Gut health plays an important role in digestion and immunity. Studies have also shown that it may have an effect on mood and overall health. “Gut health” is a term used to describe the function and balance of bacteria in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.
In a healthy digestive tract, the esophagus, stomach, and intestines all work together to allow you to eat and digest food without discomfort. Unfortunately, that’s not the case for the estimated 70 million people in the U.S. with digestive diseases.
You’ve probably heard of taking probiotics to promote gut health, but have you heard about glutamine?
What is Glutamine?
Glutamine, or L-glutamine, is an amino acid. Usually, when people think of amino acids, they think of the building blocks of protein, or what’s needed to build and repair muscle.
Amino acids help synthesize protein in the human body. They can be found in both animal and plant foods that contain protein. Consequently, protein is an essential nutrient for good health.
Glutamine is a nonessential amino acid. Essential amino acids have to be consumed through food, while the nonessential, like glutamine, are produced by the body. Under normal conditions, the body is able to produce enough glutamine to meet most of its needs.
Glutamine is found in ample amounts in your muscles and blood, but it may be depleted during prolonged and intense exercise. Supplementing or eating foods with glutamine may promote gut health, improve exercise endurance, and help preserve muscle mass.
How Does Glutamine Benefit Gut Health?
Research has shown that glutamine plays an important role in maintaining gut health. Along with supporting a robust gut microbiome, tissues in the intestine use glutamine as an energy source to promote proper gastrointestinal function.
Glutamine also appears to have a role in maintaining proper barriers within the intestine by regulating tight junctions. Tight junctions are complex proteins in the body that prevent leakage of solutes and water between the epithelial cells.
Additionally, glutamine promotes intestinal cell reproduction, suppresses inflammation, and protects cells against cell death and stress during normal and pathologic conditions.
Digestive disorders can occur when the proper functioning of the GI tract is disrupted. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is one of the most common digestive disorders.
Symptoms of IBS may include:
- general irregularity
- chronic stomach upset
- white mucus in stool
Glutamine may help people who experience symptoms of IBS regularly. Some experts believe that IBS could be due to a glutamine deficiency.
Glutamine deficiencies can occur for several reasons including trauma, major infections, vigorous exercise, radiation or chemotherapy, and significant stress. Low consumption of glutamine in the diet can also decrease your levels.
How to Include Glutamine in Your Diet
As a nonessential amino acid, glutamine is already produced by the body, but it can also be consumed through your diet.
If you have digestive issues like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), or simply want to maintain a healthy gut, eating a diet rich in glutamine may help.
Sources of glutamine include both plant-based and animal proteins like chicken, fish, dairy, tofu, cabbage, spinach, beets, peas, lentils, and beans.
You can increase your glutamine intake by eating more protein. To ensure you are getting enough protein in your diet, try incorporating these foods into each of your meals and snacks throughout the day.
If you are still having difficulty getting enough protein in your diet, and therefore enough glutamine, you can supplement your diet with a glutamine powder like Naked Glutamine. It’s only ingredient is L-Glutamine that is naturally fermented from plant sources, and it’s free from any artificial additives.
Glutamine powder can be added to water, sports drinks, or fruit juices. It works best to support gut health when taken every day, either in the morning or at night.
A healthy digestive system is important for many aspects of your health and wellness. Your gut health can affect your digestion, immune function, and mood.
You can support your gut health by consuming probiotics daily (either in food or supplements). Getting adequate glutamine in your diet can also benefit gut health.