Glutamine is well known for its positive effects on muscle recovery. It may come as a surprise to you if you’re unaware of its significant role in promoting gut health and preventing intestinal diseases. Did you know? It is the major substrate utilised by the intestinal cells.
Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid naturally present in skeletal muscles, human blood, and lungs. It plays physiologically important roles such as in the synthesis of peptides and non-peptides, for eg glutathione and neurotransmitters, the involvement of its metabolism in the immune system and catabolic states, such as sepsis or trauma.
Among the various tissues utilising it, the intestinal cells utilise about 30% of glutamine making it a wonder amino acid for gut health. Supplemental use of L-glutamine (oral, enteral, or parenteral form) increases intestinal villi, gut mucosal cellular, and in maintaining mucosal integrity.
Roles of glutamine in the protection of gastrointestinal mucosal cells
Gastrointestinal mucosa is lined by epithelial cells and receive nutrition from luminal and systematic sources. Under normal conditions, many dietary components, drugs, pathogenic microbes and other factors may cause minor damage to the mucosa. Regulatory peptides, mucosal secretions and microflora jointly help maintain the normal homeostasis in the intestinal tract. The enterocytes (cells of the intestine) is the major site of glucose metabolism and an important dietary component to maintaining gut mucosal integrity.
Any prolonged stress or trauma leads to drop in glutamine levels and cause mucosal atrophy. Oral glutamine supplementation aids in the proliferation of gastrointestinal mucosal cells and prevents atrophy in patients conditionally dependent upon parenteral nutrition (TPN). Therefore, administration of glutamine-rich diet or oral glutamine supplementation protects the gut mucosa from injury and ulcer formation and raise the mucosal and plasma glutathione.
Role of Glutamine in the treatment of Leaky Gut syndrome
GI mucosal epithelium acts as a structural and immunological barrier against the pathogenic microbes and substances.
Any compromised state of intestinal mucosal integrity and breakdown of this protective barrier leads to a condition known as “Leaky Gut Syndrome”.
Factors triggering the increase include oxidative stress, alcohol, antibiotics, hypoxia, inflammatory cytokines, and reduction in pH.
Many pieces of evidence support the fact that its supplementation causes a profound improvement in the functioning of intestinal barrier function in patients under enteral or parenteral nutrition due to cancer, trauma or other conditions.
Regulation of Epithelial junctions
The tight epithelial junctions constitute the major component of the gut barrier function against the penetration macromolecules from the lumen. Leaky gut if left untreated leads to several gastrointestinal diseases such as food allergies, IBD (Irritable Bowel Disease) or IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome).
L- Glutamine in combination with zinc helps restore the tight junction integrity.
In a nutshell, it is a great oxidative fuel for your enterocytes, maintaining gastrointestinal mucosal barrier function and in parenteral nutrition helps in preventing sepsis, infection, radiation and other various catabolic stress conditions.
Kim e al (2017).Supplemental use of glutamine, either in oral, enteral, or parenteral form, increases intestinal villous height, stimulates gut mucosal cellular proliferation, and maintains mucosal integrity.Int. J. Mol. Sci.
Rao and Samak (2012).Role of Glutamine in Protection of Intestinal Epithelial Tight Junctions.Journal of Epithelial Biology and Pharmacology.
Alan L. Miller.Therapeutic Considerations of L-Glutamine: A Review of the Literature.Alternative Medicine Review.