Serious digestive problems including Crohns, IBS, and Colitis can greatly impact your quality of life. The feeling of constant urgency, and always worrying that there may not be adequate facilities nearby when you need it, affects your life outside of the house.
Most of the commonly prescribed medications just mask the problem. They may provide temporary relief from the stomach cramping and nausea, but you have to deal with the side effects of the medication later. A lot of people would rather deal with the stomach pain than the side effects of the medications.
Along with many other people with serious digestive problems, you may elect to eat less to avoid the nausea and pain associated with having to relieve your self constantly. It may pass as a temporary solution to partially relieving some of the symptoms, but in the long run it damages the intestines. When you do not provide the adequate nutrition to your digestive system, the tissues of your intestines get thin and ulcers and bacteria can develop. The bacteria, which is naturally present in the intestines, can penetrate the intestine lining onto other tissues and eventually enter your bloodstream.
Glutamine has been recognized as a conditionally essential amino acid, meaning that under normal circumstances the body can make (synthesize) adequate quantities, but, during times of stress, including fever, illness, dieting, and chemotherapy, the body cannot make a sufficient amount.
Scientific research has found that glutamine also aids in the normal functioning of the intestines. It has been recognized as the second most important fuel for the cells lining your colon and helps clear out waste through the kidney and liver. Glutamine’s affect on muscle tissue and strength output makes glutamine a good option for bodybuilders. It is also used in the prevention of muscle degeneration that can accompany prolonged bed rest or certain diseases. Glutamine helps to maintain muscle mass and prevent further damage to muscle tissues and fibers.
Glutamine & Crohn’s Disease
Supplementing with glutamine may also help with Crohn’s disease, this chronic inflammatory disease can affect all parts of the digestive tract from the mouth to the anus (the last part of the small intestine is affected in 50% of all cases).
Some cases are not as severe and those suffering from Chron’s Disease have alternating periods of relative health, while other more severe cases have continuous symptoms ranging from inflammation to rectal bleeding. In most cases the disease starts early in life, children with Chron’s disease may experience delayed development and stunted growth.
The most common symptoms of Chron’s disease are constant abdominal pain (often in the lower right area) and diarrhea, caused by the inflammation. Other symptoms include fever, weight loss and rectal bleeding, which if persistent, leads to anemia.
Though there are no proven theories to date regarding the cause of Crohn’s disease, the most popular theory is that the ongoing inflammation in the intestines is the body’s immune system reacting to a bacteria or virus. However, doctors are not certain whether the immune system abnormalities associated with Crohn’s are a result, or the cause, of the disease.
A Case Study on The Youngest Crohn’s disease Patient
According to the book “The Ultimate Nutrient Glutamine” by Judy Shabert MD, Rd and Nancy Ehrli a baby diagnosed with Crohn’s disease had colic and bloody diarrhea from the age of five months old. The steroids that were prescribed by the doctor helped, but they didn’t help the baby’s growth. When the baby turned six years old the mother, desperate, began considering glutamine. It was her understanding from other patients that it was important for bowel growth and, therefore, began feeding her child a liquid containing glutamine at night and during the day.
After five months of the glutamine supplementation, the child’s bowel symptoms reversed. The doctor stopped treating the baby with steroids, but the symptoms did not come back as they had in the past when the drugs were reduced.
A year and a half after the child was taken off the steroid she only had minor gastrointestinal symptoms. She also had a remarkable growth spurt.
Glutamine & Intestinal Repair
It has come to light within the last 15 years that Glutamine plays a very important role in the intestines. Scientists are now trying to understand how this discovery relates to caring for sick individuals.
They once believed that the intestines should not be used during illness or after surgery so that they could repair themselves. We now understand that when an individual doesn’t eat, the cells lining the intestines (the mucosal cells) deteriorate from the lack of stimulation they normally get from digesting food. This lack of digestive stimulation combined with a deficiency in glutamine, cause the tissue that is lining the intestines to become thin and exposed.
So attempting to allow the gut to repair itself by withholding food has the opposite effect. Rather than being repaired, the intestine is injured. Bacteria penetrates the intestinal wall and enters adjacent tissue, and can enter the bloodstream.
Glutamine & Stomach Ulcers – Diarrhea
Glutamine plays a number of roles in the gastrointestinal tract. Scientists have discovered that it’s an effective anti-ulcer drug. Glutamine is helpful for dealing with diarrhea as it diminishes the loss of electrolytes and water from the intestines. It may also lessen the severity of diarrhea by enhancing water and salt intake to the body.
** Glutamine is the most popular anti-ulcer drug in Asia.
Glutamine & Inflammatory Bowel Disease
People with severe gastrointestinal problems, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) may also benefit from supplementing with glutamine. IBD is a gastrointestinal problem that causes a breakdown in the intestinal mucosa, inflammation, and infection.
A study by British and Canadian investigators treated IBD patients with liquid diets containing small amounts of glutamine. After 2 weeks they found that most patients participating in the study no longer had diarrhea and abdominal pain.
Symptoms also improved for other patients who were treated with altered diets and glutamine.
Glutamine & Sickness
When your body is metabolically stressed, you can become catabolic, and you cell tissue starts breaking down. This can happen for a number of reasons which include engaging in strenuous physical activity, the flu, dieting, starvation, infection, injury, or burns.
Metabolic stress can cause muscles to produce significantly more glutamine in order to maintain blood levels. However, concentrations of glutamine within the muscle cells may fall by 50% if enough protein is not taken through the diet. Low protein levels cause the muscles to break down in order to supply the body with the glutamine needed to promote the healing of wounds, fight infections and support the gastrointestinal tract during digestion. Glutamine supplementation gives muscles the ability to make protein and prevents muscle degeneration during these periods.
Foods such as meat, chicken, fish and eggs contain some amount of glutamine, the cooking process quickly denatures (inactivates) it.
Unless you want to eat raw fish everyday, the most efficient way to get more glutamine is to take a glutamine supplement.
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