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In Search Of Insight Podcast

In Search Of Insight | A Nootropics Depot Podcast

INTRODUCING THE NOOTROPICS DEPOT PODCAST

IN SEARCH OF INSIGHT

Meet your hosts Emiel and Erika, and prepare to take a deep dive into the science behind Nootropics Depot's industry-leading approach to health and nootropics in our very first episode of "In Search of Insight."

In this episode, we explore the function of uric acid in the body and the many ways that Tart Cherry effects it. From benefitting exercise recovery to promoting healthy sleep cycles, Tart Cherry is a game changer!


Listen to the Nootropics Depot Podcast Elsewhere

In Search Of Insight | A Nootropics Depot Podcast

INTRODUCING THE NOOTROPICS DEPOT PODCAST

IN SEARCH OF INSIGHT

Meet your hosts Emiel and Erika, and prepare to take a deep dive into the science behind Nootropics Depot's industry-leading approach to health and nootropics in our very first episode of "In Search of Insight."

In this episode, we explore the function of uric acid in the body and the many ways that Tart Cherry effects it. From benefitting exercise recovery to promoting healthy sleep cycles, Tart Cherry is a game changer!


Listen to the Nootropics Depot Podcast Elsewhere


#001 | Tart Cherry & Its Unique Effects On Exercise Recovery

Podcast Transcript

Erika

Welcome, everyone. You are listening to Nootropics Depot's podcast "In Search of Insight." I'm your host, Erika, and sitting next to me is the product specialist, Emiel.

 

Emiel

Hey, everyone!

 

Erika

So today, Emiel and I are going to be talking about three big topics. The first is uric acid, the second is exercise performance, and the third is tart cherry extract. So to get started, Emiel, can you give us just a general understanding of what is uric acid?

 

Emiel

Absolutely. So uric acid is a compound that is produced during purine metabolism.

 

Erika

Oh, hold up right there. What is a purine?

 

Emiel

That's a bit of a tough question to answer, actually. Purines are a class of compounds that contain nitrogen, and these compounds are present in our food, they're present in our DNA, they're present in our RNA, and they're present in a lot of different signaling molecules and energy molecules throughout your body. One of the main ones being ATP.

 

Erika

Oh, yes. Adenosine triphosphate.

 

Emiel

Yeah. And we probably all know that comes from Mitochondria, the powerhouse of the cell.

 

Erika

Yes, that was my favorite.

 

Emiel

Yeah. So that's kind of maybe one of the main sources of uric acid. So when I'm talking right here, my muscles need to contract, and while my muscles are contracting, they need some sort of energy source to make that contraction happen. And that energy source is ATP. When a muscle contracts and it goes through ATP, it generates ADP, adenosine diphosphate. So basically, the way ATP can power different reactions and muscle contractions and things like that is basically by losing a phosphate group.

 

Erika

I see. Okay, so adenosine triphosphate loses a phosphate, becomes adenosine diphosphate. I'm guessing... well, actually, I already know- it becomes adenosine monophosphate after that. And then what happens, Emiel?

 

Emiel

Well, and then after that, it loses another phosphate group and it becomes adenosine. And adenosine is one of the main purine nucleosides.

 

Erika

Okay, so when we're talking about purine metabolism, we're going from ATP all the way down, losing the phosphates, and we're getting to adenosine. Keep going.

 

Emiel

Correct. I do just want to say that's only one of the purine metabolism pathways. There's a few other ones, too. For example, Guanine turns into Xanthine. That's kind of where we need to go back to the purine metabolism pathway of ATP, because xanthine is really important here, and that will become a little bit more clear as we talk about it. So let's revisit ATP again. So in the normal process, like we were saying earlier, we're going from ATP to ADP to AMP to adenosine, then adenosine is turning into homoxanthine and homoxanthine is turning into xanthine, and xanthine is turning into uric acid.

 

Erika

Coming full circle now. Okay, so now that we know where uric acid comes from, I also want to know, what is uric acid doing?

