When you stop to consider your memory and its importance, it is almost impossible to not be in awe. Memories are a reflection of who we are and how we have lived our lives. They are absolutely necessary to our very existence. That implies that age-related diseases that slowly ebb away our memory are not only detrimental to our wellbeing, but also pose a threat to our very identity and existence. Afterall, how do we tell where we’re going if we don’t know where we’re coming from?
A well-fortified memory, immune to unnecessary loss, is a product of the health and vitality of your brain. The applications of a fortified memory are numerous, whether you’re a student preparing for exams, or a career professional looking to stay mentally strong, or an older person looking to preserve and maintain the health of your mind; whatever it may be, there are no limits to what you can achieve with a good memory.
It is still unclear what makes certain people lose their memories quite rapidly while others at the same age remain as sharp as a tack, even though some sources point at lifestyle and diet. However, including substances like glutamine- which is widely known to perform a variety of functions- to your diet and life, certainly helps their case.
Glutamine is absolutely important in maintaining normal processes like optimum immunity and production of interstitial cells. It also elicits several neurological functions which makes it an indispensable amino acid. When your body can no longer produce adequate amounts such as during a severe illness or an injury, supplementation is the next best thing, providing your immune health with necessities to help you recover, as well as having amazing effects on memory.
Supplementation appears to be a valuable option short term and should not be used long term without the approval of a medical professional.
What is Glutamine?
Glutamine belongs to the amino acid family, and just like many other members of this family, glutamine is involved in eliciting a number of functions. Basically, amino acids act as protein’s building blocks. As important as proteins are, amino acids are equally important. Proteins may not function well without them. They aid proteins in carrying out their functions, some of which includes; repairing tissues in the vital organs, aiding the transportation of molecules in the blood, and combating harmful bacteria and viruses, among others.
Glutamine shares many other similarities with other amino acids. For example, glutamine exists as D-glutamine and L-glutamine, and although these forms are very similar, their major difference lies in the arrangement of their molecules. L-glutamine is found mainly in supplements and foods. When purchasing supplements, this substance may be listed as L-glutamine or the general term glutamine may be used. Your body naturally produces L-glutamine. In fact, according to a study, it is the most reoccurring amino acid in the blood.
Popular food sources for Glutamine
It is interesting to note that glutamine is abundant in most of the foods we eat. In fact, it is believed that an average daily diet may contain as much as 3 to 6 grams of glutamine. Animal products provide the most amounts of because of their high levels of protein. However, some plant-based foods also pack high amounts of glutamine. A research was carried out to determine the amount of glutamine that can be found in some popular foods. The results are shown below;
- Skimmed milk; about 8.1%, in 100g of milk.
- Eggs; about 4.4%, in 100g of eggs, 0.6g of glutamine.
- Beef; about 4.8%, in 100g of beef, 1.2g of glutamine.
- White rice; about 11.1%, in 100g of rice, 0.3g of glutamine.
- Tofu; about 9.1%, in 100g of tofu, 0.6g of glutamine.
- Corn; about 16.2%, in 100g of corn, 0.4g of glutamine.
Although plant-based foods like corn and white rice may contain high levels of protein that consist of glutamine, overall, they have low amounts of proteins. Animal products and meat, on the other hand, are some of the best sources of high quantities of glutamine. It is important to increase the amount of protein you consume as this is the best way to guarantee a steady intake of glutamine.
What does Glutamine do to the brain?
There are many ways in which glutamine is important to your body. One of such ways is in promoting brain health which it does by two main methods. L-glutamine is a very important amino acid that plays a huge role in brain optimization. It helps in the production of the glutamate neurotransmitter in your brain. For your brain to remain in an optimized state, there has to be a steady balance between glutamate and glutamine. To maintain this normal balance, your brain utilizes a large amount of energy.
According to research, the Gln/Glu (GABA) cycle utilizes more than 80% of glucose allocated to the brain. Maintaining this balance is absolutely necessary. It prevents all types of dangerous complications like epilepsy, Reye’s syndrome, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, anxiety, depression and addictions.
One study conducted in Korea attempted to measure the amount of glutamine and glutamate situated in the prefrontal cortex. They used mice for this experiment, and introduced several inhibitors to disrupt the normal balance. On the fifth day of testing, glutamine and glutamate levels were observed to decrease significantly and the mice became immobile. However, when L-glutamine was infused directly, all the induced alterations in the animals were reversed. The research revealed that a deficiency of L-glutamine in the brain causes depression and subsequently immobility.
Additionally, L-glutamine can help in the prevention of brain aging. Up until now, there hasn’t been any concrete evidence to pinpoint what exactly facilitates the aging of the human brain. More recently, researchers believe that the dysfunction of mitochondrial cells is the major reason for neurological degeneration, aging and brain diseases. This may lead to the need for sudden increase in the amounts of glutamate neurotransmitter.
According to a study conducted at the School of Medicine in New York University, a major revelation was released. The study involved 28 participants suffering from brain injury and 22 participants used as controls for the experiment. In the 28 participants, the Gln/Glu balance was disrupted, an MRI was then utilized in the measurement of white and gray brain matter. Findings from the study revealed that a long while after brain injury, there were signs of atrophy. This occurred more in the 28 participants with a disrupted Gln/Glu balance than in the control group. This means that the effect of any brain damage, even a mild one can cause severe damage over time as a result of the disruption of the Glu/Gln balance, and an unusual increase in the amount of glutamate.
How Glutamine improves focus
In order to achieve a fully functional brain, there are some necessary substances that are needed to “fuel” the brain to achieve optimal functionality. Specific functions like learning, focus and memory are best carried out when there are adequate neurotransmitters to help. Similarly, when there is an insufficiency of these neurotransmitters, these cognitive functions are affected.
When it comes to improving your ability to focus and concentration and, by extension, other cognitive functions, the role of glutamate is absolutely crucial. On the other hand, GABA acts as an inhibitor. The relationship within these neurotransmitters allows for the cycle to continuously run. Also, GABA helps in the promotion of good sleep habits, which has a huge role to play in the way information is received and processed.
The synergistic relationship between glutamate and GABA exists to ensure the line between focus and relaxation is maintained. When no balance is maintained and there is an excess of one over the other (like excessive amounts of glutamate), it can result in several brain conditions like depression, Lou Gehrig’s and epilepsy. Also, when there’s not enough GABA, you might end up being sleep deprived and this might hinder cognition. Additionally, it is impossible to focus when there are distractions and impulses all around you. GABA also works in reducing the effects these impulses have on your ability to focus.
What are its side effects?
Although there are not many concerns for short term glutamine use, scientists are unsure about long term implications. Several studies have shown that sustained use of these supplements could elicit several changes in your body. Also, including glutamine to your normal diet may alter the way your body processes amino acids. However, adding such supplements to an animal-based diet that is high in protein content may have lesser effects than a plant-based diet with lesser protein content.
If you do decide to begin glutamine supplementation, it is advised you begin with an average dose of about 5 grams daily.