As an IBS dietitian I am always reading up on the latest IBS research. On Instagram @AndreaHardyRD, I talk all about glutamine and whether or not it can be beneficial for IBS patients during the low FODMAP diet. Keep reading to learn more!

Can taking glutamine supplements help with the effectiveness of the low FODMAP diet? 💊

While some supplements are well-researched for IBS management, there are still a lot of question marks around other supplements. One of these is glutamine supplements. Glutamine is a non-essential amino acid that we can ingest from foods, but we can also make in the body.

Since IBS is a multifactorial condition and the underlying pathogenesis is not entirely understood, there are many working theories about its development. One theory is that the gut microbiome has been altered, which could lead to increased gut permeability. Some literature suggests that glutamine is useful in reducing this intestinal permeability, as it is a preferred energy source for the cells in the intestine. ✨

In a 2021 study, researchers set out to investigate whether adding a glutamine supplement to the low FODMAP diet would make the intervention more effective.

This particular study took place over 6 weeks with 50 participants who had IBS. All of the participants were instructed to consume a low FODMAP diet and blindly received 15 g of glutamine, or a control each day. NOTE: The control was actually whey isolate protein, which is low lactose and therefore low FODMAP.

Using a tool called the IBS-Symptom Severity Score, they assessed changes in symptoms in both groups.

Here’s what they found:
– Both groups had significant improvements overall – with 88% of the glutamine group scoring at least 45% better after intervention, in comparison with 60% of the control group (P = 0.015)
– The glutamine group saw greater improvements in ‘dissatisfaction of bowel habit’ and reduced ‘interference with community function’
– Both groups had similar improvements in stool frequency, stool consistency, and quality of life.
While this study is small, it highlights the role adjunct therapies, like glutamine might have in IBS management.

From a clinical perspective, glutamine is low risk (cost being the biggest issue), and could be considered as a potential adjunct to therapy – possibly if someone had inadequate response to the low FODMAP diet. RDs – GI docs – do you agree? How will this inform your practice? ⬇️