 

Emiel

That seems to be a bit of a hot topic for debate, because we're not really sure. It's a really interesting compound. A lot of different animals have an enzyme called uricase, which directly breaks down uric acid. But that enzyme seems to be missing in humans and in primates. That's led a lot of scientists to consider the role of uric acid in human health. And the really interesting thing about uric acid is that it's actually a really potent antioxidant that's naturally present in our bodies. So a lot of the thinking about uric acid is considering its role as an antioxidant. But the interesting thing is, while we were talking about this metabolism pathway of ATP turning into uric acid, once we hit homozanthine, xanthine and uric acid, that portion of the metabolism, something interesting happens.

 

Erika

What is going on? Tell me.

 

Emiel

So there's an enzyme that is converting, or there's an enzyme that is responsible for that conversion. And that enzyme is called xanthine oxidase. But xanthine oxidase also requires oxygen and H2O. So when oxygen and H2O are present together with xanthine oxidase, then xanthine oxidase can take homoxanthine and turn it into xanthine. But during this process, you also generate a really strong oxidant compound. And that oxidant compound is called superoxide. You also generate hydrogen ions, and we'll touch on that a little bit later. But basically, when we're thinking about hydrogen ions, we're thinking about acidity. We're thinking about acidity within our muscles, and we probably know this a little bit already with lactic acid. You know, that burning feeling, the muscle fatigue. It is based partially on PH changes. So that's happening here, too, with purine metabolism, you're generating a really strong oxidizing compound, superoxide, and you're getting some hydrogen ions. So maybe some PH changes. But the interesting thing here is uric acid is working as an antioxidant. But while it's being generated, it's actually producing oxidizing compounds.

 

Erika

Isn't that kind of paradoxical?

 

Emiel

Yeah. So that's kind of what I've been thinking, reading a lot of these studies. So, yeah, uric acid might act as an antioxidant, but in the process of its creation, it's creating oxidizing compounds. So it might have its hands full already with taking care of the oxidation during its own formation. Furthermore, uric acid is actually quite a strong inflammatory compound. So it might have some good antioxidant effects. And it does seem like at certain levels of uric acid concentrations throughout your body, it does indeed have a positive effect on oxidative status. It also has a positive effect on immune function. And that's probably no surprise because of its inflammation inducing effects.

 

Erika

I see, because we know that inflammation, it's not always a bad thing, right? Sometimes inflammation is necessary, like, for example, during exercise to build muscles.

 

Emiel

Yeah. So while we're exercising, we actually need some inflammation, and we need some oxidation to drive the adaptation to exercise.

 

Erika

And so then when it comes to your immune function, talking about inflammation, how do these things relate and is inflammation okay when we're talking about its relationship to your immune function?

 

Emiel

Yeah. So basically, and I hate to break it down this simply, but your immune function is basically a positive inflammatory response. And sometimes it's not positive. But it's one of the main tools our immune system has to fight off certain things that we don't want in our body. So it's the main tool. When it goes out of context a little bit, or it happens when we don't want it to happen, then it's not really good. But during exercise, it's actually kind of important to have some inflammation. So there's some really interesting research actually on that looking at arachidonic acid, which is one of the main inflammatory compounds in our body. When body builders are supplementing arachidonic acid before exercise, it seemed like it was having an ergogenic effect. And that's probably because the inflammation is being driven up and is causing more muscular damage. And because of that, we need to rebuild a little bit stronger.

 

Erika

Okay. So how does this all circle back and relate to what we were talking about with uric acid?

 

Emiel

Yeah. So this is a really interesting topic because we know that uric acid partially comes from ATP breakdown, and we know that ATP breakdown starts when we need to use ATP. So, for example, when we're exercising and the harder we exercise, the more ATP we burn through, the more ATP we're going through, the more xanthine compounds you have. And then if xanthine oxidase is working at its full potential, you get quite a bit of uric acid. And like we were mentioning earlier, we don't currently have a functioning enzyme (uricase) to take care of uric acid levels.

 

Erika

And when you say "we," you're talking about humans, right?

 

Emiel

Yeah.

 

Erika

Okay. Cool, just making sure.

 

Emiel

Humans and primates.

 

Erika

Okay. Humans and primates, got it.

 

Emiel

So looking at kind of some of the other metabolism pathways where you can get rid of uric acid, one of the main ones is through the kidneys. So the kidneys filter an insane amount of uric acid every day. But the kidneys actually let through 90% of the filtered uric acid and let it be absorbed back into your body.

