Hyaluronic Acid & Digestion

HA for better digestion!

How HA can help protect the gastro-intestinal tract.  Taking hyaluronic acid (HA) supplements may help reduce acid reflux symptoms.  In a study using HA on tissue samples in a test tube, HA mixed with chondroitin healed acid-damaged tissue quicker than no treatment (17). So, it is possible that HA can help to soothe and repair the damage done to the esophagus by stomach acid, which is regurgitated into the throat during acid reflux.  A human study of HA, mixed into a supplement form with chondroitin and administered with an acid reducing medication, decreased reflux symptoms by 60% more than only taking acid reducing meds alone (18 821). When this supplement mix was compared to a placebo, the supplement mix was found to be five times more effective (19).  Taking chicken-based collagen can help the body make HA. HA is naturally present in the large particles of the gut that protect it from, and repair damage done by inflammatory bowel diseases (Chhorn’s, leaky gut syndrome, and ulcerative colitis). You can encourage your body to naturally heal from such issues by consuming HA rich foods or supplements.  These include bone broth, protein powder made from it. Please, keep in mind that the overuse of isolated HA, which has smaller particles than naturally occurring ones, can sometimes result in increased inflammation in the gut (20). Information about HA and how it works in the body tissues. 

 Hyaluronic acid is a glycosaminoglycan, meaning it has the capability to maintain a high viscosity while holding a lot of water. It is considered to be a lengthy link of carbohydrate molecules which are bound together.  These molecules hold water, so they provide a way for fluids to move in the body and for fluid related pressure to be absorbed.  The most important fact about HA is its ability to retain water throughout the body (skin, eyes, joints).  In short, hyaluronic acid has a great capacity for retaining water, whether on the skin, in the eyes or within soft tissue. It is present in a variety of bodily tissues, but the majority of it, 50%, is in the skin.  It is here where HA provides structure and moisture. Aside from the skin, HA is prevalent in joints, tendons, skeletal tissues, synovial fluid, the eyes, heart (aorta and valves), lungs, and prostate. Emerging research on HA has shown that it has many important roles in the body. These include the following: repairing injury of fibroblasts (these are the cells that synthesize collagen, produce the structural framework for tissue, and play a critical role in wound healing); HA helps to sustain epithelial cells (cells on the outer surfaces of organs and blood vessels, and the inner surfaces of cavities in many internal organs); it hydrates tissues; it fills the spaces in tissues and between cells; HA helps to build a framework via which cells can migrate; HA  assists in controlling  inflammation via regulating the activation of inflammatory cells; it assists in the immune response; it  partakes in the repair of tissues and wounds; it even lubricates joints (21).

How Hyaluronic Acid Works in the tissues.  There are a variety of HA molecule sizes.  This is a main reason that HA can have so many different functions within the body.  The larger molecules are antiangiogenic and immunosuppressive. Antiangiogenic means the process through which new blood vessels form from pre-existing vessels. This is the process that continues the growth of the vasculature by processes of spurting and splitting.  Immunosuppressive means the larger HA molecules can slow or stop an immune response. These larger molecules can be found in healthy tissues.  These control dehydration, inflammation, and free radical damage.  Smaller HA polymers can send signals of distress to the immune system, and so can raise or increase inflammation to help in the repair or wounds or assist in healing injury. Hyaluronic acid is in a class of (essential) membrane proteins called hyaluronan synthases.  These proteins form the basis of hyaluronan synthesis within the body tissues. this process is vital to maintaining health. These are the basis of hyaluronan synthesis in the body, which is vital to health. People have three kinds of hyaluronic acid synthases for creating HA (HAS1, HAS2 and HAS3). HA plays a significant role in the central nervous system, CNS, in that it plays a role in cell migration and cell signaling. Hyaluronan does this by binding to two hyaluronan receptors, DC44 and RHAMM (22). Hyaluronic acid supplements for joint pain are available in the U.S. There are several treatments based on HA that have been appr9oved for osteoarthritis of the knee.  Four such products, made from rooster or chicken combs and sometimes bacteria, are Hyalgan, Orthovisc, Supartz and Synvisc (23). Please, keep in mind that the overuse of isolated HA, which has smaller particles than naturally occurring ones, can sometimes result in increased inflammation in the gut (24). Adding hyaluronic acid-rich foods and supplements to an existing diet can encourage the body to heal itself by supporting the gastrointestinal systems in protecting and repairing itself.  These supplements include   bone broth or protein powder made from bone broth (25;27). Hyaluronic acid, HA, is naturally found in the body, and is in every connective tissue and organ (skin, blood vessels, serum, cartilage, brain, heart valves, and synovial fluid).  HA production diminishes with age. A person 75 years old has only 25% of the HA naturally present in the body that a 19-year-old would have (2). Hyaluronic acid: food sources of hyaluronic acid (HA) include the following: grass fed meats , especially beef, poultry and pork; bone broth and organ meats; starchy root vegetables contain some HA, and they boost production of it as they have many helpful nutrients (fiber, potassium, vitamins B6 & C), this is especially true of yams, but also potatoes, sweet potatoes, tubers like jicama & Jerusalem artichoke;  isoflavone rich soy-based foods enhance the production of HA. Also eat fruits high in naringenin, which inhibits the breakdown of HA, these include citrus fruits, tomatoes, and bananas. Bananas also contain a bit of HA, magnesium and vitamin C.  Vitamin C and magnesium both help galvanize the production of HA; foods high in both are: citrus fruits like grapefruits & oranges, tomatoes avocados, cherries, grapes, and mangoes, bananas; sweet peppers are high in vitamin C; magnesium rich foods help include nuts (almonds and cashews are high in magnesium), seeds, leafy greens like spinach, kale and swiss chard, and avocados, dark chocolate has small amounts of magnesium, but it also has zinc, which helps HA production and it contains flavanols (bioactive compounds or plant derived nutrients which promote healthy blood vessel function);  beans also contain both zinc and magnesium;  and, red wine has phytoestrogens which help in HA production (26).

Cautions about HA.  If you take medications that thin the blood, like aspirin or warfarin (Coumadin), don’t take HA supplements, these can increase the risk of bleeding.  If you have a history of cancer be cautious about taking HA. Keep in mind that HA is associated with increased blood vessel formation and fibroblast migration in tumor formation. And, the correlation of the aggressiveness of a tumor with the level of HA on the tumor cell’s surface has also been reported (3). The U.S. federal drug administration (FDA) states that HA related products are usually safe when used topically or taken orally.  Those who are pregnant, or breast feeding, should avoid using it as may negatively affect the development of a baby or fetus. This information is for educational and entertainment purposes only. Please see a qualified professional for help.


The information on this site is for educational and informational purposes only.  It is not to take the place of medical advice or treatment.   Seek out a qualified health care provider if you have questions or need help.  Dr. Grant is not responsible for any possible health consequences of anyone who follows or reads the information in this content.  Everyone, but especially those taking medication (over the counter or prescription) should talk with a physician before undertaking any changes to their lifestyle or diet (including taking supplements).