relationship between butyric acid, butter, and GALT, gut associated lymph tissue. Butyric acid is the name for the C4 short chain fatty acid. so-named for its presence in butter at levels as high as 5%. Beers contain yeast fermentation products called diacetyls which give a buttery taste. Diacetyl and butyrate are similar C4 molecules with similar flavors. In beer the diacetyl is desirable or not according to the level and the expected flavor of the style of beer. At higher levels butyrate is recognizable as the distinctive odor of vomit. Unlike Vegas, what happens in the gut (fementation of dietary fiber producing beneficial SCFAs including acetate, propionate, butyrate) does not stay in the gut.

The Iditarod vets have been trying to solve the problem of GI ulcers for many years but seem obsessed with finding drugs rather than a functional approach leading to prevention.

Psyllium fiber and similar supplements may be sufficient without allopathic drugs. In pigs and racehorses stomach ulcers are associated with food particle size, fiber, and GI transit time.

Doug Bibus and Steve Phinney did a study of Iditarod dogs based on the hypothesis that the arachidonic acid (Omega 6) while inflammatory in excess (and/or in relations to Omega 3) is involved in the production of mucous as a kind of inflammatory response protecting the stomach lining (that’s why NSAIDS can cause stomach ulcers) and that in prolonged oxidative stress like Iditarod arachidonic acid is depleted, causing stomach ulcers and “burned membrane syndrome.”

I hear that the vets in the Wyoming race recommended prilosec and other antacids, then prescribed flagyl when things got ugly with GI upset and diarrhea.

In other posts there are studies cited showing partial explanation or mechanism for what some of us mushers have known for around 20 years, how psyllium husk in the diet can prevent kennel cough and other infectious diseases. You don’t need to know how it works to benefit from using it! Same goes for Panacur. And if you don’t believe that, tell me how you manage to go online with your computer/tablet or smartphone.

Would seem to be counterproductive to use antacids to treat a disease in which the acid sensitive bacteria are possibly a factor.

I thought I heard that vets had done several studies of dogs in the Iditarod and did not find any correlation between stomach ulcers and bacteria or diarrhea. But as the articles mention, the helicobacter are difficult to identify or culture.

I was adding to my slideshow about history of sled dog nutrition (that I gave for Eukanuba VIP event at Grande Odysee last year) and started a list of errors usually associated with false proxies or mistaking coincidence for causality:

Muscle glycogen repletion now thought to suppress growth hormone secretion

High vit E supplementation as alpha tocopherol now seen as pro-oxidant and interfering with gamma tocopherol; also misdirecting attention from tocotrienols

Concern for ARA which misses its importance for healing. Doug Bibus has a lipids laboratory where he does HPLC on tissue and food samples to quantify fat levels. He often finds higher ARA levels in tissue with muscle damage. That does not mean the arachidonic acid was a factor in cause; it was part of the healing. In another study he found high correlation in major surgery patients between length of time before they were re-introduced solid food and septicemia. All else being equal, the sooner fermentation resumes in the bowel the better.

With Iditarod and other extended races requiring a high volume of food intake, it’s possible that the time resident in the bowel does not allow adequate fermentation, leading to similar immune dysfunction. Could it be possible to supplement  butyrate to the GALT tissue ? In the triglyceride form, trybutyrin would be absorbed high in the intestine (and does not require hydroysis for digestion) but might be selected by the liver and circulated to the gut tissues.

Another possibility is that since the food is required in such a volume to meet caloric demand, the amount of fiber and other dietary contents reaching the large intestine should be reduced from what is in the normal feed composition. Fermentation in the gut is more like a batch process that needs a certain amount of time to complete before it is pushed out by newer digesta.


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