What we know about gut health and how it impacts overall health is constantly growing. We’re also learning about the wide variety of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other nutrients needed to keep it healthy.
One of those nutrients is glutamine. In this article, we’ll talk about the potential link between glutamine and gut health, and how to know if you could benefit from a supplement.
What is Glutamine?
Glutamine is one of the twenty amino acids that work together to form proteins. In the body, glutamine has an important role in cell growth and function.
There are two types of glutamine: L-glutamine and D-glutamine.
Although they’re very similar, L-glutamine is the type you’ll find in food and supplements. When you hear or read anything about glutamine, it’s most likely referring to L-glutamine.
Glutamine is “conditionally essential.” This means that most of the time, your body can make enough on its own. However, there are some conditions that could increase your body’s glutamine requirements.
The Glutamine Gut Health Connection
Glutamine is particularly beneficial in the intestines.
You likely hear about gut health all the time, but it’s not always clear what exactly it means. One key factor to gut health is the strength and integrity of the walls that line the digestive tract.
Glutamine is essential to the growth and function of the cells that make up these walls. These cells make up a barrier that serves two purposes. First, it keeps harmful toxins and bacteria out of the digestive tract. Second, it allows nutrients and other beneficial substances to enter the intestine.
If this barrier is weakened or damaged, your gut health will likely suffer. This can lead to uncomfortable symptoms like gas, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation. Poor gut health can also impact other systems of the body, like the immune system.
Does Glutamine Work for IBS?
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is one of the most common disorders of the digestive tract. Symptoms of IBS include:
Symptoms can be mild for some, but serious enough to interfere with daily life for others.
Although more research needs to be done to determine exactly how and why IBS develops, inflammation and damage to the intestinal wall is common in those who suffer from this condition.
This is where glutamine comes in.
It’s possible that people with IBS have a glutamine deficiency, which contributes to a weak intestinal barrier and poor permeability. Deficiency could occur for a variety of reasons, including stress and illness.
Some studies suggest that taking glutamine could help to restore the integrity of the intestinal wall, and therefore provide relief from some IBS symptoms.
How to Add Glutamine to Your Routine
You can get glutamine through a variety of foods. Some of the most common sources of glutamine include chicken, fish, and dairy.
However, you can also get glutamine through several plant-based foods such as:
Although it’s fairly easy to get glutamine through your diet, it’s difficult to know exactly how much you’re getting. Since glutamine has specific benefits, you may consider taking a supplement to be sure you’re addressing your specific needs.
Should I Supplement Glutamine for Gut Health?
If you have specific concerns or goals that glutamine can specifically improve, a glutamine supplement is the best way to incorporate exactly what you need into your routine.
If your goal is to improve gut health with glutamine, you can combine your supplement with other ingredients known to improve and support gut health. Naked Gut, our gut health supplement, provides seven of these ingredients, including glutamine and three probiotics and prebiotics.
As always, it’s ideal to choose a supplement that provides the necessary ingredients without fillers or additives.
Are there Glutamine Side Effects?
Side effects are possible with any medication or supplement. However, research on short-term use of glutamine for gut health does not indicate any common or serious side effects.
It’s worth noting that there isn’t a ton of research on long-term glutamine supplementation, and more studies are needed to determine any potential side effects.
How Much Glutamine Should I Take for Gut Health
Ultimately, the best dose of glutamine for gut health will depend on your specific needs. According to the Mayo Clinic, generally healthy individuals should take a maximum of 30 grams per day, divided into 6 different doses.
As always, it’s best to work with your healthcare provider to determine the best amount of any supplement to take.
When to Take Glutamine
Your body can make glutamine, where it is eventually stored in the muscle. If you have an active lifestyle that includes a lot of weight training, it’s possible that you’re depleting your glutamine stores faster than your body can replenish them.
Your diet also influences your glutamine stores. Although there are plenty of vegetarian glutamine sources, following a vegetarian diet makes it a little more difficult to get sufficient glutamine on a regular basis.
Although many studies support supplementing on a short-term basis for a specific concern, there’s not enough research at this time to support taking glutamine on a long-term, preventative basis.
If you’re taking glutamine for gut health, it’s commonly recommended that you take your supplement with food. Another common recommendation is to divide your daily dosage into several small doses throughout the day.
The Bottom Line on Glutamine
There is a lot to be learned about glutamine, but the evidence is constantly growing to show just how important it is for gut health.
Although glutamine is made in the body, things like stress, illness, heavy exercise, and diet may lead to deficiency. Deficiency may impact gut health, leading to conditions like IBS.
Taking a glutamine supplement may restore the integrity of the cells in the intestinal wall and improve symptoms of these conditions.