You know bone broth is essential for gut health, joint health, and to promote longevity, but have you ever stopped to wonder why?
One reason bone broth is so beneficial is because of the amino acid content. There are 20 amino acids in total, each with specific health benefits. One of the most prominent amino acids found in bone broth is called glycine.
Below, you’ll learn what glycine is and its beneficial effects on your entire body.
What Is Glycine?
Glycine is an amino acid, the building blocks of protein. There are 20 amino acids found in the human body, nine of which are considered essential amino acids (you have to get them from food), while the other 11 are nonessential (your body can produce them on its own). It falls under the latter category.
It’s estimated that the average person consumes 3–5 grams of the amino acid on a daily basis, both from supplements and food sources (1). Most animal products, including pork, beef, chicken, lamb, and fish have high amounts of glycine, as well as some plant-based foods like beans, spinach, kale, and cabbage (2).
You’re probably reading this thinking, “If my body produces the amino acid on its own, plus I consume it through foods, why would I ever supplement with it?” Individuals increase their glycine intake for a wide variety of reasons because (as you’re about to find out) it benefits virtually the entire human body. Depending on what health issues you’re looking to solve, you might consider supplementation to help with sleep quality, treat metabolic disorders, improve joint pain, reduce oxidative stress, or prevent fatigue (3).
Please note, you should always seek medical advice before taking supplements, particularly when pregnant or breastfeeding.
5 Incredible Health Benefits of Glycine
Glycine benefits you in a number of ways, helping to regulate your metabolism, aid in muscle growth, and support cardiovascular functions.
1. It Could Slow the Aging Process
Looking for the next anti-aging secret? Oxidative stress is a condition where the free radicals in your body outnumber the antioxidants. This contributes to the aging process by damaging your cells, fatty tissue, and DNA.
It isn’t an antioxidant itself — it’s one one of three amino acids used to make glutathione, a key antioxidant in the body. Glutathione is derived from glutamic acid, cysteine, and glycine. Without glycine, glutathione synthesis cannot happen, thereby contributing to oxidative stress (4)(5).
2. It Can Improve Sleep and Prevent Fatigue
Need to catch some ZZZ’s? Glycine plays a role in quality sleep. For people who deal with chronic insomnia (which impacts almost a third of the American population), supplementing with the amino acid helped them get a good night’s sleep (6).
But glycine doesn’t just help you hit the hay during evening hours. New research shows glycine supplements can help prevent daytime sleepiness as well. If you’ve ever fallen victim to the 3:00 p.m. slump (haven’t we all?) glycine can help cut down on that drowsiness (6).
3. It Helps Maintain Lean Muscle Mass
As you age, you naturally lose muscle mass. Luckily, glycine appears to preserve and protect your muscles in a number of ways. No matter if your muscles are at risk of deteriorating due to a chronic illness, age, or a reduced calorie intake, glycine can help maintain your lean muscle mass (also contributing to weight loss) (7).
It doesn’t just help protect the muscles you already have — it can stimulate new muscle growth. In a number of studies, it helped stimulate muscle growth after people experienced muscle loss, either from inflammation or calorie restriction (8).
4. It Can Prevent Against Heart Disease
If you’re looking to keep your heart happy and healthy, glycine might be able to help out. Glycine has long been associated with a lower risk of obesity, hypertension, insulin resistance, and diabetes — all biomarkers of heart disease (9). Some studies even point to an inverse relationship between glycine levels and high cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels (10).
A new study might be able to draw a straight line from positive glycine levels to a reduced risk of heart disease and heart attacks. Over 4,000 people who complained of chest pains were monitored over the course of seven years. At the end of the study, those who had higher levels of the amino acid had a lower risk of heart disease (10).
5. It Might Help You Focus
Do you often feel scatterbrained throughout the day, forgetting even the simplest tasks? Glycine has been shown to enhance your mental clarity, support brain cells, and improve your memory (11).
Researchers believe this amino acid is more beneficial for your long-term memory than everyday cognitive focus. That being said, scientists believe it might help people in everyday situations, such as recovering from jet lag, working overnight shifts, or mornings following restless nights (11).
The Relationship Between Collagen and Glycine
It’s hard to say what glycine is best known for — its ability to prevent chronic illnesses, the fact that it keeps us focused and alert, or that it helps preserve our muscles. While these health benefits are nothing to scoff at, they’re not really what put the amino acid on people’s radar.
The amino acid is best known for its relationship to collagen. Collagen, the most abundant protein found in the human body, with known benefits ranging from strengthened ligaments, bones, and other connective tissue to glowing hair, skin, and nail, is packed full of amino acids — 18 to be exact. Of these, 50 percent of collagen is made up of just three, glycine being one of them (12).
So while glycine can thank collagen for making it one the more well-known amino acids, the amino acid gets to take the credit for a number of collagen’s well-known health benefits.
How to Get More Glycine in Your Diet
Once again, your body produces glycine all on its own. You can boost your glycine levels by eating protein-rich foods including most meats, leafy greens, and legumes. You can also consume glycine in supplement form, through collagen peptides or tablets.
Since collagen is packed full of glycine, one of the best sources of the amino acid is bone broth. Kettle & Fire bone broth and Kettle & Fire soups are made with real bone broth, containing collagen. This will certainly boost your amino acid levels.
Glycine: One of the Main Amino Acids Found in Bone Broth
Glycine is a nonessential amino acid, meaning your body can produce it or you can consume it through food. It is credited for a wide variety of health benefits, including decreasing the risk of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes, promoting muscle growth, and enhancing cognitive function.
Collagen contains high quantities of glycine, which you can consume through collagen peptides or through gut-healthy bone broth. For a tasty way to get more bone broth in your diet, check out Kettle & Fire’s new line of soups and stews.