glycine
Glycine is a "conditionally essential" amino acid, one of the twenty amino acids that are the building blocks of proteins. Glycine is produced by the body and -- if you're healthy enough -- can be found abundantly in tendons, ligaments, connective tissues and skin, keeping them all firm and flexible. In the diet animals foods are the greatest source of this potent anti-inflammatory that has numerous benefits for human health including: the regulation of sleep and circadian rhythms, normalizing blood sugar, aiding in digestion, detoxification, wound healing and much, much more.

Join us for this episode of The Health and Wellness Show as we discuss this super amino acid, the best ways to obtain it and some strong precautions that need to be considered when sourcing it.

And stay tuned for Zoya's Pet Health Segment at the end of the show where the topic will be pet dogs in ancient Rome.

Running Time: 01:13:11

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Here's the transcript of the show:

Erica: Hello and welcome to the Health & Wellness Show. Today is Friday, November 9, 2018. Joining me in our virtual studio we have Doug, Elliot and Tiffany. I am your host today, Erica.

Tiffany: Hello.

Doug: Hello.

Elliot: Hello.

Erica: So today our topic is Why is Glycine so Enticing.

Doug: We were kind of reaching on the rhyme there I think.

Tiffany: Yeah.

Erica: So glycine is a conditionally essential amino acid. We'll get into what that means. It's one of the 20 amino acids that are the building blocks of protein. Glycine is produced by the body and if you're healthy enough, can be found abundantly in tendons, ligaments, connective tissue and skin, keeping them all firm and flexible. In the diet animal foods are the greatest source of this potent amino acid and it helps with inflammation, has numerous health benefits including regulation of circadian rhythms, normalizing blood sugar, aiding in digestion, detoxification, sleep, healing and much more. So today we're going to discuss glycine and share our ideas.

And just as a side note, we did a show a few weeks ago about supplements and we are now again talking about supplementing but we're going to talk about the importance of getting glycine from foods.

Tiffany: Yeah.

Erica: So where do we start?

Doug: What is glycine?

Tiffany: Oh yeah, why don't we start with what it is and why it's not technically essential but some people are saying that it should be semi-essential or conditionally essential? Because the body can make it. The liver can make glycine but depending on your level of health, your age or other factors, you might not make enough glycine to meet all of your needs so that's why people say that it should be conditionally essential.

Doug: Yeah.

Elliot: It's an amino acid so for those who don't know what an amino acid is, proteins, say animal or plant protein, any protein in nature is made up of building blocks and those building blocks are amino acids. So in a particular protein you have lots of different amino acids. People might have heard of amino acids before such as methionine or cysteine or taurine or arginine. And glycine is just one of those.

But different kinds of foods contain a different spectrum of amino acids. The variety of amino acids is what determines one protein from another protein. So if you look at muscle meat, muscle meat is higher in certain amino acids such as methionine and cysteine and tryptophan whereas if you look at certain plant proteins or if you look at the skin or the collagen, that has a higher ratio of glycine and less methionine and cysteine.

So when you digest a protein what you do in your intestine is, in your stomach, you're breaking down the protein into its constituent amino acids and then the amino acids are absorbed by the digestive tract. You deal with the amino acids in different ways. You might take the amino acids to synthesize new proteins or you might take the amino acids to aid in detoxification or for some other purpose. So that's basically what an amino acid is and that's what glycine is.

But glycine is a really interesting one because the amount of glycine that you have is dependent on your ability to synthesize it and likewise it's dependent on the amount of other amino acids that you have because if you have too many of certain amino acids then this can increase your requirement for glycine. And likewise if your body's under stress or in various other situations you may not be able to synthesize glycine. They say that it's a non-essential amino acid meaning that you don't need to get it from your diet because you can synthesize it. But really, if you look at how you synthesize it, that is dependent on lots of factors. So a good argument could be made that it is an essential amino acid, especially in our modern day.

Doug: I don't mean to put you on the spot here Elliot, but when the body makes glycine, is it making it from other amino acids? It's converting them into glycine?

Elliot: That's right yeah.

Doug: Okay. I thought so. So regardless of whether or not you're actually getting glycine, you would need to be getting at least protein in some way so your body is able to make glycine with the constituent parts that it needs.

Elliot: Yes. To synthesize any amino acid you need nitrogen and nitrogen is mostly coming in from your protein. So to synthesize glycine - let me try to think - I don't remember exactly which amino acids you need to synthesize glycine. I'll find out though.

Erica: So if you were a vegetarian...

Tiffany: Or a vegan.

Erica: Or a vegan, would you be able to get glycine?

