Amino Acids – the building blocks of life…
With 2016’s healthy resolutions well and truly over for a many, the search begins for a more sustainable way to keep fit and healthy. Naturally and understandably, many focus on the sugar content of foods and drinks which has dominated many of the media headlines of late. Vitamins and minerals are also high on the agenda when making dietary choices. As consumers become more empowered, doing their own research and making their own decisions about health and well-being, Amino Acids have become more prominent.
What are Amino Acids?
Amino acids are organic compounds that combine to form proteins. Amino acids and proteins are the building blocks of life and are integral for many basic bodily functions such as healthy cognitive function, breaking down food, growing and repairing muscle to name but a few. They are readily found in meat, fish and dairy products as well as some fruit and vegetables. There are 20 Amino Acids. These are broken down into three categories; essential (required from a dietary source), conditionally essential (produced naturally and required dietary supplementation) and non-essential (produced naturally within the body):
Glutamine is the most abundant Amino Acid in the human body, making up 61% of your skeletal issue. It is usually obtained in the diet through various meats and dairy products. Glutamine is a unique Amino Acid, in that it is regarded as ‘conditionally essential’. This means that the Amino Acid is produced naturally in the muscles but during times of stress, both physical and mental, the body’s demand outweighs the supply and a dietary source is relied upon to bring Glutamine levels back into equilibrium.
Glutamine and Well-being
Glutamine is a primary energy source for the immune, digestive and central nervous system.
Studies have shown Glutamine is metabolised within the white bloods cells, providing fuel for the immune system. In times of illness, when the immune system becomes overworked, Glutamine levels have be found to reduce by half that of when in good health. Glutamine, therefore, will not only boost the immune system, but also help reduce the recovery time from illness.
Glutamine acts as a precursor for the inhibitory neurotransmitter Gamma Aminobutyric Acid (GABA). GABA plays an important role in behavior, cognition, and the body’s response to stress. Research suggests that GABA helps to control fear and anxiety when neurons become overexcited.
Harvard Medical School published research to show the neurological benefits of Glutamine. After four weeks of daily Glutamine intake, stress, depression and anxiety was found to fall by around 50% versus a control group
Glutamine also plays a vital role in maintaining the digestive system and protecting against the potentially harmful chemicals that are ingested from processed food.