Glycine is the most abundant amino acid in collagen protein, composing roughly 20% of its structure. It is a major contributor to the various health benefits of collagen, and thus it is important to understand how and why it helps us.
What makes glycine unique?
Glycine is a “neural inhibitor”, neural inhibition is vital for proper brain and nervous system function. The process of excitation and inhibition is responsible for communications between nerve cells. Today, there is a term labeled: excitotoxins, which are chemicals that cause brain cells to be overexcited and fire uncontrollably, leading to cell death. Two major excitotoxins today are MSG and aspartame. Think of excitation and inhibition like the gas pedal (excitation) and brake pedal (inhibition) on a car. Both are critical for the functioning of the automobile, however, the lack of braking ability and uncontrolled acceleration will surely result in a bad situation.
So, what does this have to do with glycine?
As referenced before, excitotoxins over stimulate brain cells that lead to cell death.
Glycine, being an inhibitor, has the opposite effect. It protects brain and nervous system cells. We have glycine receptors in our brain, which means that when collagen (which has a large percentage of glycine) is ingested, it has a direct, positive effect on our neurological systems.
When your brain cells are over-excited, so will your thinking and brain patterns. Glycine calms brain-wave activity and as a result, will give you a more peaceful, calm demeanor.
Glycine is shown to subjectively and objectively improve sleep quality in medical studies. Not only does it make for a more restful night’s sleep, but it also reduces daytime drowsiness and fatigue caused by a lack of sleep the night before.
The clinically studied benefits of glycine are amazing to say the least:
– Protects against shock caused by blood loss or endotoxin
– Diminishes liver injury caused by hepatoxic drugs
– Prevents free radical formation
– Reduces cancer caused by chemicals
– Reduces fibrosis caused by experimental drugs
The unique metabolic effects of glycine make it a clear contributor to the benefits of collagen. Be aware that taking isolated amino acids (pure glycine) can be detrimental and is not natural to our bodies. Collagen contains glycine, as well as other supporting amino acids that give it a balanced ratio.