Wow! Who isn’t under stress these days with all the job and covid interruptions? Maybe you’ve been creative and been able to work out at home, but either way your protein needs to increase under stress, to maintain muscle tissue particularly when it comes to strengthening your immune system. And remember that the normal, healthy, balanced bacteria in our gastrointestinal system (or guts for short) is the basis for our immune system. Enter one of the most critically important amino acids for your immune system, muscle tissue, and your gut biome: Glutamine.
While glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the body, it’s a “go to” amino acid when any type of stress is increased. Therefore, the body’s stores and production can quickly run low. Supplementing your glutamine levels with a glutamine supplement or a protein drink (the Lean Body RTDs and protein powder formulas are all excellent examples of glutamine fortified proteins) is now more critical than ever before. Here’s why.
Muscle Growth and Recovery
As previously mentioned, glutamine is an amino acid, which are the components used to build proteins. Considering how prevalent glutamine is in muscle, it makes sense that giving your body more of the necessary building blocks (specifically the most prevalent one) will improve your ability to pack on and maintain lean tissue.
Taking glutamine can also help you preserve muscle when you are exercising frequently. This can also lead to a reduction in delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), leaving you more prepared for your next training stimulus.
A major part of our immunity and our ability to fight off viruses and bacteria comes from our white blood cells (WBCs). However, research has shown that stress and or intense exercise can actually damage some of our WBCs, potentially leaving us more susceptible to getting sick. A recent study confirmed that WBCs remained healthy and intact with glutamine supplementation relative to the control group.1 Other supplements known to fortify our abilities to resist virus and bacterial infections include vitamins D, C, Zinc and melatonin.
For many, diet and lifestyle choices have wreaked havoc on gut health. Low fiber, processed foods, alcohol, medications, and stress can all inflict damage to gut integrity and to the healthy balance of bacteria in our gut. These types of stressors deplete glutamine stores in our body. However, by taking supplemental glutamine, studies have shown that we can protect the healthy gut bacteria that is responsible for much of our immunity, maintain the integrity of the intestinal lining which will minimize “leaky gut” problems, and reduce accumulated gut inflammation that is caused by previously mentioned stressors.2,3
The connection between the gut and the brain has been a popular topic in the research community. Gut inflammation and imbalances of gut bacteria can actually influence brain chemistry, as several important neurotransmitters are made in the gut. It is for this reason that glutamine indirectly supports and preserves optimal brain chemistry, which supports better moods, less depression and better brain function. Optimal gut health will optimize brain health!
Nowadays, whether fending off the latest variant of covid 19 or resisting the common cold or disease, everybody should want a stronger immune system. If you’re wondering how much glutamine you should be taking, the answer can vary! Many of the research studies on glutamine use anywhere from fifteen to thirty grams. I think that you can intuitively decide what’s best for you. For maintenance, 5-10 grams daily should do the trick, however, if you’re feeling rundown or like you’re not recuperating from your normal activities the same, you may want to temporarily increase your daily dose.
In regard to the best time of day to take glutamine, I have two answers for you. If you feel the need to boost your gut health or to optimize it in general, taking glutamine in water first thing when you wake up will maximize its absorption and gut healing effects. Another great time for your daily glutamine would be during your workout. Quickly restoring the building blocks you use in you training will maximize recovery and reduce muscle soreness. Additionally, glutamine can be converted to sugar in the muscle during times of intense training when your body produces a lot of lactic acid, and this will benefit your workout. Splitting up your daily dose of glutamine to accommodate for gut and performance maybe even better yet!
Overall, glutamine is a cost-effective way of covering many bases of your health and it’s definitely worth a closer look.
- 1. Cury-Boaventura MF, Levada-Pires AC, Folador A, et al. Effects of exercise on leukocyte death: prevention by hydrolyzed whey protein enriched with glutamine dipeptide. Eur J Appl Physiol. Jun 2008;103(3):289-294.
- 2. De, A. Z., Zambom, A. Z., Abboud, K. Y., Reis, S. K., Tannihão, F., Guadagnini, D., . . . Prada, P. O. (2015, June). Oral supplementation with L-glutamine alters gut microbiota of obese and overweight adults: A pilot study. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25933498
- 3. van der Hulst, B.K. van Kreel, M.F. von Meyenfeldt, R.J. Brummer, J.W. Arends, N.E. Deutz, P.B. Soeters. Glutamine and the preservation of gut integrity. Lancet, 341 (1993), pp. 1363-1365
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Disclaimer: This content is for informational purposes only and is not meant as medical advice, nor is it to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Please consult your physician before starting or changing your diet or exercise program. Any use of this information is at the sole discretion and responsibility of the user.