by Dr. Will Cole
Your gut is the foundation of your entire health. I can’t stress this fact enough. Many modern health problems such as autoimmune diseases, depression, anxiety, cancer, and even heart disease have been linked to a compromised gut. It’s a common misconception that you have to be having gut symptoms – like bloating, constipation, gas, or food intolerances – to have gut problems. That is not the case. In fact, around 22 percent of people with underlying digestive issues do not have obvious digestive symptoms.
Damage to your gastrointestinal tract allows undigested food particles and other toxins to enter your bloodstream. This leads to a cascade of chronic inflammation which is no bueno for your health. SIBO, candida overgrowth, and other microbiome imbalances can also wreak havoc on your gut and contribute to ongoing health problems.
Healing your body starts with healing your gut.
The good news is that by working on your gut health you can begin to heal even the longest-standing health problems. The surface area of your gut is lined with a type of cell known as enterocytes. Because of their frequent regeneration every 2-3 weeks, your gut gets a whole new lining that often! Due to this quick turnaround those without chronic gut problems can heal their gut in as little as 2 to 12 weeks. But if you have autoimmune-inflammation issues or a fully damaged gut it can take between 12 to 24 months to completely heal and notice sustainable changes.
There are many things that you can do to begin healing. One simple way is by taking an L-glutamine supplement. You’ve probably seen these in vitamin and health food stores often advertised toward athletes as great way to repair muscle tissue. It is used in the biosynthesis of protein to be used by your body and is one of the most abundant amino acids in your blood.
L-glutamine is considered a conditionally essential amino acid because your body uses so much during times of intense physical stress. It is essential for maintaining the health and growth of enterocytes in your gut since it is the preferred fuel of these cells. So if you want to win the battle against leaky gut syndrome, L-glutamine should be a go-to resource in your toolbox.
There are many studies that support L-glutamine’s ability to improve gut permeability through supplementation. One study in particular looked at a group of 107 children and how they responded to L-glutamine. Half of the children took L-glutamine and other other half took a placebo. In just 120 days the children who received the L-glutamine supplement had improved intestinal barrier function.
Research has even shown that L-glutamine can reduce inflammatory bowel disease symptoms including in people with ulcerative colitis! After four weeks patients receiving an L-glutamine supplement saw a reduction in symptoms as well as an increase in Bifidobacterium. Surprisingly enough, once patients stopped taking L-glutamine their symptoms returned. That just goes to the show the powerful connection between L-glutamine and your gut.
How to begin taking L-glutamine.
There are many food medicines that contain L-glutamine such as grass-fed beef, bone broth, and grass-fed dairy. For those who want a plant-based option, red cabbage is an abundant source. By eating cabbage in the form of sauerkraut will increase its gut healing abilities since the fermentation provides your gut with probiotics that also help make L-glutamine more bioavailable.
Now, all of this information is great, but how do you know if it appropriate for your health case? Ultimately it depends on the status of your gut. If you know you are dealing with chronic health problems, adding in L-glutamine can give your healing an extra boost. But if you just need to hit the reset on your gut, adding in bone broth and sauerkraut may be all you need.
If you want a more clinical way to determine if you should add this supplement into your routine you can seek out a practitioner who can run and interpret microbiome labs. And if you do decide to start supplementing anywhere between 2 and 5 grams per day is typically a good dose for most people. You may also want to look for a powdered version rather than capsules since it can be easier for your gut to digest.
If you want to learn more about your own health case please check out our free health evaluation. We offer in person as well as phone and webcam consultations for people across the country and around the world.