Crohn’s disease is something more than three million people live with. It’s a chronic condition that needs to be managed from the time of diagnosis onward, and it can require a comprehensive approach to management. For sufferers, much of your lifestyle revolves around keeping Crohn’s in check: diet, exercise, stress management and wellness management are all factors that require careful control. For most people, diet is the biggest consideration.
Supplementation has become an important part of managing Crohn’s disease for most people. The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation recommends supplementing calcium, folic acid, iron, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, Vitamins A, E and K, and zinc. Each offers properties to help maintain digestive health and control the symptoms most commonly associated with Crohn’s. But these aren’t the only supplements that can help. More and more, Crohn’s sufferers are recognizing the benefits of glutamine as a supplement.
The effect of Crohn’s on digestive health
Like many chronic conditions, Crohn’s disease is a product of inflammation. It’s a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that primarily affects the digestive track, and can spread deeper into the intestinal tract over time. It begins with persistent inflammation and progressively gets worse if untreated, leading to extreme pain, diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss and malnutrition.
Crohn’s makes it difficult for people to function, and can greatly impact their quality of life. Attacks can come on at random and last for indeterminate periods of time, disrupting everyday life and causing everything from stress, to anxiety, to depression—all of which feed the inflammation. It’s a condition that will get worse without treatment, but can be treated with a high level of effectiveness if you take the steps to manage it.
What is glutamine and how does it help?
Any doctor will tell you that diet and exercise are the two most mitigating factors in dealing with Crohn’s. Eating a fiber-rich diet and cutting down on processed foods and sugars are a quick way to see results. Keeping stress levels low is also great for inflammation. There are, of course, medications for treating Crohn’s as well. But beyond this, most people will need some form of supplementation to keep their gut in homeostasis.
More and more, glutamine is being recommended as a supplement for Crohn’s sufferers. According to the Canadian Society of Intestinal Research, “in metabolically stressed individuals there is an increased demand for glutamine, making supplementation essential. This includes people with acute or chronic bowel disease, burns, trauma, sepsis, or immune disorders, and can include people with temporary increased metabolic needs resulting from extreme physical activities.”
Glutamine offers anti-inflammatory properties that help protect the gut from inflammation, and increase the threshold for that inflammation. This can help lower the symptoms of Crohn’s and protect sufferers from the unexpected, debilitating symptoms of an episode.
Other benefits of glutamine on the body
Glutamine isn’t just great for the gut! As an essential amino acid, glutamine is widely used by the body for several important physiological processes. It’s most widely regarded as an immune booster and is a fuel source for white blood cells. It’s also helpful in removing harmful toxins from your body as part of the lymphatic system.
If you take a workout supplement or are an athlete, you know glutamine as part of your recovery plan. Glutamine and protein are commonly paired to improve muscle recovery. In fact, casein protein has abundant levels of glutamine, which makes it a favorite of endurance athletes. Glutamine is also helpful in building muscle and soft-tissue repair, which makes it an important amino acid to consider if you’re recovering from injury, surgery or a particularly intensive workout.
Finally, you might actually be under a glutamine deficiency if you’re stressed. When your body is stressed, it isn’t producing enough glutamine. This also connect to Crohn’s, which tends to flare up under high levels of stress.
Keep Crohn’s in check
Living with Crohn’s is all about managing its symptoms. To do that takes scrutiny of your diet, physical activity and general wellness. Above all, it means taking extra steps to prevent flare-ups and persistent issues. Supplementing your diet is a great way to not only manage symptoms, but to provide the body with everything it needs to maintain homeostasis and avoid flare-ups. Glutamine is an increasingly important part of that for many people.
We invite you to continue looking into the benefits of glutamine and the science of how your body fights off intestinal inflammation—especially from a chronic illness. As research about glutamine continues to compound, it won’t be long until this supplement becomes a mainstay in the lives of many Crohn’s sufferers.