Could You Benefit from Extra L-Glutamine?
By Jackie Cartier
June 3, 2019
Article updated on March 8, 2022
If you have the following symptoms, taking L-Glutamine could be beneficial:
- Sugar or alcohol cravings
- Compulsive or disordered eating
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Poor immune system
- Low muscle mass
- Poor wound healing
- Slow recovery after workouts
- Heartburn or acid reflux
- Digestive issues like Colitis, IBS, diverticulitis, Crohn’s, celiac disease, or symptoms from food sensitivities
Benefits Of L-Glutamine
L-Glutamine is one of the most important nutrients for a healthy digestive tract because of its ability to maintain the integrity of the intestinal wall. This amino acid (in fact it’s the most abundant of the amino acids in the body) heals all tissue in the body, especially those irritated tissues in the digestive tract. It is also known as the calming amino acid since it’s very effective at reducing anxiety, as well as sugar and alcohol cravings. Some more progressive treatment centers will use it to reduce cravings.
A 2011 study published in the Yonsei Medical Journal found that glutamine supports the immune system and is especially beneficial for patients in the hospital and those fighting viruses or overwhelming infections (Kim, 2011). Dr. Mark Hyman explains it like this: “Your entire immune system (and your body) is protected from the toxic environment in your gut by a layer only one cell thick. This thin layer covers a surface area the size of a tennis court—yet it’s basically containing a sewer. If that barrier is damaged, you will get sick and create an overactive immune system, producing inflammation throughout the body.” Repairing the gut lining can be done by getting enough gut-healing nutrients, like L-glutamine. Clinically, we have found this to be true with our clients looking for better digestion and fewer cravings.
“L-Glutamine has helped to heal my intestines after years of periodic antibiotics. Along with Nutrikey’s bifido probiotics, it is part of a dynamic duo. A terrific value.” – Susan V.
Real Food Sources Of L-Glutamine
At Nutritional Weight & Wellness we always look for real food sources first. For this important amino acid, we’re lucky that all animal protein foods are great sources of glutamine. The long list includes beef, bison, chicken, fish, free-range eggs, grass-fed dairy, lamb, pork and turkey.
Because the Weight & Wellness real food way of eating encourages animal protein at all meals and most snacks, you have plenty of opportunity to get a variety of meats (and therefore glutamine!) into your day. What might that look like? Here are some of our favorite recipes:
Another natural and tasty way to incorporate a real food source of L-glutamine is bone broth. You can easily make your own to sip like a therapeutic beverage, use as a base for a healing soup, or incorporate into your cooking (like when you make your grains or meats).
If you or someone in your family isn’t eating sufficient amounts of animal protein and/or has the symptoms mentioned above and still needs relief, we recommend taking a glutamine supplement.
How To Take It
L-Glutamine comes in two forms: capsules or powder. Our nutritionists recommend taking two capsules before or with every meal if you are doing the capsule form. For the powder, take ¼ to ½ tsp. in water before every meal. Or, if your cravings come and go, some clients put the powder right on their tongue to make the cravings go away immediately. You can open up the capsule for that quick dose of powder or keep a canister of the powder form on hand.
Ideally, it is best to take L-glutamine about 10-15 minutes before a meal, on an empty stomach and I typically recommend taking L-glutamine 2-3 times per day (so before 2-3 meals per day). However, it’s better to get it in rather than not, so do the best you can.
The length of time to stay on L-glutamine depends on the person. For most people at least 4 months of daily use is beneficial and while for others, it could be 12 months. You can also go by symptoms. Some people find relief right away, but notice a difference when they stop the L-glutamine so they add it back in. You can discuss your specific needs with a nutritionist or dietitian who will help you find what you’d need for maintenance.
If you have anxiety, sugar or alcohol cravings, constipation or diarrhea, a poor immune system, low muscle mass, poor wound healing or slow recovery after workouts, you may want to supplement with L-glutamine. Make sure you are getting in enough animal protein at meals and snacks plus incorporate a high-quality L-glutamine supplement to support the healing of all your tissues.
Learn more about L-Glutamine's connection to your health:
- Class: Breaking The Sugar Habit
- Listen: How to Control Cravings
- Read: 6 Important Supplements You Should Know More About
- Case Study: How L-Glutamine Supplementation Helped Me Control My Sugar Cravings
- Get Help: Learn About Personalized Nutrition Counseling From Nutrition Weight & Wellness
- Kim, H. A. National Institutes of Health, US National Library of Medicine, (2011). Glutamine as an immunonutrient (PMCID: PMC3220259). Retrieved from Yonsei Medical Journal website: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22028151