 

Erika

Okay, so when uric acid is being produced, like during exercise, some of it is being filtered by the kidneys. But then a lot of it is actually staying present in the body.

 

Emiel

Yeah. That's why scientists are a little bit confused. It seems like we need it. But do we really? And maybe one of the arguments for uric acid, and if we look at some research at heavy exercise, we can see that the harder we exercise, the more purine metabolism we get because we're going through more ATP and the more uric acid we get. So maybe an interesting theory here is that uric acid is part of the adaptive process of exercise. It is maybe one of the compounds that is inducing that muscular inflammation that's signaling to our bodies, "Hey! Something is going on here. We need to be more resistant to this." And that's kind of where a lot of the benefits of exercise come from, but it's likely also where delayed onset muscle soreness comes from.

 

Erika

Okay, I see. So when it comes to the intensity of your workout and maybe the soreness you experience afterward, where does uric acid really fit into that experience of your heavy workout, your recovery, and then eventually some soreness, especially if you're hitting your workout super hard. Where does uric acid come into play in that process?

 

Emiel

So in that process, I really just think that uric acid is causing some of that inflammation in your muscles, but it's also probably a main factor of delayed onset muscle soreness. I was reading a research study recently that showed that directly after high intensity exercise, uric acid levels go up by about 40%, which is a pretty rapid increase. The next day, however, uric acid concentrations were also higher. In fact, it increased another 23%.

 

Erika

On top of that initial 40%?

 

Emiel

Yeah.

 

Erika

Oh, wow.

 

Emiel

So if we think about this progression and we think about how delayed onset muscle soreness kicks in, it kind of makes sense that uric acid may be one of the main mediators of delayed onset muscle soreness.

 

Erika

Okay, I see. So now that we understand where uric acid is coming from and what role it plays in exercise performance and then also exercise recovery, how do we address uric acid? Because there's both positive aspects to this compound in our bodies. But then I don't like being sore after a workout. So how much uric acid do I actually need? And how do I know what amount is good for me? How do I know what scenarios I would want more or less uric acid present in my body, if I really had the choice?

 

Emiel

Yeah. So I'm going to have a bit of an unscientific statement here and just say that in general, we probably just want less uric acid.

 

Erika

So how much uric acid do we want?

 

Emiel

Less!

 

Erika

Okay, got it.

 

Emiel

And that's where tart cherry comes in. So as we were talking about, to get to uric acid, one of the main pathways is xanthine oxidase. So if xanthine oxidase is in full swing and we're having a lot of purine metabolism, then we have a lot of feedstock basically, for this enzyme, so we can make a lot of uric acid, which is why it makes sense that uric acid concentrations go up during exercise. Tart cherry has a really unique effect due to its anthocyanin content, and it blocks the function of xanthine oxidase. And that's not really a common mechanism of action when we look at different plants, and it's certainly not a mechanism of action when we look at a lot of different recovery supplements for exercise. So that's why I personally think tart cherry is a really unique option to look at for exercise recovery because it's targeting a pathway that very logically seems to be related to delayed onset muscle soreness. And in fact, tart cherry has very quickly become one of the most popular supplements for athletes for recovery. And if we just look at the general antioxidant effects of tart cherry, this doesn't really make sense. So there are a lot of different supplements that we can take that regulates oxidation. And while some of those help a little bit with delayed onset muscle soreness, it kind of just seems to mask the symptoms of delayed onset muscle soreness, but it doesn't actually seem to help us recover all too much. It just kind of puts a bandaid on it. Whereas with tart cherry, that bandaid type effect is still there. You get some relief from that delayed onset muscle soreness, but it also really just seems to go away. And people seem to recover a little bit better when they take tart cherry, maybe an hour or two after their exercise.

 

Erika

Yeah, that was going to be my next question. If tart cherry is so useful for exercise recovery, and like myself, I think a lot of people don't enjoy the soreness after exercise, maybe a little bit, but definitely not that second day, that delayed onset muscle soreness you're talking about. So is there any reason why I shouldn't be taking tart cherry every single day, or is there a best use for tart cherry? Is there a place where tart cherry really shines as far as its ability to regulate uric acid production?

