| Food & Diet

Top 5 Foods Containing Glutamine

By Jayton Miller

Glutamine is an amino acid that can be produced by the body, however, as you will soon learn more about it can be beneficial to supplement with extra glutamine when looking to further support someone's health. Let’s take a look at what this amazing amino acid can do…

Contents:

What Is Glutamine?:

What Is Glutamine

Glutamine is an amino acid, which means it is one of the building blocks of protein. Glutamine is known as a conditionally essential amino acid. This means that the body can have the ability to make the amino acid, but during certain situations getting a source from outside the body (an exogenous source) can have extra benefits. 

Benefits of Glutamine:

Benefits Of Glutamine

Glutamine supplementation can have several benefits. Glutamine supplementation can be especially beneficial for certain groups of people who do not eat much dairy (as dairy is a high glutamine containing food source). Specifically benefits are seen in plant based individuals and individuals who cannot eat dairy due to digestive reasons. 

Glutamine Helps Support Healthy Intestinal Health

Intestinal health is critical to good overall health.  The intestinal tract, which is about 25 feet long, acts as a barrier against toxins and pathogens entering the body via digestion.  This is done by constantly making mucus, which consists of digestive enzymes and glutamine.

Glutamine benefits this process because it helps provide the glutamic acid necessary for glutathione synthesis.  Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect the digestive tract from oxidative damage, which can lead to inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis.  

The glutamine benefits don't stop there when it comes to intestinal health; glutamine also helps provide glutamic acid for bacterial biochemical pathways, which in turn supports a healthy microflora balance in the intestinal tract.  

Additionally, glutamine benefits include helping to protect the intestinal lining by preventing leaky gut syndrome.  In this condition, inflammation causes tight junctions of cells within the tract to loosen and become permeable to larger particles, which then cause an immune response that further exacerbates the inflammation.  

By limiting glutamine in the diet, glutathione synthesis cannot occur and a glutamic acid deficiency occurs because glutamine is needed in forming glutamic acid from glutamate via glutaminase. Thus glutamine supplementation can be beneficial when limiting glutamine containing foods like dairy in the diet.

Glutamine Helps Support A Healthy Immune System

The glutamine benefits don't stop with the gastrointestinal tract.  Glutamine also works in tandem with glutathione to support a healthy immune system by preventing oxidative damage in white blood cells, which reduces the number of immune cells that die before their time.

Additionally, glutamine benefits include helping to protect the immune cells from other dangerous toxins such as ammonia and glutamic acid.  By glutathione binding to these toxins and glutamine supporting glutathione synthesis, glutamic acid is turned into glutamine and removed from the body.

Glutamine also boosts immunity by affecting a substance known as arginine vasopressin (AVP), which is a brain hormone that works with glutamine to control our immune response.   AVP directly enhances glutathione levels in the body, thus supporting glutathione functions and glutamine benefits by reducing glutaminase activity.  

Glutamine Helps Support Healthy Muscle Maintenance

Glutamine benefits muscle maintenance through glutathione synthesis, which protects muscle cells from damage due to exercise.  Additionally, glutamine helps reduce glutamic acid levels in the body after glutamic acid is broken down into glutamine by glutaminase, limiting any harmful effects of excess glutamic acid on muscles.  Excess glutamic acid can cause neurotoxicity and induce neuron death.  This process also reduces inflammation within the muscles, making them feel less sore after strenuous activities.

Note* - Antioxidant activity can inhibit the necessary inflammatory processes required to trigger proper adaptation to exercise, resulting in less favorable muscle gains.

It must be noted though that not all studies are supportive of glutamines ergogenic properties when it comes to exercise performance .  While some research has shown protective effects of glutamine supplementation during periods of intense physical activity or while exercising in a carbohydrate-restricted state, glutamine supplementation may not positively effect high-intensity exercise performance.  However glutamine benefits in terms of proper immune system support and muscle maintenance are still very much possible for healthy individuals.

Read More: Protein: The Macronutrient Guide

Glutamine Recommended Daily Allowance:

Glutamine Recommended Daily Allowance

The recommended daily allowance for glutamine is  13 grams per day, but glutamine benefits suggest slightly higher amounts; anywhere from 15 to 20 grams per day.  Further research is needed to determine the effects glutamine has on glutathione levels specifically.

Glutamine side effects are very rare and usually only occur when taking extremely high doses of glutamine supplements.  The most notable glutamine side effect is stomach cramping or bloating, which can be avoided by ensuring proper hydration status.  This will aid in digestion and help inhibit conversion of glutamic acid into glutaminase, further supporting glutamines role in maintaining a healthy immune system.  Other notable glutamine side effects include headache, muscle pain, and fatigue, but glutamine benefits far outweigh immune system function to possible glutamine side effects.

Read More: Glycine: The Amino Acid That Keeps On Giving

Foods That Contain Glutamine:

Foods

Foods high in glutamine include:

  • Beef, 
  • Chicken, 
  • Fish (Cod)
  • Eggs 
  • Dairy products (cottage cheese and yogurt)

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Conclusion:

Glutamine is a conditionally essential amino acid that helps support healthy muscle maintenance, immune system function and intestinal health. If you are not getting enough glutamine in your diet or if you suffer from certain gastrointestinal disorders like Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis, this supplement may provide some support for you. There are many ways to get more glutamine in your life including adding it to your favorite foods through cooking with these ingredients and taking a daily dose of a good glutamine supplement. Make sure to also check out some of our other posts about how to take care of yourself by eating clean while still enjoying food you love!