What Is Glutamine?
Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid found in the human body. It plays a role in more metabolic processes than any other amino acid and is crucial for immune function, energy production, protein & glutathione synthesis, and antioxidant status. Sixty percent of glutamine is found in the muscle, making it the tissue with the highest concentration. The lung, liver, brain, and stomach also possess rich concentrations. Glutamine is not only the primary source of fuel used by our intestinal cells it’s a major fuel used by white blood cells. Although we can make glutamine, during times of stress (intense exercise, trauma, shock, illness, various disease states) the body’s need for glutamine rises sharply, surpassing our ability to produce it. These stressors have been shown to cause as much as a 50% drop in blood glutamine levels. Supplementation with glutamine powder has been shown to be a very effective way of countering this depletion and restoring glutamine to normal levels. These are some glutamine-rich foods one should consider incorporating into the diet; soy, sunflower seeds, Chinese cabbage, asparagus, eggs, meats, parmesan cheese, whey & spirulina.
Athletes frequently use glutamine, and for a good reason. For those athletes that train intensely and often for prolonged periods, it’s been shown to assist in muscle cell repair, restore plasma glutamine levels, support immune function, and protect the digestive system. One of the challenges often facing hard training athletes is a condition known as exercise-induced immunosuppression. When training hard so much of one’s bodily resources are devoted to exercise that one’s immune function is compromised. This often results in infection, the most common one being upper respiratory. Immune function isn’t the only system affected; digestive disturbances are quite common. Acid reflux, diarrhea, abdominal cramping & even leaky gut have been shown to afflict many athletes.
Non-Athletic Health Benefits
Aside from the numerous athletic specific benefits that glutamine has to offer it’s also been shown to provide a remarkable number of health benefits for the non-athlete:
- Increases intestinal villous height
- Maintains mucosal integrity
- Prevents intestinal hyperpermeability (aka leaky gut) possibly preventing sepsis (blood infection) n infection in the blood
- Prevents bacterial translocation
- One of the best supplements for treating gastrointestinal conditions like IBS, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s, gastric ulcers and possibly diverticulitis
- Reduces muscle wasting as well as normalizing intestinal permeability while improving intestinal absorption in individuals with HIV and Aids.
- Can help trauma and surgery patients with their recovery
- Reduces post-operative infections by nearly a half
- Decreases the incidence of certain types of infections
- Enhances liver detoxification
- Glutathione (a powerful liver detoxifier and antioxidant) is made in the body from glutamine (glutamic acid), cysteine, and glycine.
- Boosts immune function
Weight Loss & Blood Sugar Regulation
- May help reduce body weight and balance blood sugar and insulin levels
- May stimulate growth hormone production
How much should I take and when?
The recommended dose is betwen 5 – 9 grams daily. If you exercise the ideal time to take it would be with your protein shake after your work out. If you don’t exercise it shouldn’t matter when you take it. For therapeutic use (like IBS) higher doses of 20 – 40 grams a day may be indicated.
What to look for in a quality glutamine Supplement?
Ensure you’re getting pure l-glutamine-free of artificial flavors, colors, sweeteners and genetically engineered ingredients. Ensure the l-glutamine is a free-form amino acid and not a glutamine peptide. Although glutamine peptides have been shown to work, they are typically sourced from wheat and may have trace amounts of gluten. L-glutamine that is made through the bacterial fermentation of vegetables will be free of gluten. Given the important gut benefits, this amino acid has to offer gluten free should be the obvious choice. Look for glutamine that is micronized. Micronization is a cutting-edge processing technology which breaks up regular l-glutamine into a micro-fine powder. This new micronized structure increases solubility allowing for better absorption.
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