 

Emiel

Yeah. So that's a really good question. So I personally take tart cherry every day. We can get into some of the reasons why I do this a little bit later because there are some other really interesting effects associated with tart cherry and uric acid that are not related to exercise. But in the context of exercise, timing is really important. So if we take tart cherry right before we exercise, then we might be shooting ourselves in the foot.

 

Erika

How so?

 

Emiel

So, like we were saying earlier, that increased oxidation and inflammation in your muscles is really important for training purposes, for adapting to exercise, to getting stronger. So if we take that away, then what do you think will happen?

 

Erika

We would probably get less strong and it's going to take longer.

 

Emiel

Right. Which means you have to do more work for less returns. And we don't really like that. At least I don't like it. So I want to optimize the exercise I do. And because of that, we don't really want to take oxidation or inflammation regulating compounds right before exercise because we want that inflammation and oxidation. So with that in mind, if you take tart cherry before a workout, maybe not the best use, it probably won't negate all of the effects of exercise, there are also other mechanisms at play here, but the best use case would be to take it after exercise. So you still get some of that initial burst of uric acid. You get that initial burst of oxidation and inflammation and minor muscle damage, and your body can start rebuilding this getting stronger, actually benefiting from the exercise you're doing, and then taking tart cherry right after is going to blunt that response of uric acid the next day and the day after, et cetera. So it's kind of a nice strategy to manipulate how our body recovers from exercise through a pretty smart way. Rather than just throwing some antioxidants and throwing some inflammation regulating compounds at our bodies, we kind of go to the root cause with precision. So here we can be really precise. Uric acid is probably causing a lot of delayed onset muscle soreness symptoms. Let's get rid of it with tart cherry, and this seems to be a really good strategy, which is why it's so popular.

 

Erika

Yeah, that makes sense. I think one thing when it comes to exercise and training that I know is important to me and to a lot of other people is that we don't want to do anything to take away the benefits of our exercise. So now that we know that taking tart cherry after an exercise session is going to be more beneficial to strength building, what about activities that require more endurance or are, like, a little bit longer in duration or for people who are going on long treks or maybe like a marathon runner, how does tart cherry relate to training and recovery in those instances where we need lots of energy over an extended period of time?

 

Emiel

Yeah, so there we want to do the opposite. So like we were talking about when we're going through a lot of ATP, we have more potential for uric acid because of xanthine oxidase. But like we were also saying, while xanthine oxidase is performing its conversion, you're also getting superoxide anion, and you're getting hydrogen ions, which can negatively impact muscle fatigue, or negatively impact muscle fatigue? It just causes muscle fatigue.

 

Erika

Which I guess we could all say is generally negative.

 

Emiel

Yeah. But actually, with tart cherry, we are going to be negatively impacting muscle fatigue, which is then going to cause the opposite reaction, which is less muscle fatigue.

 

Erika

Okay, cool.

 

Emiel

One of the things is when we block the activity of xanthine oxidase, not only are we getting less uric acid, we are also probably getting less superoxide anion and less hydrogen ions, which should promote muscular endurance. It will probably take away a little bit from the adaptive process of exercise. But if you've been training extensively for a marathon, you don't really care about coming out of that marathon even stronger. The marathon is the day where you put everything on the line. You test out the abilities of your body, you kind of go until you fall down dead at the end of the marathon.

 

Erika

Yeah, I would hope not. But maybe tart cherry can help smooth out the process a little bit more with regulating some of those less than desirable effects of really hard exercise. Certainly, if you're going to be running a marathon.

 

Emiel

Yeah. So in that use case, taking tart cherry before, during and after would be a really good strategy to enhance your muscular endurance.

 

Erika

That makes sense. So understanding how uric acid is forming in the body, where it's coming from, and what kinds of activities are going to be producing greater amounts of uric acid, like heavy exercise or high intensity exercise. Now, we know a little more context when it comes to when is the right time to take tart cherry and why we might want to take it for training versus for performance and just generally regulating that uric acid production and hopefully pushing away some of the less than desirable effects that we have from this particular compound in the body. What other kinds of benefits does tart cherry have for us, aside from that uric acid regulation?

