Glycine is an amino acid that provides important benefits to your bones, muscles, and overall health. Your body can produce it using another endogenous amino acid called serine. However, there are more ways to get this critical compound.
Today you'll learn about glycine, its many valuable functions, and how to make sure you have enough of it. Fortunately, this important compound is available in foods that are part of a pH-balanced diet. And we’ll look at a study that found plant-based foods are the best source of glycine.
All About Glycine
Like other amino acids, glycine is a building block of protein, as well as other compounds your body needs to stay healthy and strong.
Glycine helps to break down and transport nutrients and fat to cells throughout the body. That makes it essential to most of your bodily systems, including the immune, digestive, and nervous systems.
It is a major component of healthy skin, connective tissues, and muscle. Glycine is essential for the formation of collagen. Glycine is so important that your body produces it internally. However, boosting your glycine levels through food sources can provide numerous health benefits.
The amino acid glycine supports many bodily systems, including the immune, digestive, and nervous systems. It is produced internally but can be supplemented from food sources.
Health Benefits Of Glycine
- Glycine is used to form collagen. Collagen is a structural protein that comprises the extracellular matrix of many connective tissues in the human body. High glycine concentrations have been shown to increase collagen production, and a deficiency can cause osteoarthritis.1
- Glycine helps to build muscle. Studies have shown that glycine inhibits the deterioration of muscle and boosts muscle recovery.2 That makes it particularly important for the maintenance of overall health, mobility, and stability.
- Glycine improves digestion. One of the many tissues that glycine helps construct is the lining of the digestive tract. In addition to collagen, glycine helps to create gelatin. Gelatin is one of the compounds that make up the lining of the gastrointestinal system. Together, these compounds help people with sensitivities to better tolerate certain foods.3
- Glycine helps you sleep well. Studies have shown that glycine improves sleep quality by having a calming effect on the brain.4 Glycine can help you fall asleep faster, sleep more soundly, and feel more rested and sharp during the day.5
- Glycine supports the immune system. The amino acid comprises one- third of the “master antioxidant” glutathione. The latter prevents oxidative stress, helping to protect your immune system. A study found that glutathione production is markedly lower in elderly people. However, they also found that dietary supplementation with glycine restored glutathione levels.6
Glycine has a variety of health benefits. This amino acid is prevalent throughout the body. Without it, we couldn't form compounds that comprise essential physical structures and systems. As a result, maintaining strong levels of glycine confers the following benefits:
The benefits of increasing your glycine levels include increased collagen production, enhanced muscle retention and growth, improved digestion, better sleep, and a stronger immune system.
How Glycine Supports Bone Health
Collagen is a primary building block of bone. In fact, collagen makes up almost one-third of our skin, bone, and connective tissue. The bone matrix is composed of 60% inorganic components and 40% organic parts. Collagen makes up about 90% of those organic components.
Collagen gives bone flexibility and resiliency. It provides the adaptability that helps bones to grow and change while staying strong. Without enough glycine, your body can't produce the collagen your bones need.
Glycine is similarly essential for muscle. The protein in your muscles is composed of amino acids, and glycine is among them. As noted in the previous section, glycine is particularly important for preventing muscle deterioration.
Muscle mass is critical for bone health, because strong muscles allow you to grow new bone, per Wolff’s Law. That's because the stress that muscles place on bone during weight-bearing exercise stimulates the growth of new bone mass.
Here are a few other ways that glycine's benefits bolster bone health:
- Improved digestion increases the absorption of bone-healthy nutrients
- Improved sleep facilitates bone remodeling that takes place while you rest.
- Increased glutathione prevents oxidative damage that harms bone.
Glycine improves bone health by increasing the production of collagen, a major building block of bone. It also protects muscle mass, which stimulates bone growth. Additionally, health benefits like improved digestion and sleep support and protect your bones.
Choose Vegetarian Food Sources Of Glycine
A study published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research found that women who consumed glycine-rich foods had higher bone mineral density than those whose diets lacked the amino acid. Furthermore, this finding was true specifically of women who got those amino acids from vegetable, rather than animal sources.7
This is powerful and direct evidence that further confirms the importance of a diet rich in glycine. It also confirms the benefits of the Osteoporosis Reversal Program's pH-balanced diet.
The following plant foods are excellent sources of glycine:
- Legumes (peanuts*, lentils*, kidney beans*, etc.)
- Dried seaweed
* Foundation Food
Studies found that women who consumed plant foods rich in glycine had higher bone mineral density than those who did not. See the list above for plant food sources of glycine.
What This Means To You
Your diet can add a critical boost to your body's internal production of glycine. That extra support can make a big difference, as the study above has proven.
Try to incorporate glycine-rich foods into your meals. Those ingredients are found throughout the delicious recipes in the Save Institute's cookbook and meal planner Bone Appétit. Check out Bone Appétit for easy and satisfying ways to follow a pH-balanced diet to support healthy bones.
Eat Your Way to Stronger Bones!
Discover over 200 mouth-watering bone healthy recipes for breakfast, smoothies, appetizers, soups, salads, vegetarian dishes, fish, and plenty of main courses and even desserts!
As your knowledge grows, so does your ability to make the best possible choices for your bones, your body, and your future. Keep learning, and keep charting a course for a long and healthy life.