Leaky gut can be considered as one of the most recent epidemics that has influenced a huge population across the globe.
Those affected may not be aware of it, even if they find themselves struggling with its symptoms like digestive problems, autoimmunity issues, or mood swings.
Gut health is critically important for our overall health as it strengthens our immune system and helps in flushing out toxins from the body.
For optimum gut, health glutamine has been found quite helpful. Let us find out the healing effect of glutamine for leaky gut.
What is a Leaky Gut?
Leaky gut syndrome or a leaky gut is the term used to describe an increase in penetrability of the intestinal tract lining.
The stomach and intestines have a protective lining that is covered with a thick layer of mucous to provide additional protection from the strong stomach acid and microbes within the body.
The lining comprises very slim spaces called tight junctions which are meant to allow the entry of nutrients and water from the food and prevent the absorption of harmful substances.
After a meal, these tight junctions have shown to loosen up more to ensure maximum absorption (1).
In the case of a leaky gut, these tight junctions turn abnormally loose and allow the entry of bacteria and toxic substances which in turn cause inflammation throughout the body. You may experience symptoms like abdominal cramps, fatigue, loss of appetite, and fever.
Summary: Leaky gut can cause the entry of toxins and pathogens from the intestines to the bloodstream resulting in widespread inflammation.
What is L-Glutamine?
For our body to maintain the growth of healthy tissues, proteins are needed in an adequate amount.
Proteins, on the other hand, are formed from 20 amino acids, wherein every amino acid has a very specific and unique function.
L-Glutamine, the most abundant amino acid found within our body, is derived from food sources like beef, dairy, cabbage, and spinach.
It is used by athletes and fitness enthusiasts as it can enhance muscle mass build-up, reduce fatigue, improve recovery from an intense workout, and reduce muscle soreness (2).
Consumption of glutamine for gut health has become increasingly popular owing to its property of protecting the intestinal lining, strengthening the gut barrier, and decreasing the digestive problems (3).
Summary: Glutamine is an amino acid and is essential for intestinal cell metabolism. It improves the immune system and makes the gut barrier strong.
How Beneficial is L Glutamine for Leaky Gut?
To understand the mechanism utilized by L-glutamine to heal the gut, one needs to know that L-glutamine is utilized by the cells of the intestinal lining as their primary energy source (4).
As the lining cells of the gut have a strong affinity towards L-glutamine and absorb it directly, glutamine supplements can be really effective in treating gut problems (5).
The changes that L-glutamine supplementation can bring about in case of a leaky gut are-
- An increase in the production of mucous and Secretory Immunoglobulin Type A (SIgA) – While SIgA helps in bringing down the inflammation, the increase in intestinal mucous provides a soothing effect on the intestine (6).
- A decrease in gut permeability – This is done by tightening loose spaces that are allowing the entry of toxins from the gut into the bloodstream (7).
- Strengthening of the immune system due to fortified gut barrier – This means that the immune system is slowly getting fixed as it need not deal with an excess of toxins or foreign bodies that were freely entering the bloodstream due to the leaky gut.
- Stabilization of blood glucose levels – This is particularly helpful in overcoming sugar cravings as excess sugar consumption can also contribute to an increase in inflammation (8).
Just like glutamine supplementation helps in muscle buildup in athletes, it acts as the fuel for the metabolism of intestinal cells thereby, repairing a leaky gut.
Summary: Glutamine helps in narrowing the overly loose spaces so that the excess permeability is fixed and inflammation is reduced.
How Much Glutamine Should I Take for Leaky Gut?
Though most of the commercial brands suggest a protocol of 1gm to 2g of L-glutamine for leaky gut, this may simply not be enough and may stand only as a fair dose for the maintenance phase.
The reason behind this is that our intestine can utilize only one-third of the glutamine that is consumed (9).
According to one study that has come up with a formula to calculate the ideal dose for a day, L-glutamine consumed should be 0.5gm/kilogram of body weight. This means that a person weighing 60kgs should consume 30gms of L-glutamine per day (10).
Hence, a daily dose between 10gm to 40gm of L-glutamine is recommended. The dose should be worked up gradually so that the body gets enough time to get used to the new dose.
It is advisable to consume glutamine powder for leaky gut instead of choosing the pill form as one may need to take about 10 to 20 pills to reach the recommended dose of glutamine. This can be quite stressful.
Another tip can be spreading the dose evenly throughout the day by taking 2 scoops (a total of 10gm) of glutamine powder with a glass of water (240ml) before every meal.
Summary: Glutamine powder is preferred over pills and a dose of 10gms to 40gms is considered safe and effective in treating a leaky gut.
The Final Note
Leaky gut occurs due to intestinal hyperpermeability and can lead to a multitude of problems like digestive problems, allergic reactions, and hormonal imbalance.
L-glutamine has been found effective in healing a leaky gut.
Though L-glutamine is found within the body abundantly and can be derived from a variety of foods, it may not be enough to treat a leaky gut.
Hence, L-glutamine supplements can be used to strengthen and maintain the integrity of the intestinal lining.
It is always a good idea to discuss your digestive issues with your physician before going for glutamine supplementation.