Effect of Dietary Protein Quality on the Biochemical Adaptation to High Altitude
The usefulness of a particular type of dietary protein for a quicker acclimatization to simulated high altitude stress was investigated in albino rats, by studying the changes occurring in the levels of urea cycle enzymes in liver. A good quality protein in (egg) and a commonly used dal protein (arhar dal, Cajanus cajan) were studied.
Liver arginase levels increased on starvation in the two groups of rats fed with egg and dal diets, the increase being less and gradual in the dal diet fed group. Exposure to the simulated altitude stress for various periods further increased the enzyme levels, greater changes being seen in egg diet fed group only. Similar observations were made with liver ornithine transcarbamylase which is a mitochondrial enzyme. Urea cycle enzymes were affected more in the exposed animals maintained on the egg diet than those on the dal diet. Moreover, the enzymic parameters of the latter group tended to return to the normal level much earlier than the former. It is, therefore, suggested that not-so-well-balanced dietary proteins may be well suited to overcome the initial problem of metabolic adaptation faced by subjects exposed to high altitude stress.
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