Glutamine is a nutrient that is involved in numerous biochemical processes that impact our immune system, muscles, digestion and other GI processes. Glutamine is an amino acid, a building block of protein, naturally found in food and in the body. Extreme exercise, infection, surgery, and trauma are all known to deplete our body’s glutamine stores, particularly in our muscle cells.
Glutamine is often used as a supplement for individuals with:
- Leaky Gut
- Ulcerative colitis
- Crohn’s Disease
- Nerve pain
- Stomach ulcers
- Athletic performance treatment
Glutamine and the Gut
The small intestine is the primary organ of glutamine use. Glutamine feeds the cells of the GI lining. This uses about 20-30% of our glutamine. Individuals with a ‘stressed gut’ should consider glutamine supplementation, as it is an essential component for the maintenance of gut metabolism, and function especially during trauma or when the stability of the gut wall is compromised. The gut can be compromised as a result of the following:
- Consuming Trigger foods (foods your are allergic, or sensitive to. Often gluten, dairy, or soy)
- Excessive sugar intake
- Leaky gut
- Overuse of antibiotics
- Chronic Inflammation
- Environmental Pollutants/Toxins
…And these are just a few!
Glutamine supplementation is a support to the healing process and works to regenerate and repair the cells of the intestine. Because glutamine is the primary fuel for the cells of the intestine, high quality L-Glutamine can be absorbed directly into the cells- and the healing begins!
Glutamine and the rest of the body
Because our immune and intestinal cells rely on glutamine for energy, an individual who is deficient may experience fatigue as our cells become drained and functionality decreases. As cell function decreases, the inability to complete the necessary processes required to maintain optimal health causes our immune system to weaken, increasing the risk of infection and the common cold. This process is exacerbated during times of stress, trauma, chronic injury, or extreme exercise.
Glutamine is an essential component in the process of detoxing, as is helps to remove excess ammonia. It also plays a role in maintaining proper immune and brain function. Glutamine increases the production of Gamma-Amino Butyric Acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that has a calming effect on the body and mind during stressful situations, permitting improved concentration and enhanced sleep.
Where to Find Glutamine in our Diet
Some of the best sources include:
- Dark leafy greens
- Raw Parsley
- Ricotta Cheese
- Cottage Cheese
If you think supplemental glutamine may be something to consider, talk to your functional dietitian! Anyone with a compromised gut would benefit from glutamine supplementation. It comes in a powder form that can be added to smoothies, soups, or any drink. You can also click on supplements (above) and see my “heal your gut” powder-it is 100% glutamine.