 

Emiel

Well, actually, let's keep focusing on that uric acid regulation because uric acid doesn't only play a role in physical endurance and exercise and things like that, but it actually has neurological effects, too. This is the one area that I'm really excited about myself, and it kind of seems to be unexplored territory. So I always really like getting into these rabbit holes where I get to explore something that not a whole lot of people are talking about, but a mechanism that might be really important to understanding our own brains better, cognitive health, how we can improve things. And uric acid doesn't really seem to be part of the conversation at this point, and I kind of want to make it part of the conversation because it's a really interesting compound. And within the brain, uric acid can accumulate in quite high amounts in the hippocampus, and the hippocampus is really important for memory processing, for overall cognitive function and even for mood. So when we have excessive inflammation in this area of the brain, it's pretty much bad news all around. So we might see cognitive deficits. We might see poor mood. We kind of want to avoid this. So this is one of the other areas where tart cherry may help out by inhibiting that enzyme that produces uric acid. And it's not the only pathway by which uric acid gets produced, but it's one of the main ones. So by inhibiting this pathway, there's potentially less uric acid floating around in the brain, too. And this could have really good cognitive effects and not only in the hippocampus, it also seems that uric acid has an effect on sleep.

 

Erika

Okay, so not only does uric acid affect exercise and energy and my recovery, my muscles soreness, it may have effects on my mood and cognitive health and effects on sleep as well. So now I can really understand why you're so excited about it, because aside from sleeping, waking, exercising and then eating, it's not a whole lot else to human life. And I think sleep is probably one of the more important aspects of health as well, especially when considering the fact that we don't really understand sleep that well, but if uric acid has a part in sleep, then it must be super important, since it also seems to have an extremely valuable part in pretty much every other human activity.

 

Emiel

Yeah. And it seems that high levels of uric acid actually have a negative impact on sleep, and there's a few explanations for it. So one of the explanations might be that structurally, it's somewhat similar to caffeine. So there's some theories that perhaps uric acid itself has slightly stimulating effect, that this could negatively impact sleep. So let's roll with that theory for a little bit. We have a lot of uric acid in our brain. Maybe it's keeping us awake, similar to caffeine. And in studies where they see high serum levels of uric acid, they do see a kind of similar effect. And this brings up a really interesting point for me. A lot of people talk about tart cherry and its effects on sleep, and the conversation always goes to melatonin. There are some research studies out there saying that tart cherries, in their natural form, contain melatonin. And while this is true, I've done the math on it, and I can't really remember exactly what it was, but I helped out a customer with this once. Basically, you have to eat a truckload worth of tart cherries to get any appreciable amount of melatonin.

 

Erika

Okay, so not really practical in terms of addressing sleep concerns.

 

Emiel

No. Well, maybe, but it doesn't seem like melatonin is the main compound of interest here, and we were actually really interested in this, too. So we tested one of our tart cherry extracts, and it contains no melatonin at all. However, I have personally also noticed that it has a positive impact on sleep and anecdotally a lot of people say it has a positive impact on sleep. So if it's not melatonin, it has to be something else. And I think that something else is uric acid, especially looking at the link between high uric acid levels and poor sleep.

 

Erika

Okay, so what you're saying is that the xanthine oxidase regulating aspect of tart cherry is perhaps the reason why you're getting sleep benefits from it.

 

Emiel

Yeah. So that's kind of my running theory at the moment, because it's pretty undeniable for me. I notice those effects, and the only thing that really makes sense at this point, unless there are some other pathways at play here. But the uric acid pathway seems to make a lot of sense, especially because there seems to be a link between uric acid and sleep. It seems to be an under explored pathway for sleep, and the whole uric acid conversation doesn't really come up a whole lot with tart cherry. So I think when we take all of those factors together, it's likely that the xanthine oxidase regulating effect is causing both positive effects on sleep and overall cognitive health, perhaps also mood.

 

Erika

Pretty amazing that uric acid seems to hit the trifecta of affecting our sleep, affecting our exercise recovery, and also affecting our cognitive functions as well.

 

Emiel

Yeah. And that's honestly one of the reasons why I'm so interested in tart cherry. If I'm taking it, it doesn't really have a very noticeable acute effect. So it kind of hangs out in the background, which is nice, because I can stack it with some other products. But the research on uric acid is interesting enough for me that just trying out something that helps regulate uric acid levels is a pretty interesting approach to nootropics, so not something you can maybe feel right away. It's not stimulating, like Sabroxy, it's not calming, like Kava. It's kind of neutral. I mean, in taste, too. It doesn't really taste like anything.

