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L-glutamine, also called glutamine, is an important amino acid that helps our bodies function optimally. While l-glutamine is a non-essential amino acid, and is created naturally by the body, it’s BEST that it’s intentionally consumed as well. Luckily, there are many natural sources of l-glutamine readily available, including various whole foods
L-Glutamine is a naturally occurring amino acid that plays a crucial role in various biological processes within the human body. It is classified as a conditionally essential amino acid, meaning that while the body can typically synthesize it on its own, there are circumstances, such as intense physical activity, illness, or injury, that may increase the demand for glutamine and necessitate dietary supplementation.
L-Glutamine is abundant in many protein-rich foods, including meats, dairy products, and certain vegetables. It serves as a primary source of energy for rapidly dividing cells, like those found in the intestinal lining, and is integral to immune system function. Additionally, athletes and fitness enthusiasts utilize L-Glutamine to support muscle recovery and reduce exercise-induced muscle fatigue. Its diverse range of functions in the body makes it a valuable and versatile nutrient in various aspects of human health and performance.
This critical nutrient provides the body with many health benefits. Arguably, the most important benefit is healing the gut and promoting optimal gut function! In fact, we NEED glutamine during the repair stage of the gut healing process.
3 Important facts about glutamine:
Glutamine works by:
Glutamine is stored in our tissues and gut mucosa, but you can also find it in abundance in colostrum and breast milk. This bountiful source of glutamine in breast-feeding mamas is proof of its great importance in the body!
L-glutamine can benefit almost anyone and everyone. And, while most people consume adequate amounts of glutamine, the body naturally loses glutamine as we age. So, paying attention to your glutamine consumption is a good habit to form in earlier years.
Additionally, athletes and highly active individuals may benefit from including more l-glutamine in their diet, as it supports quicker muscle recovery and repair. Lastly, IBS and other gut issues have been shown to improve with increased consumption of l-glutamine due to its gut healing properties!
L-Glutamine significantly impacts the gut by maintaining the integrity of the intestinal barrier, preventing leaky gut syndrome and enhancing the production of mucin, a protective glycoprotein lining the digestive tract. It supports the immune system within the gut, fostering a balanced immune response, and exhibits anti-inflammatory properties, potentially reducing gut inflammation. Crucially, L-Glutamine serves as a vital energy source for the rapidly dividing cells lining the intestines, aiding in their regeneration and repair, particularly during periods of stress or illness.
This amino acid is often utilized as a supplemental treatment for various gastrointestinal disorders, including irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease, making it instrumental in promoting overall gut health.
There are many foods abundant in l-glutamine, but the list below includes some of my favorites. Again, if you are above 50 years old, highly active, or suffer from gut issues, you may benefit from consuming more l-glutamine-rich foods, like the following:
Bone broth is a nutritional powerhouse, particularly valued for its high L-Glutamine content. L-Glutamine is abundant in bone broth and is fundamental to gut health. It acts as a key building block for the mucosal lining of the digestive tract, reinforcing the intestinal barrier and preventing the occurrence of leaky gut.
By nourishing the gut lining, L-Glutamine supports optimal digestion, immune function, and overall gastrointestinal well-being. Furthermore, L-Glutamine aids in detoxification processes within the body, assists in reducing inflammation, and proves beneficial for individuals managing gastrointestinal conditions. In bone broth, this vital amino acid is present in substantial amounts due to the slow simmering process, making bone broth not only a comforting culinary tradition but also a functional food that promotes gut healing and overall health. You can read more about the benefits of bone broth in my post, “5 Reasons to Drink Bone Broth.”
If you find the task of making your own bone broth overwhelming, I recommend getting your bone broth from FOND which is the best quality I’ve seen. They even have low FODMAP and AIP options!
Chicken bones are an excellent natural source of L-Glutamine. To harness the L – Glutamine benefits from chicken bones, it is imperative to seek out high-quality sources, such as those from pasture-raised, organic chickens. These birds are typically raised in environments that prioritize their health and nutrition, resulting in bone tissue rich in L-Glutamine.
Crafting your own chicken broth from these meticulously sourced bones not only allows you to extract this valuable amino acid but also offers a range of additional nutritional advantages. The slow simmering process involved in making chicken broth helps release L-Glutamine from the bones, enriching the broth, which, in turn, contributes to its overall health-promoting properties. Moreover, homemade chicken broth contains a medley of other essential nutrients, including collagen, vitamins, and minerals, making it a nourishing addition to your diet that can support digestive health, immune function, and joint health.
So, whether you’re seeking the L – Glutamine benefits or aiming to boost your overall well-being, opting for pasture-raised, organic chicken bones to create your own nutrient-dense chicken broth is a wise and flavorful choice.
In addition to bone broth and chicken bones, other sources of protein (animals and plant based) are packed with nutrients, like l-glutamine:
Incorporating pasture-raised chicken, grass-fed beef, wild-caught seafood, and pasture-raised eggs into your diet not only elevates your L-Glutamine intake but also promotes an overall healthier lifestyle. These animal proteins often come from animals that have been raised in more humane and natural conditions, which can result in meat and eggs with less saturated fat and more heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Additionally, these sources of protein are known for their potential to reduce the risk of chronic diseases, support muscle growth, and enhance cognitive function, making them an excellent choice for holistic well-being.