Doug: You can. It is in plant foods but not as abundantly as you find it in animal foods. Probably the best source of glycine would be something along the lines of bone broth where you're actually boiling bones and tendons and those sorts of things and releasing all the good collagen because collagen I think is 35% glycine?

Tiffany: Yeah, I think that's the number.

Doug: So that's the richest source you'll find in the diet, which is one of the major reasons that bone broth is so incredibly good for you.

Tiffany: And if you ever look at long-term vegans you'll notice that a lot of them have really premature aging signs like the crows feet and the saggy skin and they're just in their 40s or something. It's kind of awful.

Doug: They've got a glycine deficiency.

Tiffany: Yeah, among other things.

Elliot: So the way that you synthesize glycine is from the amino acid serine and that's found in lots of different things. But to synthesize glycine you need activated methylfolate which is vitamin B9. When we're talking about genetics, most people have probably heard about the MTHFR gene which is involved in the cycle of methylation which essentially converts folic acid or folate, which is found in food, into the activated methylfolate. So there's lots of things that can slow down that process or that can affect someone's ability to do that.

Theoretically glycine can be made but again, as I said, there are so many factors that come into that, that can potentially influence someone's ability to make glycine, so it's much safer to get it in from the diet.

Doug: So if somebody had the MTHFR mutation where they're not a good methylator they would probably not be able to make very much glycine.

Elliot: Theoretically that's a possibility.

Erica: Does your ability to synthesize it decrease as you get older, like Tiffany was talking about, when you see people aging, especially skin and wrinkles? Does your body slow down the production as you get older?

Elliot: I honestly don't know the answer to that question. I'd assume all things become taxed and they do say that the efficiency of the methylation process does tend to decrease with age along with everything else, so you have increased oxidation and generally increased DNA damage and that sort of stuff throughout your life. So I'd imagine that most functions tend to slow down or become less efficient.

Doug: I wonder about that though because they say that all the time, "this gets worse with age", "this gets worse with age", but the people that they're looking at are people who have been eating crap their entire lives. So yeah, there's some wear and tear on the body. Naturally there's going to be some wear and tear on the body so I think there is some level of things getting worse with age, but I honestly wonder. They say "Oh yeah, stomach acid production gets worse as you age". But does it, or does it get worse the longer you're on a crappy diet?

Erica: Yeah.

Tiffany: That's kind of along the lines of what I was thinking. There are a lot of things that are considered normal but they're not normal, they're just common. So it's common for people to just break down as they age, but really it just depends on diet. So I think that maybe with age and maybe with a prolonged crap diet or a standard American diet where you're eating lots of carbs and you're probably not eating as much protein as you should or if you are eating protein, you're not eating broths and collagens and organs and you're just eating too much muscle meats when you do eat the protein, I think that can factor into it also.

Erica: Especially since things like skin are falling out of favour. It's really hard to find, especially chicken with the skin on now.

Tiffany: And people think pork rinds are a dirty word.

Doug: Yeah.

Tiffany: But the thing about pork rinds, you've got to be careful because they're probably fried in canola oil or something stupid.

Doug: Yeah, you've got to watch out for it. Why not fry it in lard? The fat is right there! Just use that stuff! Don't go and grab a terrible vegetable oil and use that. Just reading an article off of Dr. Axe, on the subject, he says that "Glycine can be used to help lower the symptoms of people suffering from conditions like ulcers, arthritis, leaky gut syndrome, diabetes, kidney and heart failure, neuro-behavioural disorders, chronic fatigue, sleep disorders and even certain cancers". So it clearly is something that has multiple uses in the body and when taken supplementally, can help in a lot of different things.

Erica: I also found it interesting in that article how he said it can improve flexibility and range of motion. So I'm wondering if people have surgeries like shoulder surgery or knee surgery or even back surgery, things like that, if supplementing with glycine ideally from a food source, would help the recovery process quicker.

Doug: I bet it would. I know it's very good for wound healing so I can see how that would also apply to recovering from other things like surgeries or even workouts. It's supposed to be very helpful for recovery in that sense. It makes sense. If it's a structural component of so much of our body, it just makes sense that having a lot of it on hand for your body to use would be helpful for healing.

Tiffany: I think it kind of harkens back to ancient practices, like if a certain body part of yours was in distress you'd eat the corresponding body part from the animal. So if your tendons and ligaments are all jacked up, why not eat a cow's tendons and ligaments, even if you can't eat them whole? You can get some bones, not just scraped bones but bones that have some bits of tendon and ligament and flesh on there and boil them.

Doug: And joints.

Tiffany: Yeah.

Doug: Definitely. And if you're going crazy you can eat a brain. {laughter}

Tiffany: Yes.

