Glutamine for Digestive Health & Leaky Gut

By: Byron J. Richards, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist
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A scientific workshop on amino acids focused on the vital need for adequate glutamine1. Of particular importance is the effect glutamine has on rapidly dividing cells, boosting up cell volume and antioxidant status and providing nutritional support for the synthesis of new RNA and DNA so that cells can multiply. This is vital for maintaining a healthy digestive tract lining, as daily cell turnover and digestive inflammation dramatically increase the need for glutamine. Leaky gut occurs when the body fails to sufficiently produce new digestive structure cells, of which glutamine is the primary amino acid.

Glutamine is also vital to muscular health. In times of increased need, muscle glutamine is sent to the digestive tract, weakening the muscles to maintain digestive health. Likewise, muscles can be broken down to bolster the immune system with glutamine. In some ways, the body views muscle-derived glutamine as an important savings account for other health needs. 

Ongoing digestive issues combined with muscle fatigue indicate a high likelihood that extra supplemental glutamine would be of value. Additionally, insufficient glutamine creates a risk for poor immunity, poor glucose metabolism, premature cell death, and poor cellular stress tolerance.

Of course, glutamine supplementation is also of extreme value in situations of acute trauma2 and for those with compromised health.

Researchers believe that up to 30 grams of glutamine may be needed in times of very high stress to maintain optimal glutamine levels. I find that for most people with ongoing digestive issues, doses of 6 to 9 grams per day can really help turn a problem around.

Referenced Studies:
  1. ^ The Many Uses of Glutamine  Journal of Nutrition  Erich Roth
  2. ^ Times of Increased Glutamine Need  Journal of Nutrition  Jan Wernerman

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