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QUESTION: I have been on the O diet before and loved it. Want to start again and can't seem to get through the first 3-5 days that it takes for me to get over the obsessive cravings, especially to wheat. Any suggestions for supplements, etc. to "jump start".
ANSWER: A lot of type O's report having rough times adjusting to the loss of wheat in the diet, especially in the first few weeks. I've found that the use of the amino acid glutamine can help offset these feelings until the O diet begins to help upregulate dopamine levels.
In the brain, glutamine is converted to glutamic acid, the only alternate source of glucose available to the brain. It provides a ready source of brain fuel for hypoglycemics and helps stave off sugar cravings and hypoglycemic symptoms that develop when blood-sugar levels drop too low.
In the brain, glutamine is a substrate for the production of both excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitters (glutamate and gamma-aminobutyric acid, popularly known as GABA). Glutamine is also an important source of energy for the nervous system. If the brain is not receiving enough glucose, it compensates by increasing glutamine metabolism for energy-hence the popular perception of glutamine as "brain food" and its use as a pick-me-up. Glutamine users often report more energy, less fatigue and better mood.
Glutamine is plentiful in both animal and plant protein. The typical American diet provides between 3.5 g and 7 g of glutamine; more is synthesized according to need. Even so, heavy stress, such as strenuous exercise, infectious disease, surgery, burn injury or other acute trauma leads to glutamine depletion with consequent immune dysfunction, intestinal problems and muscle wasting. Consequently, it has been proposed that glutamine should be classified as a "conditionally essential amino acid."
Typically, a useful dose is 500-750mg in powder or capsules between meals for a week or two. By the way, glutamine (unlike most amino acids) is rather pleasant tasting, with a slightly sweetish flavor.