Erica: Another one of the benefits is that it calms the nervous system and feeds the brain, so speaking of brains. I'm wondering. Elliot, maybe you can share what it does in the brain? I know in some of our readings we read about how they've used it to help people with schizophrenia or even OCD tendencies.

Elliot: Sorry, before we get onto that, I was just about to add something about collagen synthesis but I realized that my mic was muted. DUH! {laughter} Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body. It's your entire cytoskeleton. Every bone is connected together by collagen and all of the extracellular matrix and everything that connects each cell to one another is essentially collagen. So it's like this vast web. They call it the fascia which is in large part collagen and collagen is this amazing protein which is elastic but it's really firm and supple. A third of collagen is made up of glycine. So by taking glycine, by consuming glycine, you can actually stimulate collagen synthesis and it depends what kind of glycine you're taking. By taking glycine in the form of a hydrolized collagen protein supplement such as a collagen or gelatine supplement, particularly hydrolized collagen, which is collagen peptides, the step up of amino acids, it has been shown that when you take those you actually absorb collagen peptides and they get used directly for collagen synthesis.

There was one study that showed that consuming 10 grams of glycine per day increased the serum concentration levels of glycine which are associated with a 200% increase in the rate of collagen synthesis. So you can improve collagen synthesis by taking glycine. That's certainly something for anyone who has any kind of muscular disorder like tendonitis or they've got a strain or a sprain or something like that. Taking collagen or supplementing with glycine can definitely be beneficial for that.

But on the topic of the brain, glycine is an amino acid but it also acts as an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the nervous system and what inhibitory means is that it shuts things down. When your neurons are firing really rapidly sometimes they can fire too rapidly and this is called excitotoxicity and when they fire too rapidly this means that you can get all sorts of horrible side effects like neuro-inflammation and oxidative stress which actually damage the neurons and stop the cells from working properly.

So what glycine can do is it can basically turn off the neurons. This is one of the reasons I think as to why it's very useful for sleep. It's interesting because it can be used for people with neuro-psychiatric disorders. I think there was one study for schizophrenia where they showed to combat psychosis they found that supplementing 60 grams - so that's six-zero...

Tiffany: That's a lot!

Elliot: Yes, 6-0 grams, more than half of 100 grams, yet was actually effective in treating psychosis in these people. I can't remember how long they did that for but from what I understand there weren't any side effects. So glycine, as just a standard amino acid powder has been supplemented in various studies at very high doses, like some of then 10 grams, 20 grams, but again, it can be used in very high doses and actually have a very beneficial effect.

On the topic of sleep, calming things down and inhibiting neurons and stuff like that, what's very interesting is that glycine can be used to promote sleep and typically you would take 3-5 grams around an hour before bed. This is one-to-two tablespoons, depending on how much your having and how large your tablespoons are.

Doug: Is it that much? I thought that a teaspoon was about 4 grams or 5 grams maybe.

Elliot: I think that glycine is quite light.

Doug: Oh.

Elliot: The powder is actually quite light so from what I understand, the last time I weighed it, five grams was about a level tablespoon and a half, or something like that. You'd have to check but I'm fairly sure that glycine's quite light in that sense so there's a bulk for how much it weighs. Glycine can be used and it has been successfully used in multiple different sleep studies and it has consistently shown to be beneficial for people who have problems with sleep. There are two areas of sleep that it can really benefit. One is falling asleep so it reduces sleep latency. What this means is that if you get into bed and you find it difficult to fall asleep, say you're lying in bed for an hour or something ruminating, glycine has been shown to reduce that significantly. So someone may take an hour to fall asleep, they may only take 20 minutes to fall asleep or something like that.

Likewise glycine can also improve the sleep quality. It reduces the time to reach what is called slow wave sleep which is nrem sleep. The people who took glycine actually reported better feelings when they woke up. They didn't feel as tired and they had improved cognitive capacity throughout the day. It's very interesting because what it actually does, aside from inhibiting things in the nervous system, it can actually help lower the body temperature and it's this drastic drop in body temperature which is one of the triggers for sleep. If there's anyone with any sleep issues, this is definitely something worth trying.

Tiffany: A lot of people complain about being hot in the middle of the night and having to throw the covers off so I suspect that glycine would be good for that. But I was watching a YouTube video about some guy who had insomnia and he was saying that glycine worked for him at first but then after a while it just made his insomnia worse. The comments were mixed. It seemed like half the people glycine worked wonders for their sleep and the other half people were saying "It just made my sleep worse after a while". So I'm wondering if part of that could be since glycine does have an effect on lowering blood sugar could it lower your blood sugar too much at night and you wake up and feel the need to eat. You wake up because you're hungry or because your blood sugar dropped too low.

