The Importance of Consuming Foods High in Glutamine
Glutamine is one of the most important amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks that are used to make proteins, and it’s important that your body has a sufficient supply of all of the amino acids, in order to support muscle growth, tissue repair and other important functions. If your body is under a lot of stress – perhaps because you are exercising heavily – or because you have suffered a serious injury – then you may need more glutamine than you can get just from a standard day-to-day diet.
You can take supplements to get more glutamine, or you can just go the more natural route and eat foods high in glutamine. It’s not the easiest thing to do for those of us with fast paced lives as our nutrition generally takes a bit of a backseat. But, the list of foods high in glutamine is quite long – a lot of plants and animal products contain glutamine.
Additionally, your body can actually produce glutamine by itself, if you are eating a generally balanced diet, but people who have IBS, cancer, HIV or AIDS, and people who are exercising a lot and putting a lot of stress on their body through endurance events might need to eat foods high in glutamine in order to help the body keep up with their elevated requirements.
Before you start changing your diet to increase your glutamine intake, though, it’s important that you consider the potential side-effects. This is important if you are taking prescription medication – particularly if that includes blood thinning medication, because a lot of foods high in glutamine are also high in Vitamin K, which can interact with blood thinners in potentially dangerous ways.
The kinds of foods that are rich in glutamine include green, leafy vegetables. However, it’s important to note that heat will break down glutamine, so you should try to eat the vegetables raw if possible. Spinach and cabbage are good choices. If you want to get a nice large dose of glutamine, try drinking fresh cabbage juice. You can also add parsley to a smoothie, or eat beans and legumes – again, they’re a good source of glutamine, and they have the added benefit of being fairly rich in protein. In fact, if you’re vegetarian they are a very good source of protein for you.
Those who eat meat and animal products will find that they have a lot of other good potential sources for glutamine. Animal proteins such as poultry, beef, fish and pork are all good sources of glutamine. Unfortunately, if you cook the meat – which is really a requirement to prevent food poisoning, then you will destroy a large amount of the glutamine in it. You will be able to get some glutamine from cooked meat, but not much. Another option is to eat sushi or sashimi – but do bear in mind that a lot of what is marketed as sushi is not really ‘raw fish’, so you aren’t always getting the nutrients you expect.
You can get glutamine from eggs, milk, yogurt, and cheese. Bear in mind, however that when dairy products are pasteurized this can destroy the glutamine. Goat’s milk is richer in glutamine than cow’s milk, but unless you can source it unpasteurized you won’t be getting the full glutamine content.
For most people, raw vegetables are the richest and arguably the safest source of glutamine.
Other Ways to Get Glutamine
If you can’t buy unpasteurized dairy products in your area then your best choices are raw vegetables or supplements. Eating raw vegetables is ideal, but there is a lot to be said for supplementation too – especially if you have a serious injury, have been suffering from diarrhea, or have other reasons to need to take in a lot of nutrients in a short period of time.
Heavy supplementation can be dangerous if you have a kidney or liver condition or are taking supplements for psychiatric disorders. In some cases, glutamine supplements can be useful for people who have cancer, but it can interfere with chemotherapy, so it is not a good idea to take glutamine if you are a cancer patient unless you speak to the oncologist first.
Glutamine is an important nutrient, but it is not clear exactly how much people should be taking in. It is very, very hard to overdose on glutamine. If you get all of your glutamine from natural food sources it will also contain other amino acids, as well as vitamins, minerals and whole proteins, and fiber too – all things that are essential for the healthy functioning of the human body. Supplements also provide these additional benefits and are a good addition to your nutrition. However, they’re generally much more convenient to take than constantly consuming natural food sources due to our lifestyles these days. Ideally, the proper mix of glutamine will come from your diet and supplementation which will ensure that you never suffer the adverse effects of a lack of glutamine.
Don’t forget that your body does most of its tissue repair when you’re asleep – so if you want to recover from endurance events or intense exercise, pay attention to your recovery time as well. Rest, active recovery, hydration and nutrition are all important factors for people who are training like serious athletes – remember them all if you want to get the best possible results, and remember, too, that you don’t have to follow a perfect diet. A little junk food here and there won’t do you any harm – but you need to make sure that over a long period of time your nutritional choices make sense, and are designed for maximum benefit. Fresh, wholesome foods will fill you up, give you energy, and help your body repair itself.