Raw Foods for Maintaining Overall Health

Glutamine: the keeper of intestinal health

| January/February 2000

  • Miso soup, made from soybeans, and other fermented foods are good sources of enzymes.

Raw parsley and spinach are the best glutamine sources, but you’ll still find supplements your most effective option when you’re treating intestinal woes.

Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the body and is vital for maintaining overall health—especially during times of stress or illness. It’s made and released primarily by skeletal muscle, although every organ contains glutamine and is capable of releasing it.

Glutamine and other amino acids are produced when the body digests protein from food and uses it to build and maintain muscle mass. The amount we manufacture on our own—without obtaining any from the food we eat—is usually enough to fuel important metabolic processes, such as the rapid growth of cells and tissues. However, when the body is stressed or protein-deficient due to illness, muscles must release their glutamine to treat wounds, aid cells, and support the intestines. This is the point when our bodies can benefit from supplemental glutamine—especially if there are intestinal health problems.

Maintaining intestinal balance

No nutrient is more important than glutamine for intestinal health. The intestines’ primary energy source, glutamine acts as an internal carpenter, rebuilding all the protective doors that toxins and detrimental bacteria knock down in intestinal walls.

Most of the illnesses that benefit from glutamine stem from problems with intestinal permeability and inflammation that is generally caused by toxins that allow harmful bacteria access to the bloodstream. When healthy, the intestine allows only the smallest basic building blocks—amino acids, sugars, and fats—through its walls, absorbing them into the bloodstream for nourishment. At the same time, it keeps harmful bacteria and toxins inside its protective walls until they are discarded from the body as waste. When poor diet or illness depletes the body’s glutamine, the intestinal lining becomes thin, weak, and easily permeated by bacteria. This often leads to a condition known as leaky gut syndrome. These intestinal problems can cause other complications in the body, including arthritis, allergies, and skin problems.

Giving the body a boost of glutamine can help, but it isn’t easy to obtain from food sources. Although it’s found in muscle meat from beef, chicken, and fish, the cooking process destroys the amino acid. Raw parsley and spinach are the best dietary sources, but supplements are still the most effective option when treating intestinal woes.

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