Elliot: That's a really good question. I don't know but it seems that when you read the comments and subjective anecdotes of people, it works for some people and then for other people it doesn't seem to work.

Tiffany: Like most things.

Elliot: Yeah. It works for me really well. I don't actually use it because I don't need any help falling asleep but when I was having troubles, glycine definitely made me feel kind of drowsy. It's interesting, the effects that it has on blood sugar regulation. They found that taking I think it's 3-5 grams 20-30 minutes before a meal can prevent the postprandial glucose or hyperglycemia. So if you were to eat a starchy meal then you would probably get quite a high spike in blood sugar whereas glycine can reduce that. I don't know what levels it can reduce it to. There's one study showing that 25 grams of glycine reduced peak glucose by 11% and the total glucose response over two hours by 66% compared to glucose alone.

So apparently what is does is enhance the insulin response. I don't know if that's necessarily something that would be beneficial for everyone but if there's a problem with producing insulin then it seems to benefit that.

Doug: So guys, I just looked it up. One teaspoon of glycine is 4.1 grams.

Elliot: Oh wow! I got that wrong then!

Doug: So you were saying to take 5 or 6 grams an hour before bed?

Elliot: Yeah.

Doug: So that would be a teaspoon-and-a-half probably.

Elliot: Right.

Doug: And since we were talking about sleep, we do have a clip of Chris Masterjohn talking about getting better sleep with glycine. Do we want to play that?

Tiffany: Yeah.

Chris: If you have trouble sleeping or if you seem to sleep fine but you don't feel rested and energetic during the day then this video is for you. It could be that the solution to your problems is as simple as glycine.

Hi, I'm Dr. Chris Masterjohn at chrismasterjohnphd.com and you're watching Chris Masterjohn Lite where the name of the game is details schmetails. Just tell me what works. And one thing that can work for better sleep is three grams of glycine before bed.

Now there's a few ways to do this but first let's talk about why it works. Studies have shown that not only does glycine have a calming effect in the brain to help you wind down and prepare for sleep, but also it helps lower your core body temperature at night which is one of the things that makes your sleep more effective. When you fall asleep you get into slow wave sleep quicker and you stay stable in that state and so what happens is not only might you get more sleep but your sleep might be more restful so that even though glycine itself has a calming effect, you may feel more energized during the day.

The studies that have been done have used three grams of glycine. There are a couple of ways to get that. One is to just buy a glycine supplement. I don't care which one you use really, but take the glycine supplement in your mouth that provides three grams of glycine right before bed. Another way to do that and one that I frequently advocate as a way of getting glycine is to take collagen. Hydrolized collagen such as Great Lakes or Vital Proteins, one serving generally provides a little over three grams of glycine. Just make sure you look at the nutrition facts to make sure that that's what you're getting.

Now should you do one or the other? Well you really have to try it. I have some clients who report that they get gastrointestinal distress when they take free glycine but not when they take hydrolized collagen. I have another client who takes free glycine because he gets GI distress from taking hydrolized collagen and not free glycine. I have another client who doesn't get GI distress from either of these supplements but collagen doesn't help her sleep and it looks like free glycine does. Why might that be the case?

Well one of the reasons that glycine promotes a calming effect in the brain is that it antagonizes the excitatory effects of another amino acid, glutamate. If you're taking hydrolized collagen you're getting some glutamate in it and so the glycine might not be as effective for you if messing with that ratio is really what you need. Additionally, it might be the case that just taking the glycine on its own helps the glycine to get better into the brain when there aren't as many competing amino acids. So that might be one reason that you need to try free glycine and if collagen doesn't work for you, don't rule out that free glycine might be the answer.

On the other hand my best friend says that she eats about 20 grams of glycine and in order to get that amount of glycine she needs to rely on collagen and if she takes it as free glycine she feels super out of it, out of breath and like she's dying.

The point is everyone's a little bit different. Start slow with 3 grams. Don't use higher until you know you need it. We'll talk about how to know that in two videos from now. Start slowly with three grams. Make sure that you try free glycine and you try collagen. Pick the one that works the best with the least GI distress if that's an issue, and the best results, that makes you feel the best, sleep the best and feel the most rested and energized when you wake up.

Alright, I hope you found this useful. This is Chris Masterjohn of chrismasterjohnphd.com. You've been watching Chris Masterjohn Lite and I will see you in the next video.

Tiffany: Yeah, thanks Chris. {laughter}

Doug: Thanks Chris. Next video. So three grams of glycine. That's actually not very much. That's like ¾ of a teaspoon.

