What is glutamine?
L-glutamine is our body’s most abundant amino acid, and amino acids are the building blocks of protein.
We need protein for our bodies to function properly, and since glutamine is the most abundant amino acid we have to build it… glutamine is vitally important to our health.
What does glutamine do?
Glutamine has many functions in the body. These include:
- Hormone production
- Neurotransmitter production
- Muscle growth
- Immune system function
- Anti-inflammatory properties
- Gut health improvement
All of the processes that glutamine is involved in are necessary for running a healthy body.
Hormones are the signals that direct the functions of the body, and without them… we wouldn’t last very long.
Neurotransmitters are compounds that can sometimes act like hormones, but they are not the same thing. These powerful chemical messengers are needed to regulate survival and emotional responses in the body.
Glutamine’s role in muscle growth is vital, especially when it comes to post-workout muscle recovery and healing from harsh injuries.
First up: let’s dive into inflammation and gut health.
Glutamine and gut health
First off: just imagine how stressed people are, and it’s no wonder why people today have digestive problems.
Since stress is inevitable, I believe the most important quality glutamine contains is the ability to lower inflammation, specifically in the digestive tract.
When glutamine is supplemented, it has the ability to go directly to the intestinal lining and help lower inflammation in our gut that can be caused by poor diet, genetics, and even years of antibiotic use.
Glutamine and Leaky Gut Syndrome
L-glutamine also has the ability to lower gut inflammation by helping leaky gut syndrome.
In this instance, it doesn’t matter how good someone’s diet is. If they have a leaky gut, their small intestines cannot absorb the nutrients properly, and the person can end up malnourished all the same.
This phenomenon is called “leaky” gut because it results in particles entering the bloodstream through the small intestines that should not be passing through.
These particles are larger than the body is used to handling in the blood, and causes all types of chronic inflammatory responses… including in the gut wall itself, since that’s where the particles pass through.
Leaky gut causes
This condition occurs when inflammation from the breakdown of processed food ingredients causes holes in the lining of the digestive tract. This can lead to the opening of tight gap junctions, or passages located in our intestines.
The tight gap junctions are extremely important because they help food become absorbed properly through the villi in the intestinal lining.
This is a process that, when done properly, allows our body the ability to actually absorb the nutrients foods can give us when we eat them. And remember: the only reason we eat food is for the nutrients they possess.
Nutrients like Vitamin B12, Vitamin C, magnesium, and Omega 3 DHA help our bodies function better because vitamins, amino acids, and antioxidants are what are body needs in order to produce hormones, neurotransmitters, and even energy like ATP.
Most of the foods we eat are not as rich in nutrients as we think, and if we continue to eat foods high in corn oil, soybean, sunflower seeds, peanuts, and nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, peppers and mushrooms) we will continue to damage the lining of our gut leading to an opening of these tight gap junctions.
L-glutamine acts like glue by patching these holes back together so our digestion and absorption can be restored. That’s why I believe L-glutamine should be taken on a daily basis because EVERYONE eats those types of foods!
And if you don’t think you do… just read your nutritional labels.
Should you take a glutamine supplement?
For the anti-inflammatory reason alone, I tell people to supplement with glutamine, even if that person is taking a probiotic.
After all, how is the gut supposed to provide us with a healthy gut flora if our digestive tract is always inflamed?
Gut supplements can seem limited, and there are several food sources that can be beneficial. These include:
But sometimes incorporating these into your diet is not enough.
Although we should get all of our nutrients from our diet, even the healthiest of farm to table diets might still cause a nutritional deficiency. The soil we use, the ways foods have been modified to taste better… both of these things leas to fruits and vegetables that have fewer nutrients than their ancestors.
Vitamin deficiencies can lead to serious health issues such as depression, brain inflammation, muscle wasting, heart inflammation and even lack of energy production.
L-glutamine is involved in all of these cycles, but in order to get the end result out of each process, essential B vitamins like B6, B5, B9, and even B12 are needed as cofactors to help our bodies use glutamine for benefits.
Glutamine combined with such vitamins like B6 pyridoxal, can increase our body’s ability to produce Serotonin, Dopamine, and most importantly, GABA.
These are all neurotransmitters, but GABA is different than Serotonin and Dopamine, because it’s one of the few neurotransmitters we produce that helps our bodies achieve parasympathetic mode in our nervous system.
When our bodies are in parasympathetic mode, our bodies are relaxed and calm. In parasympathetic mode, our digestive tract goes into “rest and digest” mode, which will enhance our body’s ability to produce gut motility, or movement.
Glutamine and the Immune System
Another hugely important job of glutamine is the energy it provides to the immune system.
L-glutamine fuels leukocytes, the white blood cells involved in fighting infections in the body.
Leukocytes provides our immune system with the energy it needs in order to function, so it is vital that we have an abundant supply of glutamine circulating throughout the body.
This is just another reason why glutamine is our body’s most abundant amino acid.
Other important functions of glutamine
Glutamine is a precursor to Glutathione, our body’s strongest antioxidant.
When athletes ask me about putting on lean muscle mass, getting a flatter stomach, or even bigger pec muscles, it’s rare that they’re thinking about a supplement that would help heal their gut and lower inflammation.
However, glutamine is great for muscle tissue repair and maintenance. This is important for athletes - especially in endurance athletes - whose levels can be depleted in due to over-training. (1.)
If we constantly exercise, then we are constantly producing free radicals, which are byproducts of metabolism that will cause direct damage to healthy circulating cells.
When our body has sufficient amounts of circulating glutamine, our body can produce more antioxidants like glutathione to help repair damaged muscle tissue and collagen.
And if that same athlete is eating nothing but meat and protein to help them build muscle, then the glutamine they supplement could help lower inflammation in the digestive tract so that person could actually absorb their protein and turn it into muscle tissue.
Glutamine helps athletes from a hormonal perspective, too.
When fat cells around our belly become inflamed, it’s usually around the outer body near our digestive tract since swelling is noticeable when a body part is injured or inflamed.
Those inflamed fat cells will produce estrone, and inflammatory estrogen that has been linked to certain cancers and disease. This increase in estrogen will lower a man’s natural production of testosterone, which is the exact opposite of what that person is trying to accomplish in the gym.
An inflamed gut leads to inflamed fat cells that will produce inflammatory estrogen which is also bad for a woman who still produces healthy estrogen, known as estradiol.
The overproduction of estrone will cause that woman to go into menopause a lot sooner than expected.
Fixing or healing the gut will promote better digestive health, which means less inflammation around your belly, which means you will lose weight and inches when you are trying to lose weight.
If you don’t fix the gut, you will never lose that last 10-15lbs around your belly.
Final thoughts on the benefits of Glutamine
So what’s the take from this?
Just know that L-glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in our body and we need it in order to produce neurotransmitters, better hormones, energy and to lower inflammation.
The side effects of taking glutamine could be weight loss, a flatter stomach, better functioning brain, a better digestive tract and even better sleep.
Why wouldn’t you supplement with glutamine?
(3): https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780857090379500114?via%3Dihub (PREBIOTICS and inflammation)