Benefits of Glutamine and L-Glutamine for Your Gut Health

When it comes to gut health, keeping the intestinal epithelium, also known as the lining of the gut, strong is a top priority. This is because the cells of the intestinal epithelium have many important functions: they help digest food, absorb nutrients, and prevent bacteria and other toxins from leaking out of the intestines and into the rest of the body (where they can wreak havoc in the form of bacteria). of infection and inflammation).

“The epithelial cells act like gates, almost like TSA agents: They don’t let everything through,” says gastroenterologist Ali Rezaie, MD, MSc, Medical Director of the Gastrointestinal Motility Program at Cedars-Sinai, Los Angeles and co-author of The Microbiome Connection: Your Guide to IBS, SIBO, and Bottom-Fed Dieting. “But if the epithelial cells are damaged, which we call hyperpermeability or ‘leaky gut,’ then bacteria can enter the body and produce a state of microinflammation.”

Oh yes, the infamous “leaky gut.” That’s where the amino acid glutamine (also known as l-glutamine) comes into play.

The most abundant amino acid in the human body, glutamine is a “building block” for proteins. It is produced naturally by the body (mainly in the muscles) and can also be found in many foods. Glutamine is transported by the blood to tissues throughout the body, including the intestine, where it promotes the regeneration of epithelial cells that serve as a barrier between the intestines and the abdominal cavity. According to Dr. Rezaie, the epithelial cells of the intestine are completely replaced every five to seven days. “This rapid rate of reproduction of these cells depends on glutamine,” he says.

In general, healthy people get all the l-glutamine they need from their body’s natural production and diet, says Dr. Rezaie. However, people with digestive disorders such as celiac disease or Crohn’s disease may need more l-glutamine to keep the intestinal lining in optimal shape compared to those without these conditions. Also, if you suffer from a leaky gut, you may need to increase your l-glutamine intake to restore the intestinal epithelium. “Any time there’s inflammation, now all of a sudden you need a lot of energy to fight that and it increases cell turnover,” says Dr. Rezaie.

foods with glutamine

You most likely already eat glutamine-rich foods on a regular basis. According to Dr. Rezaie, many items in the Mediterranean diet, a primarily plant-based diet that also includes whole grains, seafood, eggs, and lean poultry, are high in glutamine, including fish, chicken, and eggs. People on strictly vegan or vegetarian diets can get their glutamine from the aforementioned whole grains, as well as cruciferous vegetables like cabbage and broccoli. However, for people for whom cruciferous vegetables cause bloating or bloating, Dr. Rezaie recommends two other potent sources of glutamine: carrots and beets.

You can also find glutamine supplements on the market, but according to Dr. Rezaie, supplementation is only recommended in rare situations: for example, a doctor might recommend people who frequently engage in very intense workouts (glutamine can help muscle recovery) or those recovering from an infectious gastrointestinal condition consider this supplement. (One study suggested that glutamine supplementation helped normalize the permeability of the intestinal lining in patients suffering from postinfectious irritable bowel syndrome.) they are following some kind of very restricted diet,” says Dr. Rezaie. Be sure to check with a medical provider before starting any new supplement.

For more expert-backed information on optimal gut health, watch this video:

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