Elliot: Definitely not two tablespoons. {laughter}

Tiffany: Some people like to dial it up to 10. {laughter} I'm not going to name any names here. But still it's important to note how he said that everybody's different and everybody reacts differently to different types of glycine whether it comes as free glycine or in collagen.

Doug: Yeah, that might actually explain why in some of the people in the YouTube comments you were reading. Some people were like "Nah, doesn't work" and other people were like "Yeah, it works amazing!"

Tiffany: So as with everything, experiment!

Doug: Self-experimentation is fun.

Tiffany: Yes. Do we want to talk about bone broth and how you have to be careful if that's your go-to source to try to boost your collagen and glycine levels? You have to be careful with your bones and where you get them from.

Doug: Yeah. Particularly because of the glyphosate issue which is that glyphosate is a fake glycine molecule. It's a scientifically created glycine molecule more or less and it's used as an herbicide and it is currently sprayed just about everywhere. It has completely saturated our environment and because it is so close in structure to glycine, it will actually replace glycine in structures all over nature. So if the animals you're eating are eating feed that is covered in glyphosate then the bones will have incorporated that glyphosate into their structure where it should be using glycine.

So if you're not getting good bones from organic, pasture raised animals - and unfortunately even then it's not 100% - you might actually be getting a good dose of glyphosate in your bone broth.

Tiffany: That's so sad because you think you're doing yourself such a great favour by drinking this hearty, rich bone broth and you're going to boost your health and then glyphosate, as usual, with everything, it's like the bane of humanity, glyphosate is. So glyphosate rears its ugly head and ruins your meal once again.

Elliot: It's really quite depressing because collagen is going to be the highest dietary source I think, other than if someone's consuming tons of grains. Unfortunately the gelatine in the jelly sweets like Haribo and then also the collagen-rich tissues of the animals that consume the grains. It's very possible that it's going to be in that. I think Dr. Stephanie Seneff was saying on the interview that we did that she or one of her colleagues had done an experiment and they had measured various animal proteins. Because it's not even just in the collagen-rich tissues. It permeates the muscle tissue as well. So it's what binds muscle fibers together. So there's collagen everywhere. I think she was saying one of her colleagues measured the muscle tissue and they actually found glyphosate inside the muscle. It was like, "how on earth did it get there?" Her theory was that actually it's replacing glycine in protein synthesis, which would kind of make sense but that's kind of scary because glyphosate can't do what glycine can do.

So if you're making loads of proteins that are meant to have glycine in them but you replace that with glyphosate then that protein is going to be dysfunctional and that might be able to explain why tendons rupture and this kind of stuff or how enzymes stop working. She was talking about the pancreas, the beta cells I think, and she was talking about enzymatic production, the production of protein degrading enzymes, proteases and she was talking about how theoretically if glyphosate was replacing glycine in this enzyme then the people would be unable to produce enzymes which break down protein and she thinks that this might be one of the reasons why children with autism typically have such a problem digesting food. Maybe it's because they're not producing the protein breaking down enzymes because glyphosate has got its way into the pancreas.

Doug: She published a paper as well that was talking about ALS showing a model that would explain ALS in terms of glyphosate intoxication. It was mitochondrial damage through glycine substitution was the main thing as well as the fact that glyphosate will chelate minerals. So it's just sucking manganese, copper and zinc right out of the system.

Elliot: Yeah.

Tiffany: Well that's scary. What were some of the good sources that we mentioned before? Great Lakes collagen? If you could get grass-fed...

Doug: That's from Argentinian grass-fed beef.

Tiffany: So it's not from Lake Huron, Lake Superior and Lake Erie? {laughter} Not those great lakes?

Doug: Not that I know of. It's weird that it's called Great Lakes and that it's from Argentina.

Tiffany: That's kind of confusing.

Elliot: But those animals, from what I understand, are 100% grass-fed and reared on all organic soils and everything like that, so I think that's a fairly safe bet and it's fairly cheap as well. In the UK you can get 16 ounces for £20. But if you're just taking two tablespoons of that per day then it works out to be not so expensive. But just to divert quickly away from that topic, just to go into some of the other functions of glycine. As I was saying before the show, glycine is probably my favourite amino acid and that's because it just seems to versatile and so safe to supplement with and effective for so many things.

Aside from making up a large portion of collagen it also makes up a third of glutathione. Glutathione is the master antioxidant inside the cell. It's what you use to get rid of all the bad things so you conjugate them with glutathione and detox them via the liver. So glutathione status is really important and it's been shown that glycine can boost glutathione synthesis because glutathione is made up of three amino acids and one of those, a third of that, is glycine. Not only does it make up a third of glutathione but it also, in and of itself, is a part of detoxification.

