For the past several weeks, I’ve taken Pro Performance L-Glutamine Powder after all of my workouts for post-workout recovery and to help heal the epithelial cells in my small intestine. (GNC sent me some Pro Performance L-Glutamine Powder as part of a program with Fitfluential.)
When I visited my G.I. doctor a couple of weeks ago, I mentioned to his nurse practitioner that I was taking L-Glutamine Powder. She said some of her IBD patients find it helpful, so she said to keep taking it if I was having success with it. Since then, I’ve taken the L-Glutamine Powder mixed with water (it’s flavorless) 1-2 times a day, and it seems to be keeping my colon healthy and happy!
Recently, I had the opportunity to interview one of the doctors on GNC’s Medical Advisory Board by email, so I asked him all about L-Glutamine. His bio and our Q & A are below.
Dr. Victor R. Prisk is an assistant professor and board-certified orthopaedic surgeon at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine specializing in the care of physique athletes, dancers and gymnasts.
During his fellowship training, Dr. Prisk specialized in dance medicine and sports foot and ankle surgery at the Hospital for Special Surgery of Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City. He actively researches the biology of tissue healing and the role of nutrition in surgical care and is inventor of the G.A.I.N. Plan for life-long goal attainment.
Dr. Prisk is an avid writer in multiple medical journals and fitness magazines, and has been featured on several national and local television and radio programs discussing overall health, fitness and the benefits of sports nutrition.
Dr. Prisk is an NCAA All-American gymnast from Iowa State University and Michigan State University and graduated with honors from the University of Illinois College of Medicine. While in medical school, Dr. Prisk performed across the country as a professional swing dancer with his troupe Hep Cat Swing and, during his orthopaedic surgery residency at the University of Pittsburgh, became interested in body building, translating his research in sports nutrition and muscle injury to success on the competitive stage. In 2009, he won the International Federation of Body Building (IFBB) North American Championships and proceeded to earn his IFBB pro-card with a win at the 2010 National Physique Committee National Championships.
What is L-Glutamine?
L-Glutamine is a naturally occurring nonessential amino acid and is the most abundant free amino acid in human plasma and muscle. Glutamine plays many roles in human metabolism. It acts as a building block for proteins, purines & pyrimidines (DNA/RNA), and amino sugars . It is used as cellular fuel for the intestines, skin, muscle, and immune system. It is the amino acid that is most easily converted to glucose by gluconeogenesis in the liver. It has a role in pH balance and is a precursor to the antioxidant glutathione.
Who should take L-Glutamine?
Prolonged moderate to high intensity exercise is associated with a decrease in intramuscular and plasma glutamine concentrations. Thus glutamine supplementation becomes important in restoring those levels and maintaining metabolic function. Also, in times of dieting with low or very low carbohydrate intake, glutamine can help spare the conversion of branched-chain amino acids from muscle to glucose by acting as the main substrate for gluconeogenesis and thus maintaining stable blood glucose levels.
What are the benefits of using L-Glutamine?
Over a long period of intense training it is hypothesized that the chronic reduction in plasma glutamine levels may be, in part, responsible for the decreased immune function observed in some endurance athletes. Furthermore, intense training can lead to an increase in gut permeability that can make an athlete more vulnerable to pathogens. Since glutamine can become a “conditionally essential” amino acid in times of stress it should be supplemented in order to fuel immune cells and the cells of the intestinal lining. Also, glutamine consumed with essential amino acids and carbohydrates have been shown in combination to improve athletic performance.
What is the benefit of taking L-Glutamine in powder form?
Since glutamine is often taken in amounts up to and sometimes greater than 5 grams, it is often easier to mix them into a drink or shake than chug a bunch of pills. Unflavored glutamine really has very little taste and mixes well in liquids. Additionally, taking glutamine in a drink leads to more rapid absorption.
I’ve heard L-Glutamine can help with health conditions such as Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis. Can you tell me more about these claims?
The fact that glutamine is a preferred substrate for enterocytes (lining of the gut) and other rapidly dividing cells such as immune cells suggests that it may play a beneficial role in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases like Crohn’s or UC. Studies show that glutamine levels are remarkably low in the lining of severely inflamed intestines. It is hypothesized that glutamine could improve intestinal integrity, barrier function, antioxidant defenses, and have anti-inflammatory effects. Also, glutamine regulates the survival and growth of bacteria in the intestine thus playing a supportive role to probiotics. A human study of glutamine supplementation at 0.5g/kg per day for 2 months demonstrated improvement in intestinal permeability and morphology in Crohn’s disease patients.
How often and how much L-Glutamine should one take?
The average daily intake of glutamine from dietary protein is about 3-6 g/d when consuming recommended amounts of protein. Most studies have examined doses between 5 to 10g/day of additional glutamine without any adverse effects. As mentioned earlier, much higher doses ranging from 20-50g/day have been used in studies on inflammatory bowel diseases.
Is it safe to use? Are there any side effects?
No adverse side effects to glutamine supplementation even with supplementation of 20-30 g have been reported in healthy athletes. Studies done on pediatric cancer and Crohn’s patients have shown no significant adverse effects of glutamine supplementation up to 0.65g per kg body weight. The only caution might be to those who have kidney disease and they should consult with their physician.
Did you learn something new? I definitely did! Did you catch the part about glutamine and probiotics? Interesting, right? And now it’s time for a giveaway!
Here’s your chance to win an 8-ounce container of Pro Performance L-Glutamine Powder from GNC!
To enter: Just leave a comment on this post about why you’d like to try the Pro Performance L-Glutamine Powder. Earn an extra entry by clicking over to GNC, shopping around, and leaving a second comment about a product that you would like to try. I’ll randomly pick 5 winners tomorrow.