Science Update

New study demonstrates glutamine decreases intestinal permeability in runners


In the last year and a half we have seen increased evidence of the prevalence of intestinal permeability in athletes. I shared previous studies on heavy exercise-induced intestinal permeability in this population.

When it comes to nutritional supplements in athletes many people usually think of nutrients that enhance energy and sports performance. However athletes commonly suffer from gut issues that are often not identified or addressed. Due to the stresses they put on their bodies and increased metabolic demands many athletes often struggle with debilitating gut issues as well as more serious conditions such as inflammatory bowel and autoimmune disorders.

'Leaky gut' occurs from dysfunction in the intestinal barrier. This barrier in the gut is only one cell layer thick. It is essential for the absorption of nutrients and preventing large molecules and bacteria from getting into the blood stream. This issue is a particular problem for those taking part in heavy exercise or any form of vigorous strength training such as powerlifters CrossFit athletes and strongman competitors. Gastrointestinal discomfort is a common complaint among endurance athletes who participate in marathons and triathlons as well.

In a study published last Friday in the European Journal of Applied Physiology researchers demonstrated that acute supplementation with glutamine mitigates intestinal permeability in runners. It makes sense to consider BCAAs and/or glutamine powder prior to or during exercise to help prevent gastrointestinal barrier dysfunction.

In addition other studies have demonstrated that oral supplementation with colostrum decreases intestinal permeability. These findings demonstrate the importance of colostrum and glutamine in helping to prevent leaky gut and are important nutrients to consider for athletes. For those individuals who have a sensitivity to dairy and cannot use colostrum serum-derived bovine immunoglobulin/protein isolate (SBI) is a great alternative to normalize the gut microbiota and decrease gut permeability. The other advantage of this for athletes is the addition protein content with BCAAs levels superior to whey along with high levels of IgG which helps reduce inflammation decreasing mucosal damage.

By Michael Jurgelewicz DC DACBN DCBCN CNS 


Source: Pugh JN Sage S et al. Glutamine supplementation reduces markers of intestinal permeability during running in the heat in a dose-dependent manner. European Journal of Applied Physiology. 2017 Oct 20.