 

Erika

Yeah. But I have to say the appearance of it is pretty phenomenal because it's a gorgeous, like, really dark purple color. And then if you add it to something that's just a little bit acidic, like a drink or maybe like drinking vinegar in your water, it turns red because of the anthocyanins, which I think is just the coolest thing ever.

 

Emiel

Yeah. So actually, Erika brings up a really interesting point here. Anthocyanins can be used as environmentally friendly PH meters, because when they are exposed to different PH levels, they actually change their color. So that was one of the interesting things about tart cherry that I discovered accidentally. I was making a drink with it with some lemon juice, and the purple color turned into a red color. So really, just the change in PH changed the color, which then reminded me of oh, yeah, anthocyanins can actually be used as PH meters. So not really important for the effects of tart cherry, but if you want to try it at home, it's a pretty interesting thing to see happening in real time. Just make up a tart cherry solution, add some sort of acid to it. It can be lemon juice. I tried it later with citric acid, ascorbic acid, malic acid. I even tried some vinegar. Those all work. So that PH change is really what's causing that color change. So that's a pretty interesting thing. But other than that, it's tasteless. You can kind of add it to anything, hangs out in the background. But its effects on uric acid are really interesting. And I think this is an area that deserves a little bit more attention.

 

Erika

Yeah, it certainly seems like it because if uric acid is really having this much of an effect, perhaps negative effect on sleep quality or just general fatigue and muscle soreness, I think it's something that is a big concern for a lot of people on a daily basis. And I know beyond the fun color taking tart cherry and that experience of seeing it in my morning elixir, I also do notice effects of it overall, throughout these three kind of big areas that we talked about. So thanks so much for going really deep in depth with just the processes of how we get to uric acid and where uric acid is hanging out in our bodies and what it's doing. I feel like I have a totally different and deeper understanding now than I did earlier, which is amazing because that's what we hope for you as well. You listeners who are tuning into "In Search of Insight" with us here at Nootropics Depot. So, Emiel, thank you so much for just exploring all of this and sharing your wealth of knowledge.

 

Emiel

Of course, it's really exciting that I get an opportunity to talk about this outside of a blog. I can talk a little bit more freely. We can kind of go a little bit more in depth and really break things down. So I hope you guys like this format. We'll be doing a lot more in the future and, yeah, check us out on our subreddit, too. And if you like this episode and you want to ask us a few questions about it, start up a thread. We'll be in there. I'm u/pretty-chill on Reddit and Erika is...

 

Erika

I am u/NootropicsDepotGuru. So here you have two great resources. We can answer your questions. We'll chat with you. And really, if you're curious about uric acid, if you're curious about tart cherry, if you want to know more about this metabolism process and really get into the nitty-gritty of what's happening in the body in these different areas, sleep, cognition, and exercise, feel free to send us a message, make a post, because we want to interact with you, and we want to hear what you are curious about learning, because that's going to help us guide "In Search of Insight" as well, because naturally, we're all looking for something. In this case, we want to know more. And Emiel has got some answers. I've got lots of questions and we have lots more podcast ideas for you, hopefully coming very soon. So thanks so much for listening. And that's all we have for you today. Until next time, bye bye.

 

Emiel

Bye.

 

Read The Tart Cherry Blog

What Is Tart Cherry?

Tart cherry, also known as sour cherry or Prunus cerasus, is a fruit that is closely related to sweet cherries. Tart cherries are much smaller than the more common sweet cherries. This has earned them another popular name, the "dwarf cherry." As the name would suggest, tart cherries are also significantly more sour than sweet cherries. It is believed that tart cherries originated in either Eastern Europe or Iran where Prunus avium (sweet cherries) and Prunus fruticosa formed a natural hybrid, which stabilized and resulted in an entirely new species.

Tart cherries were incredibly popular amongst the Romans and Persians, who brought the tart cherries with them to Britain. The British, in turn, were also very fond of these tiny sour cherries. So much so that they brought the cherries with them to America. Specifically, the British brought the tart cherries over to Virginia where they were cultivated on a large scale. Tart cherries are also still very popular in Iran where they are used in various dishes such as albaloo polo which is a rice dish that incorporates tart cherries... (click here to read more)

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