One of the most important things we can do for ourselves as we get older is maintain good muscle mass. It not only keeps us looking trim and fit but it helps us do even the simplest daily activities even better.
Many of my patients do strength training with weights several times a week and this is a good way to maintain muscle tone and strength. Another way to add muscle mass that I advise my patients to do is to add glutamine to their diet everyday to help you repair and continue to build healthy, stay-young muscles.
Glutamine – Your Body’s Most Abundant Energy Source
Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. The one most commonly found in your blood is glutamine. It’s important to maintain good levels of glutamine to keep you healthy. In fact, recent research shows that glutamine greatly enhances your immune system, helps heal ulcers and significantly helps heal symptoms associated with colitis.
Hospital physicians frequently order glutamine for their patients after surgery to help their wounds heal quicker, to treat burn victims, and to help their immune system fight infectious disease. Recently, glutamine has been put to use in treating diarrhea that is often experienced by patients undergoing radiation treatments to their pelvis.
Prolonged exercise can reduce your glutamine levels by as much as 50%.[i] If you are trying to boost your fitness levels or lose weight and are exercising more, you’re going to need more glutamine to help you burn fat instead of muscles during exercise.
That’s why glutamine is a favorite for body builders. It helps restore glycogen to your muscles, which is a power source used during exercise. It’s also a “nitrogen donor,” which means that it helps repair muscle. It also helps you to “bulk up” and build bigger and better muscles. But ladies, don’t worry, you won’t end up with “man muscles” using glutamine, as you don’t have enough of the male hormone testosterone. What you will build, however, is firm, cut muscles that will not only make you stronger but also help you look sleek and sexy.
What’s more, glutamine helps your body release growth hormone, a powerful substance that helps you burn fat and build muscle. It’s a friend of weight loss and one of the keys to looking and feeling young.
Glutamine Protects Your Heart, Immune System and Intestines
Many of my patients use NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like aspirin or Advil, for occasional aches and pains of injuries or just over-working. I recommend they also supplement with some glutamine as these drugs can also cause ulcers or intestinal bleeding.
Supplementing with glutamine can help repair – even reverse – damage caused by NSAIDs. How? Glutamine is the primary source of energy for the cells of your intestinal lining. As I mentioned above, it’s also been used to treat colitis, Crohn’s disease and diarrhea. And that’s not all. Here’s just a partial list of glutamine’s many benefits:
- Strengthens the Immune System: Glutamine powers the cells of the immune system, including T-cells. Even under stress, glutamine fires up your defenses and stimulates powerful antioxidants.
- Powers the Heart: Glutamine increases endurance by creating energy for the heart. It even helps to regulate blood pressure.
- Fights Hypoglycemia: If your blood sugar drops, glutamine can easily break down in the liver to provide you with more glucose. This means your body won’t have to borrow glucose from muscle tissue. (You’ll lose fat instead of muscle.)
How To Supplement with Glutamine
First, let me tell you that glutamine is very easy to find in almost every health food store. You will find it priced reasonably, varying some between different brands. It comes in pill form or powder. I like the powdered form best as it’s easy to just add a few tablespoons to water or juice, or even a protein shake, every day. Glutamine has a slightly sweet taste on its own so you will not need to add anything to it. .
Keep in mind, that foods you eat, like chicken, fish, and dairy contain glutamine. In addition protein shakes you may consume can also contain glutamine (read labels) and you don’t want to overdo supplementing with glutamine. If you start experiencing stomach cramps, cut back on the amount of glutamine you are consuming.
Here’s what I recommend to my patients for the proper use of glutamine. Be sure to first read the directions on your particular label for correct measurements. Generally, 1 heaping teaspoon is equal to about 5 grams of glutamine.
Below are my conservative measurements that are intended for the general population. Depending on your muscle condition, you may need more glutamine.
- Building Muscle: Take 5 grams (about 1 tsp) of glutamine after your workout.
- Symptom Relief/Healing Ulcers/Colitis: You can use as much as 20 grams a day.
- Immune system booster: 5 grams a day should be adequate.
As I tell my patients, keeping your muscles healthy and strong is key to staying youthful and active. Getting a little assistance from glutamine can go a long way to help you achieve that goal and keep you out on the dance floor well past your 90’s!
Mark Rosenberg, M.D.
 Greenwell I. The Essential “Non-Essential” Amino Acid. LE Magazine. Sep 1999.
Glutamine Functions, http://www.news-medical.net/health/Glutamine-Functions.aspx
photo credit: build-muscles.maxupdates.tv