Glycine is an amino acid which creates proteins. These proteins aid the growth and maintenance of tissues within your body. Glycine also makes important substances like hormones and enzymes. While your body naturally produces this amino acid, it’s also found in protein-rich foods and dietary supplements. Here are nine more important health benefits of glycine.
Produces a Powerful Antioxidant
Your body naturally produces a powerful antioxidant called glutathione using glycine and two other amino acids. This antioxidant helps fight free radicals and protects your body from foreign invaders which can cause harsh diseases. Your body needs an adequate amount of glycine to make enough glutathione to thoroughly protect your body and help prevent degradation from oxidative stress.
Helps Produce Creatine
Glutathione isn’t the only helpful bodily aid glycine helps create. It also helps make creatine, a compound which gives your muscles energy to perform quick bursts of activity, such as weightlifting and sprinting. Combined with resistance training, creatine increases muscle size, strength, and power. In addition, creatine helps bolster neurological muscles to enhance brain function, dulling the effects of diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
Works as an Essential Amino Acid
“Structural” proteins provide strength in nearly all parts of your body, such as your muscles, skin, cartilage, blood, bones, and ligaments. Collagen is the most abundant structural protein in your body and glycine is the most abundant amino acid in collagen; every third and fourth acid in collagen is glycine. On top of providing structure, collagen also increases skin health, relieves joint pain, and prevents bone loss.
Improves Sleep Quality
There are many ways to improve healthy sleeping habits, like putting down electronics before bed and not drinking caffeinated beverages throughout the day, but one of the most surprising is increasing the amount of glycine in your body. Glycine provides a calming effect for your brain and lowers your core body temperature, factors which could help you fall asleep quickly and more deeply. Taking just three grams of glycine before sleep decreases time to fall asleep, enhances sleep quality, and lessens daytime sleepiness.
Protects Your Liver
One of the most damaging substances on earth is alcohol, especially when consumed in excess. The liver can be damaged in a number of ways, including fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis which is liver inflammation, and alcoholic cirrhosis which is scar tissue in the liver which replaces normal cells. Recent evidence suggests glycine can reduce the harmful effects of alcohol by preventing inflammation. Not only that, glycine may actually reverse damage to the liver caused by excess alcohol.
Protects Your Heart
An increasing number of studies show that glycine protects you from heart disease. Atherosclerosis, the hardening and narrowing of the arteries, occurs when a certain compound builds up in your body. Glycine has been shown to prevent this compound from piling up in your body to the point of causing damage. Glycine also encourages the release of nitric oxide, a molecule which increases blood flow and lowers blood pressure, on top of lowering risk of heart disease in rats with a high sugar diet.
Aids Those with Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 Diabetes is most prevalent in those with morbid obesity and those who overconsume sugary products. The disease decreases the amount of glycine in the body, which can be harmful because glycine increases the insulin response to excess sugar. Treatments with supplemental glycine have shown an improved insulin response in those with type 2 diabetes and higher levels of glycine are associated with reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. If you have type 2 diabetes, consider taking glycine supplements to increase your body’s insulin response mechanism.
Protects Against Muscle Loss
Glycine is important in muscle growth and maintenance, but it’s also crucial to prevent muscle loss. Muscle wasting occurs in those without a proper intake of nutrients, but glycine has been shown to reduce this process. It strongly inhibits muscle breakdown and is even primarily responsible for muscle growth even after other factors are considered. Even in mice with cancer, glycine stimulated muscle growth even when leucine, another growth stimulation chemical, did not.
Simple to Add to Your Diet
Glycine is found in many different types of meat, such as brisket, chuck, and round. Gelatin also contains a high amount of glycine, but if you don’t like meat of gelatin, you can always add glycine to your diet in the form of a supplement. Glycine can be added to many drinks like coffee tea, or foods such as oatmeal, yogurt, and pudding. There’s no wrong way to increase your intake of glycine, as the supplement will offer the same beneficial properties as the glycine produced naturally by your body.
Glycine is a naturally occurring and largely beneficial amino acid. Increasing your glycine intake will make you less likely to contract heart disease while helping your muscles grow and your brain rest while you sleep. While glycine should not be taken in excess, there are many foods and diet options to increase your intake of glycine to help you feel healthier and more properly nourished.