Beyond being L-Glutamine powerhouses, hazelnuts, almonds, Brazil nuts, and macadamia nuts are treasure troves of health benefits. These nuts are abundant in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Incorporating them into your diet can help lower the risk of heart disease and improve cholesterol levels. Their high fiber content aids in digestion and weight management, making them an ideal choice for your overall health.
Plant-based sources of L-Glutamine like beets, parsley, carrots, spinach, cabbage, papaya, Brussels sprouts, celery, kale, and select nuts are brimming with an array of health benefits. These vegetables are not only sources of amino acids but also rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Their consumption supports heart health, helps regulate blood pressure, and may reduce the risk of chronic diseases. With their vibrant colors and nutrient density, these vegetables play a vital role in promoting a robust immune system and enhancing overall vitality.
Sauerkraut, kimchi, and miso offer protein alongside a unique benefit – probiotics. These live beneficial bacteria enhance gut health, aiding in digestion and nutrient absorption. Probiotics have been linked to improved mental health, reduced inflammation, and enhanced immunity. By enjoying fermented foods, you’re not only increasing your L-Glutamine intake but also nurturing your gut microbiome, which is a cornerstone of overall health.
Goat or sheep milk, rich in L-Glutamine, is often celebrated for its ease of digestion, potential to alleviate digestive discomfort, and its richness in l-glutamine as compared to cow’s milk. Furthermore, the A1 in cows milk is found to be much harder to digest. Comparatively, A2 contains essential nutrients such as calcium, phosphorus, and vitamins A and D. The choice to switch to these dairy sources isn’t just about L-Glutamine; it’s a step towards supporting bone health, cardiovascular health, and overall well-being. The nutrient density and digestibility of A2 milk make it a comprehensive choice for those aiming to optimize their health and a perfect choice for those suffering with any level of GI distress or lactose intolerance.
High-quality protein powder, while primarily valued for its protein and L-Glutamine content, offers an array of benefits that extend beyond muscle recovery and growth. Protein powders, when part of a well-balanced diet, can contribute to weight management, appetite control, and enhanced metabolic function. They also help maintain and repair body tissues, making them essential not only for athletes but also for those looking to lead a balanced and active lifestyle. In addition to L-Glutamine, they support the body in various ways to ensure holistic health.
For a list of my favorite protein powders specifically for gut health and autoimmunity, check out this article here.
The body synthesizes L-glutamine from glutamic acid or glutamate. If the body is unable to produce enough it needs to get it directly from your diet. The majority of individuals don’t seem to get enough L-glutamine from their food alone and especially the case if they don’t eat enough protein. This makes a lot of sense since it is estimated that 70 million Americans now suffer from digestive diseases.
Some reasons that you may run low in glutamine include:
A study published in the medical journal Lancet referenced above examined 20 hospital patients and found that supplementing with L-glutamine decreased intestinal permeability.
The study shows promise for treating ulcers by providing protection from further damage. Plus, it offers a healthier, natural alternative to antibiotics for the treatment of stomach ulcers. Participants reported less IBS symptoms and improved bowel movements
Supplementing with glutamine can help support energy levels, improve cognition, reduce inflammation, reduce anxiety and depression, and improve the immune system. Glutamine supplementation also supports cardiovascular function, muscle growth and to reduce sugar cravings throughout the day.
There are many great brands of optimal forms of glutamine to support your health available on Fullscript. I personally love using Metagenics Glutagenics in practice for my clients who are experiencing GI distress or who are in the repair process of healing leaky gut to reverse autoimmunity.
Dosage is typically best somewhere between two to five grams taken twice daily and up to 10 grams twice daily for serious conditions. As always, I recommend counseling with a health practitioner and ultimately a functional medicine wellness expert who can guide you on correct dosing for your individualized needs. Keep in mind replenishing glutamine levels can take time especially after a healing crisis such as surgery or illness.
While L-glutamine supplementation can be necessary in specific cases, it’s worth emphasizing that the majority of individuals can significantly enhance their overall health by incorporating a diet abundant in glutamine-rich foods. Rather than solely relying on supplements, integrating glutamine-containing foods into your daily meals offers a practical and sustainable way to fortify your body from within.
By including one or more of these foods with each meal, you not only provide your body with the essential amino acids crucial for muscle repair but also access a broader spectrum of vital nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. This dietary shift actively supports your immune system, making it more adept at defending against illnesses. Moreover, these foods play a pivotal role in maintaining a healthy gut lining, which is fundamental for optimal nutrient absorption and a reduced risk of gastrointestinal issues.
As you consciously embrace glutamine-rich foods in your daily diet, you invest in your long-term well-being, fortifying not only your muscle recovery but also your immune function and gut health, offering a comprehensive approach to holistic wellness with each delicious and nutritious meal.
Tell me below if you plan to incorporate any of these glutamine rich foods into your diet?
"When it comes to balancing our body, healing the gut, reversing autoimmunity, and achieving optimal health—we are a lot like a car that won’t run right. In order to fix the problem once and for all instead of relying on jumper cables, we must get underneath the hood, run the diagnostics, and replace the battery so that it runs good as new."
-Nikki Yelton, RD
If you are ready to stop wasting precious time, get off the never-ending hamster wheel, and finally surrender trying to figure things out on your own—this is your moment.
You don’t have to settle for just getting by and hoping tomorrow is a better day. We both know you are a woman who deserves better and are made for so. much. more.