Ammonium can be produced in the digestive tract through several mechanisms. One of the most common ways is through bacteria which produce the urease enzyme. The urease enzyme has the ability to break down urea, a substance which is present in throughout the digestive tract, and splits urea into carbon dioxide and ammonia (ammonia is the non-ionic form of ammonium). In order for ammonia to be converted into ammonium, it needs an extra hydrogen atom which it can gain from acid e.g. stomach acid.
H. pylori, for example, affects an estimated 50% of the population and is a bacterial infestation of the stomach which creates the urease enzyme to convert urea into carbon dioxide and ammonia. The ammonia is then used as a ‘shield’ to protect itself from being killed by stomach acid as it neutralise stomach acid. When this happens, the stomach acid donates a hydrogen atom to ammonia and turns ammonia into ammonium, a positively charged ion which MANC® particles can bind to.
Lower down in the intestinal tract, bacteria such as also produce the urease enzyme, releasing ammonia from urea in the colon. Simultaneously, certain anaerobic bacteria such as bacteroides, bifidobacterium, aspergillus, ruminococcus, peptostreptococcus, fusobacterium, lactobacillus, streptococcus play a role in fermenting dietary fibres to create short chain fatty acids such as acetate, propionate, and butyrate, which contain the hydrogen atom. This provides the necessary conditions for protonation to occur whereby ammonia takes up a hydrogen atom from the short chain fatty acids and converts into ammonium. This process is known as protonation.