These days it seems like everyone is talking about gut health and how to alter the microbiome for overall health. A lot of things play a role in poor gut health: stress, non-active lifestyle, and most importantly, diet.
Fiber and whole foods are key for a healthy balanced diet and gut, but the typical US diet is lacking in both these realms, placing a greater emphasis on highly processed grains and sugars. Fiber and whole foods are important in the diet not only because they are filled with vitamins and minerals, but because they help keep your digestive system regular.
Another nutrient that has received a lot of attention lately is glutamine, the most abundant amino acid, and its role in gut health. Not only has the research indicated it supports gut health, it also shows positive impacts on the gut-brain-axis.
What is glutamine?
Glutamine is a non-essential amino acid, meaning it can be synthesized in the body and does not have to come from the diet. Sometimes it becomes conditionally essential during periods of stress, requiring an additional intake from the diet.
What is the role of glutamine in the body?
Glutamine is highly concentrated in the gut and is involved in maintaining the gut integrity as well as the lifespan of enterocytes, the cells of the small intestine. More specifically, glutamine is involved in the following:
- Balances the gut microbiome
- Glutamine has the ability to activate protein kinases and growth factors that facilitate intestinal cell proliferation. Intestinal cells have a turnover of about 5 day, which is quite short. By maximizing enterocyte proliferation, glutamine is able to influence DNA/RNA, protein synthesis, and replication of gut cells.
- Promotes tight junction expression (consider this the glue that holds adjacent cells together)
- Tight junctions are extremely important for gut permeability. These semi-permeable junctions allow for needed nutrients to come in/out of the cell while keeping out pathogens. When these junctions begin to loosen, they increase the permeability allowing larger proteins to leak in/out. Diet and lifestyle directly impact the tight junction expression, which is why a balanced diet with fiber and whole foods is so important for overall gut health.
- Protects cells during stress
- Glutamine helps balance proliferation and apoptosis (cell death) of gut cells. An imbalance or dysregulation in cellular function can cause gastrointestinal tract issues resulting in poor nutrient absorption.
How can I incorporate L-Glutamine into my diet?
Supplemental forms of L-glutamine come in powders and can be easily added to drinks, smoothies, yogurts, and more. We recommend adding 2-5 grams to 6-8 oz water, your favorite beverage, or as directed by your healthcare provider. We also recommend taking L-Glutamine after exercise for muscle recovery and each day for intestinal health. **
Deters BJ, Saleem M. The role of glutamine in supporting gut health and neuropsychiatric factors. Food Science and Huamn Wellness. 2021;10:149-154.
Kim MH, Kim H. The roles of glutamine in the intestine and its implications in intestinal disease. Int J Mol. Sci. 2017;18(5).
** These statements have not been evaluated by the food and drug administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.