Taurine: Nature’s Defender Against Infections and Much More

Antibiotics have been crucial in saving lives, but due to over-reliance and overuse, many strains of bacteria have developed a resistance, leaving healthcare professionals searching for alternatives. Recently, scientists have been exploring the potential of taurine, a nutrient found in everyday foods, which could encourage good bacteria within the body to target disease-causing pathogens.

The Benefits of Taurine

Taurine is a natural amino acid present in the body, playing a vital role in protecting cells from damage. Researchers have found that it may be useful in killing invading pathogens, like Klebsiella pneumoniae (Kpn), by triggering helpful gut bacteria to attack harmful bacteria, as well as remaining vigilant against possible future infections.

For years, experts have been attempting to uncover the role gut microbiota plays in defending against bacterial infections. Scientists from five National Institutes of Health facilities have observed that microbiota can help prevent Kpn infections when transferred to germ-free mice. Through their research, they have identified a class of bacteria—Deltaproteobacteria—responsible for combating these infections, discovering that taurine is present when these bacteria are in action.

The study revealed that low levels of taurine allow pathogens to colonize the gut; conversely, higher levels produce enough hydrogen sulfide to prevent such colonization. They also found that the liver and gallbladder can develop long-term infection protection after just a single mild infection, preparing the microbiota to fend off future infections. Furthermore, when the mice were given taurine in their drinking water, their microbiota were better prepared to prevent infection. This protection waned, however, when they consumed bismuth subsalicylate because it inhibits hydrogen sulfide production.

More Reasons to Get Taurine

Taurine is abundant in meat, fish, and eggs. Those adhering to a strict vegetarian diet should ensure they consume enough taurine for optimum health benefits. Taurine plays an essential part in several aspects of our overall health, including:

  • Healthy metabolism: Taurine aids the liver in creating bile salts that break down fatty acids in the intestines, such as cholesterol.
  • Eye protection: Taurine helps protect the retina from retinal degeneration. Low taurine levels may contribute to glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy development.
  • Heart protection: A 2017 study found that people with heart failure who took taurine before and after exercise for two weeks had lower blood cholesterol and inflammation than those given a placebo.
  • Muscle protection: Taurine helps ensure muscle function and shields against muscle damage.
  • Brain aging: Taurine supplementation may help protect long-term memory storage.
  • Improved diabetes markers: A 2012 animal study in rats suggested taurine could help reduce glucose levels, improve insulin resistance, and lower cholesterol. More research is needed to establish the same benefits for humans with diabetes.

Some energy drinks include taurine due to its nootropic and neuroprotective properties, promoting healthy brain activity, memory, and cognition.