So you have something called amino acid conjugation and this is where you take a specific amino acid and you bind it with a specific kind of toxin and then you carry it out either via the intestines or via the urine. What's interesting with glycine is you have glycination which is a type of amino acid conjugation. Not only is glycine it part of the glutathione detoxification system but it also, in and of itself, combine with the crap and take it out. So it's really important to get rid of salicylates which are plant compounds. You find them in various fruits and vegetables and berries and spices. Many people can have problems with salicylate sensitivities so this can present something similar to a histamine-type reaction. It can cause hives. It can cause flushing in the face. I think it can also cause allergies or appear as allergic reactions. It can cause digestive issues and all sorts of crazy kinds of stuff and many people have issues with salicylates and when they take them out of the diet they find it to be very beneficial. In order to detoxify salicylates you actually need to use glycine so glycine amino acid conjugation is how you get rid of that.

I guess it's theoretically possible that if you were to be low on glycine then that may predispose someone toward having a salicylate sensitivity so for those people examining their glycine status, maybe supplementing with collagen or making sure to eat more animal skin, animal bones and tendons and things like that, they might find that actually helps with their salicylates.

Another thing is that you need glycine to make hem and haemoglobin carries oxygen in the blood. So if you think of a situation where someone does not get much glycine in the diet or perhaps they're eating something else that is using up the glycine or reducing the amount that can be used or whatever, then this may also be a problem. They may have low oxygen-binding capacity in the blood. So it has so many effects.

Now I don't know if this applies to a carnivore based approach because it seems like all bets are off when we talk about the carnivore diet, I don't think anyone really knows, but on a normal diet typically, the more muscle meat that you consume, theoretically raises the requirement for glycine in the diet and this kind of makes perfect sense evolutionarily speaking because if you look at traditional cultures, it's been shown that the way that they cook their food and the foods that they eat, they typically practice something called nose-to-tail eating. This means that they eat the whole of the animal. They eat the bones. They eat the skin. They eat the grisly bits. They eat the organs, all of that sort of stuff. When you start looking at the amino acid composition of the different kinds of meat or the different kinds of components that make up the body of the animal, you see that there's vast differences in glycine content.

Muscle meat is not very high in glycine but it's very high in methionine and cysteine and yet if you look at the skin it's very high in glycine and quite low in methionine and cysteine. So if you were to eat the whole of the animal, these things would balance out perfectly. The question is, why do you need to consume more glycine with the more muscle meat that you eat? I think this is a very important question because if you look at today's society, we typically eat only the muscles and we get rid of all of the gristle. The most expensive steak that you can buy - in the UK anyway - is a filet steak and if you look at filet steak, there's practically zero fat on it and there's practically zero gristle. It's just pure muscle meat.

So we look at what we get from muscles. We take methionine in very high amounts and we take cysteine as well and what does the body do with these? Well we talk about the methylation cycle which is a biochemical set of reactions which has to do with turning methionine, taking the methyl group from methionine and converting it to homocysteine. Basically what you're doing is passing around methyl groups. These are very basic components and this is involved in DNA synthesis and neurotransmitter synthesis and detoxification and all of these other kinds of things. We don't need to go into the details of what methylation is. You just need to know it's very important. If you take in too much methionine you can have an excess of methyl donors and this can have quite a negative effect whereas what glycine does is actually buffers those.

So glycine can be used to counteract the negative effects of excess methionine, if that makes any sense, and you can see these in animal studies. There are very interesting studies and this is something that is used by vegetarians quite a lot and vegans and what they'll typically cite - I can't find the research paper - but there was one research paper which showed that feeding rats with a high methionine diet caused detrimental health effects and I think it killed them. But those effects could be offset by feeding the mice with glycine.

Glycine seems to have counteractive effects on excess methionine and cysteine. There's a very delicate balance between the different amino acids that we eat and by eating a vast array of amino acids they can fix themselves, if that makes sense. The body knows what to do with it whereas when you limit yourself to a certain set of amino acids this can cause problems.

I say this, but when we talk about a carnivore diet and people living on purely steak for 20 years and appearing fit and healthy afterwards, then we have to start asking questions because I don't know if this applies to them. But this seems to apply to people on a normal diet. So I think it generally speaks to the fact that human beings, if they're going to eat meat as part of a balanced diet, then they should probably also eat the rest of the animal as well.

