LMU 133 – Harnessing Glutamine: A Key Player in Immune Function
Source: Journal “Nutrients” (October 2018)
Lifestyle Medicine Update (June 28, 2019)
In the complex symphony of human health, immunity takes center stage, defending the body against invaders and maintaining equilibrium. Amid the chorus of immune cells, one amino acid stands out as a maestro—glutamine. Abundantly present in the body and sourced from a variety of protein-rich foods, glutamine’s multi-faceted role extends beyond mere nourishment. Among its myriad functions, a star role emerges—fuelling immune cells and bolstering immune function. As the spotlight shines on glutamine, its potential to fortify the immune response becomes a topic of intrigue and exploration.
Glutamine: The Unsung Hero of Immune Function
Within the expansive realm of amino acids, glutamine claims the throne as the most abundant. This amino acid, sourced from an array of protein-containing foods, dons many hats in the body. However, its most captivating role lies in fuelling the engines of the immune system. Immune cells, the sentinels of health, thrive on glutamine’s energy supply. A captivating aspect of glutamine’s contribution is its resilience under duress—when infections strike or the body succumbs to hypercatabolism, glutamine’s demand surges. Immune cells require this amino acid to function optimally, and any shortfall can tip the scales, leaving the immune system vulnerable and opening the door to negative health outcomes.
The Crucial Link: Glutamine Supplementation and Immune Resilience
The connection between glutamine and immune strength hasn’t gone unnoticed. In the realm of critical care and invasive surgeries, clinical trials have been unfurled to uncover the impact of glutamine supplementation. The results are promising, revealing a reduction in the risk of mortality, complications, and hospital stays for critically ill patients. As further studies unfold, the potential of glutamine supplementation gains ground, particularly during periods of immune duress. The indications are that under certain stressors, where the immune system bears the brunt, glutamine supplementation could emerge as an ally, curbing infections or aiding the immune system in its battle against ongoing infections.
Guardians of Stamina: Glutamine for Endurance Athletes
For endurance athletes who push their limits on the track or the road, the immune system often bears the brunt. Intense exercise training, while transformative, can compromise immunity, inviting a higher risk of upper respiratory tract infections. Enter glutamine—a potential solution. Studies indicate that supplementing with glutamine might tip the balance, reducing the incidence of these infections. As the findings illuminate this facet, glutamine asserts itself as a potential safeguard for athletes striving for peak performance without immune compromise.
Glutamine’s Role in Aging and Immunity
With aging, immunity can waver, leaving the body more susceptible to infections and diseases. Among the intricate players in this narrative, neutrophils—a crucial immune cell—take center stage. However, after the age of 60, these defenders lose their edge, rendering the body more vulnerable to threats. This is where glutamine enters the stage, supplying the raw materials required to boost the respiratory burst capacity of neutrophils. As an integral component of an anti-aging strategy, glutamine supplementation presents itself as a potential guardian of immune health.
Navigating Glutamine Supplementation: Considerations and Cautions
While the potential benefits of glutamine supplementation are enticing, a prudent approach is crucial. For those with autoimmune diseases, glutamine’s immune-stimulating effects warrant careful consideration. Moreover, the complex dynamics of cancer further paint a nuanced picture. While glutamine may bolster immune cells against cancer cells, it could inadvertently benefit certain cancer cells that feed on it. For cancer survivors or those battling the disease, alternative avenues like medicinal mushrooms might prove more prudent.
Incorporating Glutamine: A Balancing Act
In the grand tapestry of health, glutamine emerges as a potential thread, weaving immune strength and resilience. While it may not be the ultimate panacea, it holds promise as a strategic tool. During infections or periods of intense physical stress, glutamine supplementation—5 to 10 grams per day—could lend a supportive hand to the immune system’s battle. As studies continue to illuminate its potential, glutamine assumes its role as a potential guardian of immune function, ready to take its place in the quest for holistic well-being.
- Cruzat V, Rogero MM, Keane KN, Curi R, Newsholme P. Glutamine: Metabolism and immune function, supplementation, and clinical translation. Nutrients. Oct 23, 2018 10(1): 1564 [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6266414/](https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6266414/)
- Meils GC, ter Wengel N, Boelens PG, van Leeuwen PA. Glutamine; recent developments in research on the clinical significance of glutamine. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2004 Jan;7(1):59-70 [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15090905](https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15090905)
Eat Smart, Live Well, Look Great,
Dr. James Meschino
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. James Meschino, DC, MS, ROHP, is an educator, author, and researcher having lectured to thousands of healthcare professionals across North America. He holds a Master’s Degree in Science with specialties in human nutrition and biology and is recognized as an expert in the field of nutrition, anti-aging, fitness, and wellness as well as the author of numerous books.