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Why the Amino Acid L-Glutamine Is So Important for Gut Health and Repairing Your Gut Lining (and the Foods That Have Plenty of It)

0 2 years ago

By Nathalie Alonso

When it comes to gut health, keeping the intestinal epithelium—aka the gut lining—strong is a top priority. That’s because the cells in the intestinal epithelium have multiple, important jobs: They help digest food, absorb nutrients, and prevent bacteria and other toxins from seeping out from the intestines into the rest of the body (where they can wreak havoc in the form of infection and inflammation).

“Epithelial cells act as gates, almost like TSA agents: They don’t allow everything to come through,” says gastroenterologist Ali Rezaie, MD, MSc, Medical Director of the Gastrointestinal Motility Program at Cedars-Sinai, Los Angeles and co-author of The Microbiome Connection: Your Guide to IBS, SIBO, and Low-Fermentation Eating. “But if the epithelial cells are damaged, which we call hyperpermeability or ‘leaky gut,’ then bacteria can come inside the body and produce a microinflammation state.”

Foods with glutamine

There’s a good chance you already consume foods rich in glutamine on a regular basis. According to Dr. Rezaie, many elements of the Mediterranean diet—a largely plant-based diet that also includes whole grains, seafood, eggs, and lean poultry—are rich in glutamine, including fish, chicken, and eggs. Folks on strictly vegan or vegetarian diets can get their glutamine from the aforementioned whole grains, as well as cruciferous vegetables like cabbage and broccoli. However, for individuals for whom cruciferous vegetables cause bloating or distention, Dr. Rezaie recommends two other potent sources of glutamine: carrots and beets.

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