Glutamine, glutamate, diet and cancer

Glutamine, glutamate, diet and cancer

If you have cancer, eating bone broth and high protein may not be wise 

Bone broth (which contains glutamine) is often claimed to be ’good for you’ and is plugged by people like Ty Bollinger from The Truth about Cancer in the USA. But an expert on their 2016 video series previously said that glutamate drove cancer. Glutamine, glutamate? Aren’t they the same thing? How can they advocate opposites?

Understandably, we have been getting a lot of confused people with questions on this. I’m not surprised ordinary folk are confused, though. In my searches I found even top scientists in peer-reviewed research papers were using the word glutamine when it should have been glutamate!

The Truth is that there is clear evidence that cancer cells have large numbers of glutamate receptor sites - and there is a good number of research studies showing that glutamate can definitely be a fuel for cancer. If you have cancer, frankly, you’d be wise not to touch bone broth. Nor too much protein in general.

The benefits of glutamine

Glutamine definitely has health benefits. For example, it boosts brain health, muscle strength and lean mass. It is also important in gut health - for example, it can help heal your gut, but it’s not the only way to do this.

The Human Microbiome project in the USA concluded that your gut gets ’ill’ first, then you get ill; and you cannot get fully better until it gets better.

It gets ill? It loses diversity and volume of bacteria. The gut bacteria control the immune system, the production of certain key vitamins and short-chain esters that restrict triglycerides, cholesterol formation and inflammation. Also they keep pathogens in check and consume yeasts (about 2.2 pounds a night).

In almost every cancer patient I talk to, there was either a prolonged period of antibiotic or prescription drug use, and/or a prolonged period of stress several years before they developed cancer. Drugs, antibiotics and stress damage the commensal bacteria (the good guys), allowing yeasts to thrive, punch holes in the gut wall, and even get into your blood stream. This can make you feel extremely tired and fatigued and even lead to colitis or IBS, and even Lupus. 

Glutamine and gut repair - Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the human body. It is widely credited with helping to ’heal’ the gut. It can repair damaged cells in the gut wall and is also an important amino acid source for immunoglobulin production inside the gut, and hence the immune system. See

But, would I take glutamine in a probiotic supplement if I had cancer? No. That is why I created Probio8 Max - a multi-strain probiotic with no sugar and no glutamate in it. Designed with purpose, instead it has L.rhamnosus to heal your gut lining and B.infantis to strengthen your troubled microbiome. Just take it when you eat your Rainbow salad.

Go to: Probio8Max

Glutamine and glutamate - so, what’s the difference?

Glutamine is a non-essential amino acid. You can, and do, make it yourself. In very large quantities.

Ty Bollinger in his recent series, ‘The Truth about Cancer’ had a whole section devoted to the wondrous healing benefits of bone broth - a major supplier of … Glutamine.

Glutamate (also known as glutamic acid) is a non-essential amino acid. It can come into the body in a variety of ways - for example, in protein or as MSG, mono-sodium glutamate. It can be provided intact or in bonded form.

But in the body it can also be made as the breakdown product of a number of compounds - yes, from glutamine, but also from folic acid/folate and from glucose. And glutamate is widely present in all our protein stores in muscles.

Glutamate is also essential for brain and nervous function. It is the major transmitter in nerves. People with more glutamate receptors tend to have higher IQs. However, glutamate uptake by the brain across the blood brain barrier is very low. The vast majority is as a result of conversion from glucose inside the brain.

Glutamate and cancer

There is already clear evidence that glutamate receptors are found on cancer cells - in the brain glioma cells seem to have more than their fair share, and now there are studies showing that so do other cancer cells.  

Another study linked higher blood glutamate levels to higher Gleeson scores and a more aggressive prostate cancer. In breast cancer, glutamate can disrupt homeostasis, and pathological conditions including pain. Breast cancer cells secrete high levels of glutamate, and this is linked with more bone metastases. In fact scientists are looking at ways of cutting glutamate production in cancer!

Clearly, there are concerns over high glutamate and people with cancer.

Ketogenic Diets:

Professor Seyfried and Dr. D’Agostino have championed the Ketogenic Diet with brain cancer. The origins of the diet were with Epilepsy, where children in particular have more fits with greater carbohydrate consumption.

Seyfried in his major review on the Ketogenic Diet in 2012, which we covered at CANCERactive, clearly admitted that sometimes, people who were on an almost nil carb diet had their cancer cells turn to glutamate as an energy source, so he endorsed and uses low protein as part of the Ketogenic Diet. While carbs are limited to just 2% of calories consumption, protein is limited to not much more: 8%.

But we know anyway that protein also feeds the mTOR pathway for cancer progression - high protein diets in cases of cancer are not particularly clever anyway. mTor is linked to a signaling pathway controlling growth or repair in the body. To up regulate the mTor pathway, you need to limit protein consumption. This has been shown to increase longevity and reduce cancer levels.

So, limited protein, not just glutamine might well be health-positive if you have cancer.

A Diet for Cancer - The Rainbow Diet 

We have been consistent since 2004 on our views on the best anti-cancer diet:

We advocate the Rainbow Diet - and I have seen nothing to change my views. 

    *  Low carbohydrate consumption, which is only whole, 

    *  Plus lowish protein (and switch meat to fish where possible), 

    *  Plus high good fats (EVOO, avocado, nuts and seeds, fish oils), at least 70:30 over bad fats (saturated fats like dairy, coconut oil etc.)

    *  Plus, high levels of colourful vegetables because they have bioactive compounds with Epigenetic benefits that can correct cancer cells. 

Thus there are four main lines of attack in the Rainbow Diet, not just one or two and it is not surprising then that there is a good deal of research showing it reduces cancer risk - preventing cancer and increasing survival times.

Glutamine is not the only amino acid that is a cause for concern. There is the essential amino acid methionine. Essential? You must eat it; you cannot make it in the body. Methionine is also essential to cancer cells. The fruit-only, low methionine, NORI protocol, sounds a good idea until you realize you have to stop it every three weeks to allow the patient to consume some essential amino acids contain methionine. 

Glutamine, glutamate and cancer – the bottom line

While it is impossible to stop consuming protein completely, if you have cancer you certainly should not consume too much. 

In my opinion, you should consider a sensible protein-restrictive diet like the Rainbow Diet as a part of your anti-cancer programme. And, in this context, consuming Bone broth is not a very clever idea.

Given the abundance of glutamate, its essential nature and the volume of different precursor compounds already in the body, restricting protein excessively to control glutamate is rather like expecting to stop the Ark Royal sinking if all the sailors all throw their hats overboard. Because of this, I do have serious questions of the extreme Ketogenic Diet and its severe glucose and protein restriction, and its long-term viability.

While Ketogenic advocates talk of glutamate restriction, m-TOR may be an even better reason to cut excessive protein and Bone Broth consumption from your anti-cancer diet. 

Be wise. If you have cancer, stick to the Rainbow Diet. And make sure you use probiotics with purpose to Heal your Gut!


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