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Leaky gut: help from L-glutamine

The gut is the largest immune system in the human body. It goes without saying that the entire body suffers when it is disrupted. Leaky gut syndrome is on the rise worldwide. In our new blog post, we introduce you to the causes of leaky gut and show you how the amino acid L-glutamine can help with leaky gut

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Table of contents:

  1. What is leaky gut syndrome?
  2. Disorders of the intestinal mucosal barrier
  3. Causes of leaky gut
  4. Consequences of a leaky gut
  5. L-glutamine leads to regeneration of the intestinal mucosa
  6. Help with leaky gut
  7. How much L-glutamine should you take for leaky gut?

What is leaky gut syndrome?

Leaky gut syndrome refers to a "leaky gut". Among other things, it is triggered by harmful substances, intolerances and a diet high in sugar and fat. These factors damage the intestinal mucosa and make it easier for harmful substances to enter the body. The symptoms then manifest themselves as bloating, intestinal discomfort, fatigue, headaches and a weakened immune system.

If leaky gut syndrome is not treated, serious illnesses can occur. For example, chronic intestinal diseases, allergies and autoimmune diseases are associated with leaky gut syndrome.

Disorders of the intestinal mucosal barrier

The mucous membranes of the digestive tract represent an internal protective barrier of the body to protect it from harmful environmental influences such as bacteria, viruses, toxins and antibiotics. The intestinal mucosa also produces defence substances such as mucus, antibodies such as secretory immunoglobulin A (sIgA) and antimicrobial substances. The antibody sIgA binds harmful substances and thus relieves the intestinal mucosa.

The spaces between the mucosal cells are also connected to each other by so-called tight junctions. Tight junctions are proteins that seal the interstitial spaces and thus prevent harmful substances from entering the bloodstream unhindered.

In leaky gut syndrome, this protective barrier is disrupted. The tight junctions no longer function properly, resulting in gaps between the individual intestinal mucosa cells. Furthermore, the production of defence substances such as sIgA is reduced. As a result, harmful substances can pass through the intestinal wall and cause demonstrable damage to the body. The intestinal mucosa becomes thinner and the intestinal flora is disrupted.

Causes of a leaky gut

The following causes can change the intestinal flora and thus increase the permeability of the intestine:

  • Unhealthy diet with lots of sugar, saturated fatty acids and little fibre
  • Physical and mental stress
  • Medication (especially antibiotics, painkillers and cortisone)
  • Infections caused by fungi, viruses and bacteria
  • Smoking and alcohol
  • Food intolerances such as gluten

Consequences of a leaky gut

With leaky gut, harmful substances that should actually be excreted by the body enter the bloodstream. Foreign substances trigger defence reactions in the blood. This can lead to inflammation in the gut. Intolerances and allergies can also occur. If the harmful substances resemble the body's own proteins, autoimmune diseases can develop.

Consequences can include the following:

  • Belly complaints (stomach pain, diarrhoea, flatulence, constipation, bloating, gastritis)
  • Dysregulation of the immune system
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Development of chronic inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Deteriorated nutrient absorption and thus development of deficiency symptoms
  • Diagnosis

    The permeability can be tested using the lactulose mannitol test in urine. Zonulin, which regulates intestinal permeability, can be measured in the blood. Stool diagnostics for histamine, IgA, calprotectin and alpha-1-antitrypsin, among others, are now obsolete.

    In addition, other factors should be clarified beforehand: for example, allergies, enzyme defects, inflammation of the mucous membranes, digestive disorders, immune deficiencies and intolerances such as lactose.

    L-glutamine leads to the regeneration of the intestinal mucosa

    L-glutamine is an amino acid that has a positive effect on the gut when taken regularly. The amino acid provides energy for the new formation of intestinal cells. Glutamine therefore helps the intestinal mucosa to regenerate more quickly in the event of damage. The amino acid also prevents the breakdown of tight junctions so that the protective barrier is maintained. In the event of a glutamine deficiency, fewer tight junctions are formed and the permeability of the intestine increases. Glutamine also supports the function of the immune system.

    Glutamine can therefore reduce the permeability of the intestinal mucosa, maintain the intestinal barrier and alleviate inflammation in the intestine.

    In situations such as stress, illness or extreme physical exertion, the body's own synthesis of glutamine is not guaranteed and glutamine must be supplemented. This is also shown by a study carried out in 2004 on 20 study participants: 10 test subjects received glutamine supplements daily for a week following abdominal surgery. The other group received a placebo. In the placebo group, the glutamine levels in the blood decreased significantly and the leaky gut test was positive. The group that received the glutamine supplements recovered more quickly and experienced fewer intestinal complaints.

    For people who suffer from leaky gut or generally have problems with a sensitive gut, it is therefore advisable to take L-glutamine regularly.

    Also important: An adequate supply of zinc (e.g. with our zinc tablets), Omega-3 fatty acids as well as antioxidants such as vitamins C, E and A and selenium, as leaky gut syndrome leads to increased formation of free radicals.

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    L-Glutamine Ultrapure Capsules
    L-Glutamine Ultrapure Capsules

    Help with leaky gut

    • Change your diet - high in fibre, low in saturated fatty acids and sugar
    • In case of intolerances: Avoid these foods
    • Supplementation with L-glutamine
    • Correcting nutrient deficiencies
    • Avoid alcohol, nicotine and unnecessary medication
    • Regular exercise
    • Drink plenty of non-carbonated water
    • Avoid stress, e.g. through relaxation exercises

    Note: If antibiotics are necessary, then take probiotics or glutamine at the same time.

    How much L-glutamine should you take for leaky gut?

    The usual daily dosage is around 20 g of L-glutamine per day. It is best if the amount is divided into several small portions and taken throughout the day.

    Sources:

    • Griffiths et al. Six-month outcome of critically ill patients given glutamine-supplemented parenteral nutrition. Nutrition (1997) 13: 295-302.
    • Hammarqvist et al. Addition of glutamine to total parenteral nutrition after elective abdominal surgery spares free glutamine in muscle, counteracts the fall in muscle protein synthesis and improves nitrogen balance. Ann Surg (1989) 209(4). 
    • Hollander, Daniel. "Intestinal permeability, leaky gut, and intestinal disorders." Current gastroenterology reports 1.5 (1999): 410-416.
    • Clayburgh, Daniel R., Le Shen, and Jerrold R. Turner. A porous defence: the leaky epithelial barrier in intestinal disease. Laboratory investigation3 (2004).
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