Should You Use Glutamine to Heal Your Gut?

Graphic of a leaky gut in peach color with bandaids indicating healing a leaky gut for the glutamine for leaky gut post by The Healthy RD
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Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the body and it helps to heal a leaky gut.

While it is considered a nonessential or conditionally essential amino acid, glutamine plays a big role in gut health. 

Our bodies make glutamine and we need a ready supply of it at all times. However, under stressful conditions or imbalances in our diet, our bodies use more glutamine than we can make on our own. 

There are several kinds of glutamine, but L-glutamine is the primary form in our bodies.

In this post, learn about how glutamine can potentially help your gut health and more.

What Does Glutamine Do?

L glutamine powder on a light green background with a blue bottle for the L-glutamine for leaky gut post by The Healthy RD

Glutamine is a primary source of energy for our intestinal cells.

A high protein diet will typically provide up to 3 grams of glutamine per day from dietary sources such as meats, chicken, bone broth, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, and legumes.

Our bodies store about 1 gram of glutamine per kilogram of body weight.  So a person weighing 70 kg has about 70 grams of glutamine stored in the body. 

Immune cells also rely on glutamine for energy. Under stressful situations, our body uses more glutamine than we can make.

Known causes of low glutamine levels are:

  • Infections
  • Surgery
  • Burns
  • Exercise
  • Malnutrition
  • Inflammatory conditions
  • Leaky gut

As you can see, it can be easy to deplete your body’s pools under stressful situations. 

How Does Glutamine Help Heal Leaky Gut?

L-glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the gut. A lack of it may cause a leaky gut. 

If you have a leaky gut, unwanted and undigested food particles enter the bloodstream. These unwanted particles damage the health of the body and mind according to the renowned researcher, Dr. Fasano as published in the Annals of New York Academy of Science

Research shows that leaky gut is reduced by supplemental glutamine when given to people who have intestinal infections. 

Glutamine also helps restore tight junction proteins in the gut so it makes sense that it may heal leaky gut symptoms

Using glutamine powder also improves gut health by reducing inflammatory compounds in the gut. By doing so, glutamine also supports a healthy intestinal lining.

As the primary energy source for your intestinal cells, glutamine helps improve cell functions of the gut cells.

Supplements for leaky gut like glutamine aren’t the only thing to focus on, however. You should also follow the best gut-healing diet as well.

Other Glutamine Benefits

Infographic of the benefits of l-glutamine outlined in this post including helping heal a leaky gut, helping allergies, asthma, immunity, muscle recovery, weight management, muscle repair, and helps IBS. It also describes how to take L-glutamine 2-5 grams twice daily with B-vitamins and to use glutamine powder and sip on it slowly on an empty stomach by The Healthy RD

Glutamine has many potential health benefits. This is because it is such a predominant amino acid in the body.

Using glutamine may help:

Resolve glutamine deficiency related to genetic causes or stress. A glutamine deficiency can also be a cause of IBS symptoms according to Medical News Today. 

Aid muscle recovery: Glutamine is a popular supplement for athletes because helps with both muscle recovery and reducing GI symptoms during strenuous exercise. It helps with recovery but it is not helpful for muscle gain.  Some anecdotal evidence suggests it may help older people gain muscle strength.  

Reduce muscle fatigue: by increasing glycogen synthesis and reducing ammonia accumulation in muscle tissue.

Help reduce small intestine bacterial overgrowth: Glutamine reduces the growth of harmful bacteria in the intestines according to early research work published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology. It also reduces symptoms of SIBO as well in people with IBS.

Improve skin health: by increasing collagen production in the skin.

Reduce IBS symptoms: Irritable bowel symptoms after intestinal infection is common. Not surprisingly these symptoms are alleviated by supplemental glutamine. Specifically, glutamine reduces diarrhea and a leaky gut in people with IBS.  Using it for IBS is safe and the benefits are pretty clear according to numerous research studies.

Help with weight loss: some clinical research shows that glutamine aids in weight loss by supporting glucose metabolism. and may even reduce inches on the waist   A review study of 25 studies concluded that glutamine indeed helps people with weight management.

Supports healthy immunity: glutamine is a preferred fuel source for immune system cells. These cells include lymphocytes. Glutamine also helps increase the production of immune cells.  For a healthy immune system, it is important to have enough glutamine in the body. 

Reduce sugar cravings:  Glutamine increases muscle glucose use and may reduce elevated insulin levels as well. Experts are not sure whether l glutamine for sugar cravings works, but it may for its ability to help the body use glucose.  Eating protein and amino acids like glutamine generally does reduce the intake of sugar, so it stands to reason that it might reduce sugar cravings too. 

May reduce alcohol cravings and reduce alcohol intake but more research is needed.  

May help Type 2 Diabetes: by increasing the body’s use of glucose and lowering serum insulin.

May help asthma and reduce allergy symptoms by decreasing inflammation in the airways.

What is the Best Form of Glutamine to Supplement?

By far the best form of glutamine is the powder form.

Capsule forms of glutamine often have undesired additives.

Additionally, if you take glutamine capsules, you will have to take a lot of them to achieve a beneficial dose.

Avoid buying glutamine with protein powder because certain amino acids compete with glutamine for absorption.  

When buying glutamine supplements, quality should be a big factor in your decision.  Your supplements should be pure and should be: 

  • Good manufacturing practices (GMP) certified (third-party tested)
  • Free of synthetic additives
  • No protein powder in them
  • Organic when possible

How Much Glutamine to Take?

Research typically studies doses of glutamine between 2-5 grams twice daily.

However, doses as high as 20-30 grams per day have been safely used short term.

Glutamine works best if you mix it in water and slowly sip on it with an empty stomach.

Risks of Glutamine Supplements

If you take insulin, make sure to check with your healthcare provider before taking L-glutamine supplements. This is because L-glutamine may reduce blood sugar levels.

There is some controversy about its use in people who have cancer. Some research shows it helps in recovery from cancer and other research shows it may fuel cancer cells.

Research doesn’t indicate that glutamine increases cancer risk, however.

And while some research suggests that glutamine could be a risk for people with kidney disease, one study found that supplemental glutamine helped improve kidney function. It even may reduce the kidney injury associated with heart surgery. The truth is, more research is needed.

If you have Reye’s disease, you should avoid taking glutamine supplements.

Also, it makes sense to get adequate B-vitamins because they help the body metabolize and use amino acids like glutamine.

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