Today’s post is about a protein component that’s absolutely critical to your bone health and to your overall health.
It’s an amino acid that plays a very important role in bone density because it keeps your muscles strong, regulates your body pH, and is necessary for the synthesis of a powerful bone-protective antioxidant.
But that’s not all; it also has many other general health benefits. So much so, that it’s been touted as the “Fountain of Youth”. Unfortunately, levels of this amino acid tend to decrease as we age.
You’ll never hear this from your doctor, so I’m thrilled to give you detailed information on this amino acid including how to make sure you have adequate levels of it.
Glutamine, The Bone-Building, Anti-Aging Powerhouse
First of all, it’s important to clarify that glutamine should not be confused with the toxic food additive monosodium glutamate (MSG). Although glutamine acts as a precursor in the production of the neurotransmitter glutamate, consuming the flavor-enhancing salt product, monosodium glutamate (MSG), is really toxic.
You see, when you consume foods flavored with MSG, you’re taking in a “free” form of glutamate that acts as an excitotoxin in the body. (Excitotoxins over-stimulate neurons, resulting in death or damage of nerve cells.) The glutamate your body produces on its own is “bound,” and is a vital component in the synaptic process.
Also, you may have seen glutamine written as L-glutamine; they are the same thing written different ways. The “L” simply refers to the way glutamine links up with other amino acids.
Before we move on to glutamine’s specific roles in the body, it’s important that we clarify…
Just What Is An Amino Acid?
Amino acids form the building blocks of proteins, which explains their extraordinarily versatile biological functions. There are 20, of which 10 are essential because they can only be obtained from food. All of them have the same basic molecular structure: an amine bonded to carboxylic acid. Proteins are involved in many body functions and are the main structural component of muscle tissue.
Glutamine, a non-essential amino acid (because your body produces it) is a particularly special amino acid, and here are some important reasons why.
Glutamine And The Master Antioxidant
If you have the Osteoporosis Reversal Program, you know that Chapter 12 is devoted entirely to antioxidants and their importance in bone health. Glutamine actually helps your body produce an antioxidant known as glutathione (GSH), the “Master Antioxidant.” GSH is very effective – it even has the ability to detoxify acetaminophen, a pain killer whose toxic nature is becoming more and more well known.1
Glutamine increases GSH levels, according to a study published in the Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition. When rats were fed food enriched with glutamine, their glutathione levels increased.2
“Supplemental oral GLN [glutamine] further enhances GLN extraction as well as GSH fractional release in the gut,”2 the study concludes.
Getting glutamine from foods is a very effective and balanced way to deliver it exactly where it’s needed to produce the Master Antioxidant and release it into your system. In a moment, we’ll take a look at more foods that are high in glutamine.
In addition to its role in producing GSH…
Glutamine Is Crucial To Your Bone Health
One of the most amazing things that glutamine does for your bones is help regulate your body’s pH. Your kidneys produce ammonium as a byproduct of their filtering process, a toxic substance with an acidic pH. Glutamine donates a proton to an ammonia molecule, thereby eliminating an acid and preserving an alkalizing bicarbonate.
Since your kidneys filter out excess acid from the blood, they can get exhausted and overloaded if you’re eating a highly acidic diet. If you’re following the Osteoporosis Reversal Program, you’re already getting many glutamine-rich foods that are part of the vital role that diet plays in alkalizing the body’s pH.
Because of its role as a protein building block, glutamine also promotes strong, flexible muscle tissue (which is composed primarily of protein). And already Savers know that…
Strong Muscles Promote Strong Bones
When you exercise, your muscles contract to pull on your skeleton, causing motion. Muscles cannot push; they can only contract, then relax to release. In addition to the pull of gravity, this muscle-on-bone action signals your bone cells to build up and increase in density and strength at the point of friction or impact. That’s why exercise is as indispensable as diet in maintaining and building bone.
Glutamine’s list of health benefits goes beyond bone health. Next, we’re going to take a look at some of the ways glutamine acts in other body systems and processes.
Glutamine Promotes A Youthful Appearance
As glutamine production decreases with age, the body must obtain it from muscle tissue and skin, where it is normally present and accounts for firmness, strength, and elasticity. When the body must tap into its own glutamine stores, it causes the body to “dry up,” so to speak. Muscle tissue thins, and skin sags and wrinkles. This is why glutamine is sometimes referred to as the “inner fountain of youth.”
Getting plenty of glutamine in your diet prevents your body from having to use its own stores, so your skin and muscles can retain their strength and elasticity.
Digestive And Immune Systems Benefit From Glutamine
Glutamine supports the lining of the small and large intestine, thus preventing unhealthy intestinal permeability, soothing inflammation, and possibly managing various allergic reactions. It also acts as an immune system booster, preventing infection even in those whose immune systems are compromised through excessive exercise or medical procedures.3
Sources Of Glutamine
As I mentioned above, glutamine is non-essential, so your body produces it; but glutamine production decreases with age, raising the need for supplementation. Despite this, I do not recommend taking oral supplements, and here’s why.
The fact that your body makes glutamine means that it is part of a complex, delicately-balanced biological process that involves an intricate interplay between hormones, nutrients, neurotransmitters, and other body systems. Obtaining glutamine from foods avoids the potential for overdosing on glutamine, which would knock this balance off-kilter and cause all sorts of problems.
Simply put, eating glutamine-rich foods gives your body what it requires to produce what it needs.
Foods High In Glutamine
As you can see, the Osteoporosis Reversal Program already has you “covered” with regard to glutamine-rich foods. And if you’re looking for ways to prepare and enjoy them, please take a moment to check out Bone Appétit, the companion cookbook to the Program.
Till next time,
1 Baylor College Of Medicine. “Understanding Acetaminophen Poisoning.” ScienceDaily, 14 Oct. 2002. Web. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/10/021014072451.htm
2 Cao, Y, et al. “Glutamine enhances gut glutiathone production.” Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition. 1998 Jul-Aug. 22(4):224-7. Web. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9661123
3 Leander U, Furst P, Vesterberg K, Vinnars E. “Nitrogen sparing effect of ornicetil(R) in the immediate postoperative state.” Clin Nutr 1985;4:43-51.