Promote digestive health and combat leaky gut with THIS amino acid
(NaturalHealth365) While Western medicine has been slow to recognize “leaky gut” syndrome, integrative doctors have been addressing this damaging condition for years. Also known as increased intestinal permeability, a leaky gut can cause impaired absorption of nutrients and vitamin deficiencies – along with symptoms of fatigue, headaches, and mood changes. Even more disturbingly, many integrative doctors believe that leaky gut is a primary cause of autoimmune syndrome, triggering harmful conditions such as ulcerative colitis and asthma.
Thankfully, research suggests that a common amino acid, glutamine, can benefit a leaky gut. Read on to see what this natural compound “brings to the table” to support digestive health.
Glutamine is a vital nutrient for gut health, experts suggest
Leaky gut is characterized by small holes in the intestinal lining, which allow undigested food particles and toxins to penetrate the underlying tissue and trigger inflammation. It is diagnosed by measuring levels of zonulin, a compound that controls the size of the openings between the gut lining and the bloodstream. Abnormally high amounts can cause the openings to be too large. Zonulin levels can rise due to gluten consumption, a protein in cereal grains. The presence of parasites, pathogenic bacteria, and Candida albicans yeasts can also trigger increases in zonulin.
In a review published in the peer-reviewed journal Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care, the authors evaluated the importance of glutamine in maintaining intestinal barrier function. Glutamine depletion, they reported, could cause atrophy of the villi, the tiny projections that line the intestinal walls, and decrease the expression of tight junction proteins, which help to provide intestinal integrity.
On the other hand, getting optimal amounts of glutamine could lead to significant improvements. The authors concluded that glutamine supplementation can improve gut barrier function, thereby playing a beneficial role in gastrointestinal disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome.
Additional studies have showcased glutamine’s role in gut health. A study published in Clinical Immunology showed that glutamine helps to regulate inflammatory cytokines, thereby reducing intestinal inflammation and helping to ease food sensitivities. A 2018 review published in the journal Nutrients suggests that glutamine reduces the bacterial overgrowth of pathogens, helping to maintain a healthy gut microbiome and prevent infection.
Leaky gut can wreak havoc on health, triggering autoimmune and metabolic disorders
Integrative healthcare experts believe that leaky gut is the main cause of autoimmune syndrome – not such a startling concept when you consider that a full 70 to 80 percent of the immune system is located in the gut. In addition to being implicated in IBS, leaky gut has been linked to a litany of other health problems, including ulcerative colitis, arthritis, psoriasis, asthma, and thyroid conditions such as Hashimoto’s disease.
The research on leaky gut’s consequences continues to accumulate. For example, a new review published in Frontiers in Nutrition reports that increased intestinal permeability is “clearly present” in inflammatory bowel disease. The scientists confirmed that leaky gut also plays a role in celiac disease – which involves an immune reaction to eating gluten. Somewhat more surprisingly, the team noted that leaky gut can contribute to chronic metabolic issues and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, as well.
Glutamine nourishes intestinal cells while supporting brain, heart, and muscle health
Glutamine, one of twenty naturally occurring amino acids found in protein foods, is among the most abundant amino acids in the bloodstream. It comprises 60 percent of skeletal muscles and is the main fuel source for the cells of the small intestine. While the bodybuilding and fitness industries were among the first to discern the benefits of glutamine (which include aiding protein synthesis, preserving muscle mass, aiding post-workout recovery, hydrating muscles, and burning fat), it is becoming more well-known as a supplement to treat leaky gut.
In addition, glutamine supplementation is often recommended as supportive care for immune-suppressed individuals.
But this versatile amino acid has more gifts to offer. As a precursor to the brain neurotransmitter glutamate, glutamine is believed to promote brain health. In addition, glutamine supports detoxification by cleansing the body of high levels of ammonia.
A potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent, glutamine also supports heart health. Yet another “plus” is that glutamine is thought to help suppress cravings for sugar, carbohydrates, and alcohol. Finally, glutamine is one of three amino acids that serve as “building blocks” for glutathione, the body’s master antioxidant.
Glutamine is found in a variety of protein-rich foods
A conditional essential amino acid, glutamine is normally produced by the body. Under certain circumstances – such as physical trauma, injury, and diseases that cause muscle wasting – the demand may exceed the supply. Glutamine then becomes an essential amino acid and must be obtained through diet or supplementation.
High-protein foods such as grass-fed beef, pasture raised eggs, and wild-caught salmon are the best sources of glutamine. It is also found in spirulina, rice, tofu, and cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage and Brussels sprouts.
Glutamine is available as a supplement in two different formulations: “free-form” L-glutamine and trans-alanyl-L-glutamine, which is believed to be the most bioavailable form. Integrative healthcare providers might advise two to five grams of glutamine twice daily. Check with your own healthcare provider before supplementing, though.
Poor nutrition – as exemplified by the sugar-laden, gluten-rich, carb-heavy standard American diet (S.A.D.!) – physical and mental stress, and the use of alcohol are all believed to trigger leaky gut. Making healthy lifestyle choices can go a long way toward healing this troublesome disorder. One of these steps, of course, is to make sure you don’t fall short of beneficial glutamine. As research indicates, it is a “must” for gut health.
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