Glutamine & Intestinal Health


JULY, 2016

Glutamine is an amino acid found naturally in the body.

Amino acids are the basic building blocks of proteins.  Proteins are very important components in the body that have many jobs to do including repair and rebuilding of muscle, making antibodies to foreign invaders, and they are the enzymes that make reactions happen efficiently in the body.  Glutamine is the most abundant free amino acid in the body, is produced in the muscles and is transported by the blood.

Swaid et al. (2013) studied the effect of glutamine supplementation on intestinal damage. They used mice to determine the effects of glutamine supplementation on damage induced by acetic acid (vinegar).  The acetic acid injury to the gastrointestinal tract of these mice were used to mimic the effect of Crohn’s disease, Ulcerative Colitis and other chronic inflammatory disorders of the gut.  Glutamine was used in this study as it has been shown to be an “essential metabolic component of the proliferative response of enterocytes” (Swaid et al 2013).

There have been extensive studies of the glutamine response to enterocytes but the mechanism is yet to be fully understood.  Glutamine encourages the stimulation of enterocytes and the recovery of damaged intestinal lining.  The acetic acid administered to mice in this study caused severe intestinal damage with the most damage seen in the jejunum.

The results of this studied showed glutamine supplementation to the damaged mice was beneficial. The glutamine-treated mice had “exhibited reversal or villus epithelium loss and injury” and at the tissue level, “villus height and crypt depth increased which indicates increased absorptive surface area” (Swaid et al., 2013). This studied demonstrated oral glutamine supplementation does help with new cell proliferation of enterocytes and is effective in treating damaged intestinal lining.

What does this mean for humans intestinal health? 

It is clear that not all information gleaned from animal models can be extrapolated to humans; however, this study was able to develop a model that resulted in injury of the intestinal tract similar to humans suffering from Crohn’s disease.  With the typical American diet and/or heavy exercise training, glutamine supplementation seems to be a viable way to heal the gut and replenish the muscles of this seemingly valuable amino acid. For a pharmaceutical grade glutamine supplement, click here to order.

Swaid, F., Sukhotnik, I., Matter, I., Berkowitz, D., Hadjittofi, C., Pollak, Y. &Lavy, A. (2013). Dietary glutamine supplementation prevents mucosal injury and modulates intestinal
epithelial restitution following acetic acid induced intestinal injury in rats. Nutrition Metabolism (London): 10(53). Doi:10.1186/1743-7075-10-53

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