Tiffany: That's a good point because when you're on a regular diet that consists of a high amount of carbohydrates and you compare that person to someone who just eats meat, pretty much all bets are off. Carbs have been known to slow the absorption of certain minerals and nutrients in the body so you can assume that that probably translates to amino acids as well. So you kind of have to start with a blank slate if you're talking about a carnivore versus a SAD diet eater.

Doug: Yeah, the physiology totally changes so it's really difficult. A lot of times you read stuff about people telling you why the carnivore diet isn't good and they're using studies on people who weren't eating a carnivore diet. They just said "Look, these people ate too much meat and this is what happened" and it's like, well that's not the same thing. You can't take somebody who's eating a normal-ish diet and try and apply the results to carnivore because everything is so different.

That being said, I think maybe as caveat to that, you can be careful - like Elliot was saying - by eating the whole animal or eating bone broth or something along those lines to try and make sure that if there is any problem with that you can offset it.

Tiffany: Yes, there are some carnivores who just swear by eating nothing but muscle meat and they stay away from things like broth or organs and things like that.

Doug: Yeah, it's true.

Elliot: Aside from the studies in humans - because I think there's around 350 altogether, but they're on similar things - but if you look at the animal studies, there's so many studies.

Tiffany: Those are rat studies.

Elliot: Yeah, loads of rat studies. There's a blogger, Vladimir Heiskanen, but his website is called valtsus.blogspot.com and couple of years ago he wrote a very, very long quite comprehensive article on the effects of glycine and he compiled lots of research and he included some of the research on animals. I'm just going to read out some of the things that it does when you feed it to rats and mice. In terms of cancer, it slows down the tumour growth in rats and mice. It protects from diabetes-induced harmful effects on kidneys, eyes, blood sugar, immune function and total mortality. You can reverse fatty liver with glycine. It protects the rats from liver injury caused by methionine and choline restriction, alcohol, chemo therapy, bile duct ligation, partial hepatectomy, haemorrhagic shock, sepsis and corn oil. So it protects against PUFA.

I don't know what the mechanism is for that but it protects rats from dental caries, from lead toxicity, from arthritis, tendon inflammation, pancreatitis, osteoporosis, platelet aggregation. There's so much of this. But one of the theories as to how it has such amazing effects is I think the similar effect that it has in the nervous system in that it's very inhibitory. If you look at various of these diseases which are related to inflammation, it can actually help to turn off the immune response.

Often all of the negative effects that you see in various diseases which are related to chronic inflammation, they're immune cell mediated so it's the immune cells which are actually causing the physiological and structural changes when they become activated and overactive. The glycine tends to actually switch off the immune cells, switch off the inflammatory components and by doing that it actually seems to protect the organs, especially the liver. I found that particularly interesting.

Now the question is, can glycine protect against the effects of glyphosate. I don't know. I've been thinking about this. I asked Stephanie Seneff about it and she said that she didn't know of any research on this but I would like to think it was theoretically possible because imagine if you have glyphosate in the intestines and you have glycine, say you take glycine with a meal that contains glyphosate, is there a possibility that you're going to absorb some of the glycine at least, instead of the glyphosate? That might make sense. And if the extra glycine that you're taking - say if you supplement glycine - is that going to increase collagen turnover? So if you incorporate glyphosate into collagen or into another protein is taking glycine going to potentially displace that glyphosate and add in the glycine to replace that? I don't know but I like to think that that was possible.

Tiffany: Why don't you try and experiment? Eat a high glyphosate meal {laughter} and then take some glycine along with it?

Doug: How would you know?

Tiffany: I don't know. Maybe measure your poop for glyphosate? {laughter}

Elliot: You can measure urinary glyphosate but there's question about whether that can provide an accurate representation. You think, if the glyphosate has actually been incorporated into your tissue, then there's a good chance that it's not going to come out in the urine.

Doug: Right.

Elliot: So it's kind of difficult to say I think. But, other than that, glycine is just a really cool amino acid.

Doug: I can see why it's your favourite.

Tiffany: You should name your firstborn daughter glycine. {laughter}

Doug: That's a good idea. I'm kind of being won over by Elliot here. I'm thinking that maybe it's my favourite amino acid now too. It used to be taurine but now glycine I think is winning.

Tiffany: Glycine sounds pretty good so far.

Elliot: There were a couple of other things that I wanted to talk about as well but I can't think of them at the moment. I had some notes but I can't find them. When we're talking about practicalities about glycine absorption, from what I understand glycine is best absorbed when it's taken with other proteins. This would be a good argument to take a collagen supplement rather than a glycine supplement, but like Chris Masterjohn has spoken about in the past, depending on the reason why you would want to take glycine, that might influence whether you were going to take the powder or the collagen supplement. There's individual variability as well but in general I think one of the recommendations is, especially if you're going to do a workout.

