Update 7/228/20. Is glutamine safe if I have Celiac disease and am sensitive to gluten? I was recently asked this question and thought others might be wondering the same thing so let’s talk about it.
What is Celiac Disease?
Celiac (or Celiac disease) is a disorder where people have trouble digesting a protein called gluten which is often found in foods made from wheat, grain, rye, and barley. People who have Celiac are often said to be gluten sensitive or gluten intolerant. When people eat foods that contain gluten, the protein triggers a response by the immune system which damages the small intestine. This, in turn, reduces the absorption of food. As you can guess, Celiac can be devastating.
Just a few of Celiac disorder symptoms are:
Because of these and other symptoms, many people opt to eat a gluten-free diet.
What Is Glutamine
Glutamine is a popular amino acid. Because glutamine sounds like gluten, some athletes and health-conscious individuals who are gluten-sensitive wonder if they can use this amino acid as a supplement.
Glutamine is one of the amino acids that make up the gluten protein but both are not the same. One big difference is that we make glutamine. As such, it's classified as a non-essential amino acid.
Conversely, the human body does not make gluten.
Because of this difference glutamine supplements are unlikely to produce the same symptoms as eating foods that contain gluten. That said what makes this topic confusing for some is that about 40% of the amino acids in gliadin (one of the proteins that make up gluten) is glutamine.
What about Glutamine Peptides?
I want to make the distinction between the amino acid L glutamine and glutamine peptides. In theory glutamine peptides (small chains of glutamine proteins) may elicit celiac symptoms if you are gluten sensitive if the peptides are derived from wheat or other gluten-containing foods.
In theory, the amino acid, should not have the same effect. That said if you are sensitive to gluten, start supplementation with less than recommended for the first week to see what your symptoms might be. To be extra safe, use protein supplements that state they are “gluten-free” if you have a gluten intolerance.
Can Glutamine Help Celiac?
Some people with Celiac disease have said that glutamine helps reduce some of the symptoms while others say that they are sensitive to the amino acid. According to Marjorie Geisner, RD, while in theory, glutamine may help some people, “when in doubt, leave it out”.
Remember that glutamine is a non-essential amino acid. You and I make this stuff! Yes, under some circumstances, the amino acid may help bolster the immune systems of those engaged in hard-core exercise, most people do not work out enough to benefit from glutamine supplements.