What is Glutamine?
Glutamine is a unique amino acid that performs many important functions within the body. As a building block of protein, it is the most abundant amino acid in the body and plays a crucial role in the immune system. In fact, gut microbiome health depends on it. Though the body naturally produces this amino acid, eating more foods high in glutamine or supplementing with nutritional glutamine may be needed during times of stress. This is when this non-essential amino acid becomes conditionally essential.
When is Glutamine Best Taken?
If you’ve been feeling ill, your gut microbiome is most likely involved because this is where the majority of your immune system resides. It is the foundation of your entire health, and an unbalanced gut microbiome has been proven to effect health negatively. Research has shown that a poor gut microbiome is linked to chronic inflammatory conditions and autoimmune disease. Therefore, healing the gut will heal the body and this can be done with an immunonutrient like glutamine.
Glutamine, is a special nutrient with immunological and pharmacological effects when consumed in amounts above the daily requirement. In other words, it is immune-enhancing and very beneficial during times of great stress. Supplementation with glutamine is especially important for people with immunodeficiency, virus, overwhelming infections, and malnutrition.
What are Glutamine’s Benefits for Gut Microbiome?
As an important energy source for your gut and immunity, glutamine provides several health benefits for the gut microbiome. As mentioned earlier, the majority of your immune system resides in your gut. This is due to the many intestinal cells with immune functions. Plus, trillions of bacteria live in your gut that impact your immune health. Following are a few of the benefits for gut health.
Glutamine protects your body from leaky gut. It helps maintain the barrier between your intestines and the rest of your body. This barrier prevents toxins such as bacteria from moving from your intestines into your bloodstream which can poison the rest of your body.
Glutamine is a precursor for glutathione. Concentrations of glutathione are suboptimal in chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and liver disease. Glutamine is easily converted to glutamic acid and produces the antioxidant glutathione which helps reduce symptoms of inflammation and protect against the damaging effects of oxidative stress. (Note: Glutamine can only do this if the body had an adequate amount of the amino acids, cysteine and glycine, so you may need to have your levels checked before taking glutamine if you are chronically ill.)
Glutamine plays an important role in cell-mediated immunity and the integrity of the intestinal mucosa. As mentioned earlier, severe stress depletes glutamine stores. Supplementation during illness increases the gut barrier and lymphocyte function while preserving lean body mass.
What Foods are High in Glutamine?
You may want to supplement your diet when you’re under a lot of physical or mental stress to protect or heal your gut. You may do this with foods that are rich in glutamine or through a nutritional supplement. Following is a list of healthy foods high in glutamine as well as high quality supplements.
Foods High in Glutamine
- Bone broth (i.e., beef, chicken, lamb, veal, chicken)
- Meat (i.e., beef, buffalo, game)
- Poultry (i.e., chicken, turkey, ostrich)
- Seafood (i.e., crab, shrimp, mollusk, lobster)
- Cheese (i.e., cottage, cream, mozzarella parmesan, provolone)
- Seeds (sesame, sunflower)
- Vegetables (i.e., asparagus, broccoli raab, Chinese cabbage, chives, tomato,
- Seaweed (i.e., spirulina)
High Quality Glutamine Supplements
How Much Glutamine Should I Take?
The level of glutamine you should take totally depends on your current health condition, and you should always consult your practitioner before taking a supplement – especially if you have a medical condition.
Whether taken in its free form or as part of a complete protein, studies have shown that glutamine is equally bioavailable. Oral glutamine increases plasma glutamine levels effectively. Studies have shown that a dose of 50 grams of glutamine per day has no adverse effects when taken for several weeks. However, an observed safety limit has been set at 14 grams per day for long-term use. The most typical dose people take ranges from five to 30 grams per day.
Following are some tips based on dosage research. Note that certain situations require intravenous or feeding tube, but I want to show you that glutamine is effective for a large range of conditions. If you do have one of the more serious conditions that require this type of administration, you may want to discuss using this as a treatment with your practitioner.
Glutamine for patients with systemic inflammatory response syndrome: A parenteral dose (intravenous) of 0.4 grams per kilogram of bodyweight per day significantly decreases leukocyte and natural killer cell count, thereby suppressing inflammation.
Glutamine for critically ill patients: Administration of enteral nutrition (feeding tube) with a glutamine enriched formula (30.5 grams of glutamine with 100 grams of protein) results in a significant decrease of pneumonia, bacteremia, and sepsis.
If you’ve been under the weather or feeling overly stressed, you may want to include glutamine in your diet. It will help protect and heal your gut microbiome, hence boosting your immunity. You may obtain glutamine from certain foods or nutritional supplementation. To learn more about your gut microbiome, please read Protecting Your Microbiome for Better Gut Health.