Glutamine has recently begun to attract the attention of the sports public, and there has been research into its contribution to sports. But what exactly is it, which is its usefulness to the body and how much is it ultimately needed?
What is glutamine
Glutamine is a non-essential amino acid commonly found in abundance in the body. Like all amino acids, it is a structural component of proteins, and seems to play an important role in gut and immune health. It is mainly found in the muscles, where it is also stored, and in the bloodstream.
Glutamine for athletes
Blood glutamine levels often fall during intense stress, inflammation or injury. Even in athletes with intense workout or participation in endurance races, blood glutamine levels appear to be reduced. Since this amino acid is a valuable fuel for the cells of the immune system, its depletion may lead to weakening of the body, making it more prone to infections.
In a study of long-distance athletes such as the Marathon, plasma glutamine levels fell by 20% one hour after the race. Glutamine intake after exercise appeared to have a good effect on subsequent infections. (1) For this reason glutamine supplementation is often recommended in endurance athletes who are at risk of colds or illness several days after the race.
Several studies show that glutamine helps in post-exercise recovery as it contributes to the synthesis of glycogen and glutathione while preventing the accumulation of ammonia. The effect of glutamine on the intestine contributes to better absorption of fluids and electrolytes. It seems that when combined with carbohydrates it has a better effect on fatigue and performance!
Glutamine and intestine
Glutamine deficiency can also lead to bowel problems. Glutamine strengthens the intestinal barrier and prevents the passage of bacteria and toxins or even proteins that are not cleaved enough by digestion.
Glutamine – foods
Glutamine is found in a variety of high protein foods such as red meat, chicken, fish, eggs, dairy products, as well as several plant foods such as cabbage, beans, spinach, peanuts, barley, beets and more.
As a result, most people can meet their food needs! However, special care is needed when cooking, as this can destroy much of the amino acid, especially in foods of vegetable origin.
Glutamine: Side effects
Prolonged intake of glutamine should be considered, especially if taken at high doses, as this may affect the body’s ability to process amino acids. It should be avoided by people who have seizures, mania symptoms, cirrhosis or other serious liver disease, have glutamine monosodium sensitivity or had a bone marrow transplant. In addition, simultaneous taking with lactulose should be avoided. (2)
In general, most researchers agree that if glutamine intake is sufficient through diet, the body can meet the needs that arise during exercise. The cases in which the needs appear to increase are in situations of stress, injury and intense athletic activity. So it might be a good idea to discuss about this supplement with a specialist.
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