All amino acids are important in maintaining overall health but one of the most critical ones is glutamine, which is the most abundant free amino acid in the body. This amino acid is also one of the most involved in different bodily functions, including those of the immune, digestive, and nervous systems.
Although the body produces its own supply of glutamine, there are cases when it needs to get it from external sources. By having sufficient levels of glutamine, you can enjoy the following health benefits:
Promotes weight loss -- The body is able to convert glutamine into glucose and use it as an energy source. This reduces the need for carbohydrates, which often leads to cravings and overeating.
Maintains gut wall integrity -- Leaky gut is a disease caused by inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, which commonly occurs when there is too much bad bacteria. When a person has this condition, the food particles are able to leak out of the gut and trigger autoimmune reactions. Glutamine is able to prevent these from happening since it provides the gut cells with the energy that they need to perform functions like maintaining wall integrity.
Improves skin -- If you do not get enough glutamine, the body will start to use its reserves which leads to muscle break down and consequently, sagging of the skin.
Enhances brain function -- Glutamine provides the body with the building blocks that it needs to produce gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). This brain chemical is responsible for stress response, behavior, and cognition. When there are insufficient amounts of it, a person can suffer from schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, and brain fog.
Hastens post-workout recovery --Athletes and exercise buffs can benefit from glutamine since it stimulates glycogen production to make up for those that were burned off during strenuous physical activity.
Boosts the immune system -- Immune cells, especially the T cells and macrophages, need glutamine to function. Moreover, this amino acid's role in improving the integrity of the gastrointestinal wall also has significant effects on the immune system since 70 percent of it is found in the gut.
Reduces complications of cancer therapy -- Cancer treatments like radiation and chemotherapy are very intense processes that have repercussions on a person's health. Studies have shown that taking glutamine effectively reduces the complications that therapy has on metabolism while still preventing tumor growth.
Where to get glutamine
Stressful conditions, lack of sleep, and poor diet can increase the amount of glutamine that the body needs to function. Fortunately, it is easy to get this amino acid either through your food or through supplements. However, supplements are not safe for everyone especially for those who have liver or kidney disease, are pregnant, nursing, or taking medications. Because of this, glutamine-rich foods, such as the following, are still preferred.
Seafood (mussels, seawater fish, shrimps, or crabs)
Organ meats, especially liver
Leafy greens (spinach, cabbage, parsley, kale, or beets)
To keep your body in top shape, make sure that you are getting sufficient levels of glutamine and the other amino acids. Otherwise, you may suffer from various health conditions that could have been easily avoided. (Related: Key amino acids and their important role in your health.)
Symptoms of glutamine deficiency
When the body does not have enough glutamine, it will start to show some signs of a deficiency. If you see the following symptoms, make sure to increase your glutamine intake to prevent complications.
Increased risk of infections
Bowel changes such as diarrhea
Reduced energy levels
For more articles about glutamine and the other amino acids, visit Nutrients.news.