Glutamine is short for glutamic acid. It’s one of the twenty amino acids that compose our standard 'genetic code' – set of rules that DNA and RNA follow in order to manufacture proteins for use by the cells in our body. Glutamine is the most plentiful amino acid present in our body, found in the blood and muscle.
Essential amino acids cannot be manufactured by the body and must be taken through diet. Glutamine is considered non-essential, or conditionally essential, because adequate amounts of it can be produced in a healthy body. However, during critical illnesses, or in conditions when significant muscle loss occur, glutamine supply may be inadequate on par with demand.
Glutamine was first used in powder form by people who were aiming to lose weight fast, or athletes who were looking to burn fat and build muscle. But, new studies are revealing more benefits of this amino acid, including in treating leaky gut and boosting overall health.
Glutamine at a glance
- It is an essential amino acid that our body needs in large amounts
- Promotes athletic performance, muscle growth, digestive health, brain health, and more
- Combats high blood sugar and cancer
- Are present in both animal and plant proteins
- Available as supplements
What are the differences between glutamine, D-glutamine and L-glutamine?
D-glutamine is nothing but glutamine only. To put it simply, amino acids can have 2 “shapes,” known as isomers. So, there are L isomers and D isomers. According to scientific studies, glutamine and L-glutamine are the mirror images of each other. Now, about L and D glutamine, L is for the left side and D the Dexter (right-hand side). If you’re buying a glutamine supplement, remember all glutamine supplements are L-glutamine, if anyone is trying to sell you D-glutamine, watch out!
Typically, the best dosage is between 2 to 5 grams twice daily, and up to 10 grams daily for serious power athletes.
Supplements and dosages
Majority of people do not get enough glutamine from diet alone. Therefore, supplementing your diet with glutamine is a superb way to improve your immune system and boost your ability to combat infection and diseases.
Athletes aiming to improve muscle mass, should avoid taking more than 40 g of glutamine per day. For serious athletes, the best dosage is between 2-5 g twice daily (up to 10 g daily). Supplements can be found in powder and capsule form. People usually prefer powder form over capsule because one small scoop can provide a bigger dosage, and when it is mixed with liquid, it is virtually tasteless.
What are the health benefits of glutamine?
New studies show that glutamine helps our body in following ways:
- Promotes muscle growth and reduces muscle loss
- Improves gastrointestinal health
- Boosts athletic performance and endurance exercise recovery
- In the brain it acts as an essential neurotransmitter and aids memory, concentration and focus.
- Helps heal leaky gut and ulcers by acting as a shield to prevent further damage
- Improves Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and diarrhea by stabilizing mucus production, which brings about healthy bowel movements
- Improves diabetes and blood sugar
- Boosts metabolism and cellular detoxification
- Fights cancer
- Restrains cravings for sugar and alcohol
Improves energy and athleticism
Glutamine plays a crucial role in detoxifying the body by cleansing it from high levels of ammonia. An hour of exercise can send your body back to losing 40% of glutamine. Your body may also experience suppressed immune function, which has an adverse effect on your resistance exercise.
Glutamine helps athletes by boosting the T-helper cells in the immune system. Animal studies have shown that the increase in T-helper cells may lower the stress linked to overtraining syndrome.
Burns fat and improves metabolism
Glutamine helps with human growth hormone secretion (HGH), which benefits fat metabolism and backs new muscle growth.
Studies have shown that HGH levels shoots up almost 400% after taking glutamine supplements. This response results in an increase in resting metabolic rate and enhances the after-burn effect. This after-burn effect is necessary for fat burning, weight loss and building lean muscle mass.
Heals leaky gut and boosts immunity
Leaky gut syndrome affects millions of people, and is the primary cause of autoimmune disease. Leaky gut can lead to thyroid disorders, arthritis, skin disorders like psoriasis and other serious health problems.
Glutamine is the primary fuel source for cells inside the small intestine. Clinical studies have shown that glutamine can heal leaky gut. A study published in the Lancet investigated 20 hospital patients and discovered that glutamine supplements reduced their intestinal permeability. Another study, conducted on animal models and published in the British Journal of Surgery, showed that glutamine helps to alleviate symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease ulcerative colitis.
So the bottom line is glutamine is beneficial for your health if you are suffering from any form of digestive disorder such as irritable bowel disease, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, diverticulitis, diverticulosis, leaky gut or any of problems linked with leaky gut (e.g. joint pain, rosacea or any autoimmune response). And on a regular basis you should include this amino acid in your diet.
For example, if you suffering from an underactive thyroid or Hashimoto’s disease, glutamine should be included in your hypothyroidism diet. If you have IBS symptoms like ulcerations or constant diarrhea, glutamine should be part of your IBS diet.
Speed up wound healing in postoperative patients
A 2001 study investigated glutamine’s benefit on patients who underwent surgery. Patients receiving glutamine supplements intravenously displayed improvement in nitrogen balance in their bodies. Glutamine also increased glutamine concentration in their skeletal muscle and improved protein synthesis. Other studies suggested glutamine supplements can reduce length of hospital stay in postoperative patients.
Are there side effects associated with taking glutamine?
While studies have not found adverse side effects linked with consuming glutamine, experts’ advice is to take it moderately, as with supplements, too much isn’t a good idea.
What are the best natural sources of glutamine?
Glutamine is present in animal proteins such as meats and dairy, and in plant-based protein including raw spinach, beans, parsley and red cabbage. It should also be noted that animal proteins aren’t as easily digestible as plant proteins.
These foods have the most glutamine benefits:
- Bone Broth
- Grass-fed beef
- Chinese cabbage
- Cottage cheese
- Broccoli raab
- Wild caught fish such as tuna, cod and salmon
Experts say, whether you’re aiming for lean muscle mass, boost athletic performance or improve condition such as diabetes or leaky gut, you should make glutamine a part of your daily diet. You’ll soon start to see and feel the difference.
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