Glutamine and Curcumin Can Improve Gut Health
Submitted by Integrative Therapeutics
Of the 20 amino acids, glutamine is the most abundant in the human body—and among the most important. Stored primarily in the muscles and the lungs, glutamine provides fuel for rapidly dividing enterocytes (the cells that line the intestine). However, many people do not get enough glutamine to support a healthy gut. Considered a conditionally essential amino acid because it is produced by the body and also obtained from foods like meat, dairy, spinach, and cabbage, glutamine levels can be reduced as a result of an injury, infection, surgery, or prolonged stress. Fortunately, oral glutamine supplementation may promote healthy intestinal permeability and immune function, support healthy tissue repair, and enhance intestinal barrier function in both adults and children.
Clinical Studies Support Glutamine
Glutamine supplementation has been shown to optimize intestinal and digestive health in a variety of populations. In a trial of 28 Crohn's patients, Benjamin and colleagues reported that those taking 0.5 g/kg ideal body weight daily for two months had reduced permeability as indicated by their lactulose mannitol excretion ratio (Benjamin J, et al. 2012). Another study of premature infants by Sevastiadou and colleagues documented beneficial effects on intestinal integrity after receiving 0.3 g/kg of oral glutamine per day during their first 30 days of life (Sevastiadou S, et al. 2011). Li and colleagues also found that glutamine supplementation supported healthy intestinal barrier function in a group of patients undergoing chemotherapy compared to placebo (Li Y, et al. 2006).
Adding Curcumin to the Equation
Recent studies suggest that curcumin, the active compound in the curry spice turmeric, may also support a healthy intestinal barrier function. This is due to curcumin's antioxidant properties, as well as its ability to help maintain healthy inflammatory pathways and support the health of intestinal cells, particularly in the colon. A recent study review by Ali and colleagues noted that curcumin significantly improves survival and colonic morphology, dampens local cytokine and chemokine production, and reduces mucosal neutrophil infiltration (Ali T, et al. 2012). Yet curcumin's poor bioavailability has limited its usefulness. However, a new water-dispersible curcumin (Theracurmin™) has been developed which Sasaki and colleagues found provides 27 times more bioavailability than standard curcumin (Sasaki H, et al. 2011). Adding this novel form of curcumin to glutamine supplementation may support intestinal health and digestion more effectively than either nutrient on its own.
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Sevastiadou S, et al. J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2011;24(10):1294-300.