Ulcerative Colitis and Sweet Potato

Glutamine & colitis

Glutamine is something I often see UCers asking about on various forums. It's used by quite a few Ulcerative Colitis sufferers, and for some, it has been beneficial to their symptoms. So I think it's worth having a page about it.

Glutamine

Glutamine - Colitis

Glutamine is an amino acid (organic compound that combines with other amino acids to form proteins). It's the most abundant amino acid in the body and helps to produce tissue - 90% is used for creation of muscle mass, hence why you may have heard of it as a body building supplement.

The body is able to produce enough glutamine for its regular requirements, which means it's a non-essential amino acid. In healthy individuals, almost all tissues in the body synthesize glutamine.

However, where the body becomes metabolically stressed, it can become essential, and this is when it may have benefits for UCers.

Glutamine and the gut

Basically, glutamine aids gut mucosal integrity, which means it can help repair the intestinal lining as well as prevent gut permeability, something that's linked to Leaky Gut Syndrome.

The cells of the intestine are eager consumers of glutamine; it's a source of fuel for them. Without glutamine the cells can waste away, which means the integrity of the intestinal lining becomes compromised. This then, underlines the importance of glutamine to those with compromised intestines due to colitis, and explains why it is essential during times of metabolic stress.

The proven roles of glutamine include:

 

  • promoting gut mucosal integrity by acting as an energy source and preventing bacterial translocation (bacterial translocation = migration of bacteria or bacterial products from the intestine into the tissue)
  • providing a major fuel source for cells of the immune system
  • improving nitrogen balance in times of stress

Glutamine supplement

Glutamine Powder - Colitis

Glutmine is available as a supplement in powder and tablet form; it's generally called L-Glutamine. The "L" means levo or "left" and refers to how Amino Acids fit together, although it's not relevant when purchasing supplements.

Most UCers tend to take the powder and I guess it makes sense in terms of being the easiest to absorb. The powder is tasteless and mixes easily into liquid. Taking it in a glass of water seems the most common approach.

How much powder UCers take differs a lot - I have heard of 1g per day up to 18g (and higher) split into separate doses throughout the day. As ever, trial and error is the key and I would always start with a small amount of any supplement to make sure it doesn't cause issues.

When I first started taking Glutamine powder I took 1g for a few days and then increased it by 1g in 3 day increments e.g. I took 2g for 3 days and then increased to 3g for 3 days etc.; always in the morning; 30 mins before eating.

I eventually took 5g per day for the whole course of my flare up and continued for a few weeks after - basically until the powder ran out. There doesn't appear to be any definitive answer as to how long it should be taken for, but an accepted daily dose appears to be 5g for long term usage, with larger amounts for shorter periods if there is extra stress on the body system.

Whether the powder helped me is difficult to say because I used other supplements and changed my diet as well. It's worth pointing out that my last flare-up was the mildest and shortest so far, and perhaps L-Glutamine powder was part of that.

I am happy to say that I've read quite a few posts on forums by UCers stating that L-Glutamine helped their symptoms. It's good to hear testaments from those that have actually used it, although as ever, there were some that said it didn't do anything for them.

Glutamine in food

Glutamine Red Cabbage Juice - Colitis

Glutamine is naturally occuring in foods such as meat, poultry, seafood, dairy, eggs. However, to get what is considered a supplemental amount, you would need to take more of it.

Red cabbage provides the most abundant form of Glutamine in vegetables and is therefore a great way to get supplemental benefits naturally. It's also the reason that you will hear about some UCers having success by drinking red cabbage juice.

After I stopped taking the L-Glutamine powder, I decided to start drinking red cabbage juice as part of my regime. In the film 'Super Juice Me' a UCer drinks red cabbage juice with great success, although their drink contained other ingredients. I replicate this juice up to a point.

Many UCers ask about the juice recipe in the film 'Super Juice Me', so here are the exact ingredients used by the Ulcerative Colitis sufferer:

 

  • 1/2 head of red cabbage
  • 2 apple
  • Approx. 5" cucumber
  • A knob of ginger

Personally, I think that a natural version of a supplement is better for us, and more successfully absorbed due to it's bioavailability with other nutrients in the food. For that reason I would use L-Glutamine powder during a flare-up, when it may be difficult to drink cabbage juice, then once the flare subsides, I would drink cabbage juice to get extra Glutamine. Having said that, the UCer in the 'Super Juice Me' film drank cabbage juice whilst in a flare-up with success - as ever, trial and error is the key!

I hope you found some useful info on Glutamine on this page, and see some improvements if you decide to use it supplementally.