Most people have never heard of glutamine, an amino acid that functions to improve your health in many ways. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins and we need proteins for everyday health. Glutamine has many functions that can be considered anti-aging functions. In other words, it can improve our health, quality of life and possibly help us to live longer.
Here’s a list of some of the benefits glutamine provides:
Strengthens the Immune System: Glutamine boost your immune system, which improves your ability to fight infection and decreases excess inflammation. Some say the aging process is a process of excess inflammation. As we get older, our ability to fight off infections and other stresses decreases, thus our body increases its immune response but this then may result in collateral damage to our tissues. Problems such as colitis and arthritis may then occur.
Treating or preventing this inflammation from occurring is important, especially in your gastrointestinal tract. Such inflammation can cause something we call “leaky membranes” to occur which may allow inflammatory entities to go into our bodies. Glutamine can improve the tight junctions between the cells of the gut to help prevent this process. It also stimulates powerful antioxidants which help fight off free radical formation in your body that can damage your DNA and membranes of your cells.
Fuels your Friendly Flora: You need good bacteria within your intestines for proper balance and function of your digestive tract, otherwise called your “microflora”. They also help you make B vitamins and help defend you against other not so friendly bacteria, toxins, and other attacks. The best kind of bacteria is what we call “friendly” bacteria. These little defenders in your gut use glutamine for fuel, and then they help turn glutamine into glutathione, which is one of your body’s most powerful antioxidants. Thus it is important to ingest an adequate amount of glutamine to fuel your friendly gut bacteria.
Repairs your Gut: Many of us take NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like aspirin or Advil, for many reasons, including arthritis, headaches, and minor aches and pains. However, these medications can cause ulcers, gastritis, intestinal bleeding or other GI problems that require continual repair so we don’t suffer worse damage to our health.
Glutamine is essential for this repair. Supplementing with glutamine can help repair – even reverse – damage caused by NSAIDs, in addition to damage caused by medical condition such as colitis, diarrhea, Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome. Glutamine happens to be the primary source of energy for the cells of your intestinal lining. Giving them more energy units helps them repair their cells and make them stronger to fight off inflammation and to become healthier. It has also been used to treat the above GI conditions with very good success.
Powers the Heart: Glutamine increases physical endurance by providing energy for the heart. We all know that exercise is good for our heart. However, prolonged exercise can reduce you glutamine levels by as much as fifty percent. It helps restore glycogen to your muscles, and glycogen is a power energy source used by your muscles during exercise.
Moreover, glutamine helps prevent muscle breakdown and helps repair muscle t. Thus, if you have adequate glutamine intake, you can build stronger and better muscles. In fact, many athletes utilize this power of glutamine to improve their performance naturally.
Regulates Blood Pressure: High blood pressure can be detrimental to your health because of its potentially damaging effects on the cells that line the arteries called endothelial cells. When these become damaged, the process of accumulation of plaque in the arteries can occur, which can lead to coronary artery disease and heart attack.
These endothelial cells need energy to function properly and they rely on glutamine to generate this energy. The result is better regulation of your blood pressure and less heart problems. In fact, studies have shown that removal of this energy source can cause your endothelial cells to act as though you were older and aged. In other words, they either decrease functioning properly or simply no longer function.1
Fights Hypoglycemia: When your blood sugar drops, you may suffer from symptoms of this problem called hypoglycemia. These symptoms may include an increase in agitation, shaking hands, profuse perspiration, and a feeling of doom when severe. They result from a drop in glucose level in your blood. Normally, your body then borrows glucose from muscle tissue to continue to function, but then you get the shakes and your muscles are starved of energy.
Glutamine helps prevent this reaction Glutamine is easily broken down in the liver and can be converted into glucose easily, providing you with more glucose during times when your sugar level drops. Thus, your body doesn’t have to borrow glucose from your muscle tissue and this tissue is preserved. In addition, your metabolism will be forced to utilize fat to get its energy, thus you’ll lose fat instead of muscle.
Maintains Telomere function: Telomeres are the ends of your chromosomes and have been shown to shorten whenever division of the cells takes place. After enough replications, the telomeres stop functioning and the cells die (senescence occurs). Prevention of this shortening may extend life and improve the health of your cells and this may be performed by production of an enzyme called telomerase. Telomerase simply rebuilds the telomeres so they don’t shorten and potentially continue to function normally through time.
Glutamine is essential to make certain proteins required for telomerase to function properly. This protein, called “Human Telomerase Reverse Transcriptase (hTERT) Q169” is essential for telomerase to f Function. In other words, without glutamine to create this protein called Q169, there is no telomerase and the telomeres would continue to shorten and age our cells.2
Glutamine is therefore an anti-aging nutrient and may improve our health if we maintain adequate stores of it. In fact, when your levels of glutamine drop, your health in general can suffer.
Increases Growth Hormone: Glutamine helps your body release growth hormone (HGH). Studies have shown that just 2 grams of glutamine can raise HGH levels more than four times higher than if no glutamine is taken. It’s important to maintain adequate levels of HGH throughout your lifetime.
HGH helps you burn fat and build muscle. It has been shown to improve or reverse many of the processes we see as we age. People feel healthier, stronger and more energetic with adequate HGH. Some people receive injections of HGH to accomplish this. However, using glutamine to help release it and exercise may be all your need to keep looking and feeling young.
Where can you get glutamine?
Glutamine is found in most high-protein foods like beef, chicken, and fish. High protein vegetables such as beans will also have glutamine. However, since our American diet may be somewhat deficient, supplementation may be necessary.
The recommendation is to take three to five grams of glutamine daily. You need extra glutamine to build muscle, so you may want to take some of this after your workout. For treatment of ulcers, colitis, for enhanced GI health, to boost your immune system and to help your body create telomerase and maintain your telomeres and your DNA health, two to three grams a day should be enough.
If you would like further information on glutamine and whether it will help your help, call and make an appointment with Dr. True at 817-399-8783. He practices Anti-aging concepts, and he can help evaluate your problems, treat them, and recommend long term maintenance to boost your health.
1. Unterluggauer H, et. al. "Premature senescence of human endothelial cells induced by inhibition of glutaminase." Biogerontology. August 2008, Volume 9, Issue 4, pp 247-259. 2. Wyatt H, Tsang A, Lobb D, Beattie T. "Human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT) Q169 is essential for telomerase function in vitro and in vivo." PLoS One. 2009 Sep 24;4(9):e7176.