Glutamine plays a crucial role in proper immune functioning. This is particularly important for anyone engaged in regular intense training which can significantly reduce the body’s the glutamine stores. Consuming sufficient glutamine to counteract this can therefore be crucial to maintaining optimal functioning and for recovery from training.
Glutamine, Stress and Immune function
Glutamine is utilised at a high rate by cells of the immune system. In man, plasma and skeletal muscle glutamine levels are lowered by sepsis (the presence in tissues of harmful bacteria and their toxins, typically through infection of a wound), injury, burns, surgery and endurance exercise and in athletes that “over-train”. The lowered plasma glutamine properties are most likely the result of demand for glutamine by organs such as the liver and kidneys and also glutamine needed by the gut and immune system, exceeding the supply from the diet and muscles. Studies have shown that adding glutamine in the diet improves the response to a bacterial challenge or stress. Adding additional glutamine like this has been seen to stimulate the immune system, maintain nitrogen balance to preserve muscle mass and improve gut wholeness.
How Does Glutamine Boost the Immune System
To appreciate Glutamine’s immune boosting properties you must first understand what happens to the body during periods of intense training. Whilst at rest your immune system functions efficiently, when you train at an intensity higher than 85% of your maximum heart rate (near exhaustion), your oxygen usage vastly increases. This causes lactic acid to accumulate in the muscles, which in turn alters your PH and causes your body to pull alkaline reserves from bones and other mineral dense sources. Furthermore, muscle tissue is torn and muscle energy stores are depleted. All of this can possibly result in an ‘immune system crash’. Enter glutamine to improve the efficiency of cells and in turn help fight bacteria and viruses and ensure your immune system remains healthy even during periods of intense training.
As noted above, glutamine plays an essential role within our bodies and within the immune system, gut, kidneys and liver. It is important to have glutamine containing foods in every meal that you eat – and consider additional glutamine powder supplementation to achieve the required levels of glutamine for your lifetsyle and training routine.