Say you're going to lift some weights, you're inevitably going to place strain on your tendons, on your collagen. You're going to break down some collagen because that is part of muscle breakdown and then muscle synthesis. That's why you lift weights, to break down muscle, in some cases anyway. So if you are going to have a workout, then there's good reason to believe that if you were to take a collagen supplement beforehand, maybe in a smoothie or have a hot chocolate or buttered coffee, add in some collagen into that, there's good reason to believe that that might actually help to increase recovery time and to protect your tendons and your muscles. So that might be something that is worth considering.

Now with glycine, if we talk about the toxicity or the safety of it, it seems as though for the majority of people, it is safe. There's a little bit of debate about whether you should be taking it if you have a problem with oxalates. So oxalates are crystals found in food. They occur in nature and they're found in plants and what they do is chelate minerals. If you look at them on a microscope, they're spiky balls. They're like spiky crystal things.

Erica: Wouldn't they be the defence mechanism of the plant?

Elliot: That's exactly what it is. I think that's exactly what it is and they're extremely high in certain plants like sweet potatoes, spinach, all kinds of nuts, especially almonds. They're high in chocolate and cocoa and they're quite high in Swiss chard and kale and a lot of the leafy greens and generally in potatoes as well. So they're like a defence mechanism. There are a subset of people who do seem to have a serious problem with metabolizing oxalate and this could be for lots of other reasons. For instance if the body could not effectively deal with the oxalate load, say if someone goes on one of these health fad diets and they eat a bunch of spinach and almond flour cookies and they juice their kale and spinach every day, chances are they're getting a lot of oxalate in their diet and this can cause a problem whereby they are more susceptible to the effects of oxalates.

If you look at the metabolic pathway of glycine, glycine can be converted into oxalate inside the body. So people who are overburdened with oxalate, when they get to a certain point that their body is under so much oxidative stress they can actually start producing oxalate themselves as well. This is one of the concerns about people taking glycine because glycine theoretically could contribute toward internal oxalate synthesis. So Chris Masterjohn has said he doesn't believe this to be much of a problem because the glyoxalate pathway, the pathway by which glycine can convert to oxalate is kind of like a minor pathway and glycine is more likely to be used in protein synthesis and in glutathione synthesis and everything before that's going to happen.

But also there is the work of Dr. Susan Owens and she has quite a large group of people - I think it's about 15,000 people on her group - who've spoken a lot about oxalate and they have essentially found that people who do have oxalate problems, when they consume glycine supplements and when they have bone broth and collagen supplements, it actually really exacerbates their symptoms. So while theoretically the glycine to oxalate pathway might be minor, it seems that it does occur in some people. There's not a lot of research on this but I think this is because there's not a lot of research into oxalates period because there's some misconceptions about how it's only important for kidney stones. But ultimately it seems like it's a much bigger problem and it might affect a lot more people than we know about.

So that is something to consider. If you're the type of person who has had a history of kidney stones there's a very good chance that there's a problem with oxalates and that by taking glycine it may potentially have a negative effect, but the jury's out on that one so I don't think anyone really knows.

Doug: Okay. {laughter after pause}

Erica: It's synthesizing in my brain, everything you just shared about that. The lag.

Elliot: Overall it seems to be safe for most people. And ideally you would want to get it from food, but if you can't get it from food or if you're diabetic or have problems with sleep or with blood sugar management, or you have fatty liver it might be worth a try. A safe dose is around three grams per day.

Erica: I know that they offer it in a powder form. In the past I've used it to sweeten tea or coffee.

Doug: Yeah, it's sweet. It tastes really good.

Erica: So you can get a good amount by using what? A teaspoon? Say you have a warm drink three times a day?

Doug: Three grams would be about ¾ of a teaspoon.

Erica: Three-quarters of a teaspoon.

Doug: Yeah, because a teaspoon is 4.1 grams. So should we go to our pet health segment.

Tiffany: Yeah sure. Why not? This is on dogs in ancient Rome.

Zoya: Hello and welcome to the pet health segment of the Health and Wellness Show. Today we have a blast from the ancient past and take a look at pet dogs in times of ancient Rome. Listen up to this fascinating information and have a great weekend. Bye-bye.

Welcome to how they did it, a show where we take a look at the daily lives of our ancestors. Now typically we focus on how humans have experienced the rollercoaster of history but today I figured we'd include a special guest who's been with us through thick and thin over the years - man's best friend.

For millennia dogs have watched as we've curiously changed tongue and appearance. But whatever the situation, they've always been by our sides ready for adventures, or not. Today we'll be taking a look at the lives of pet dogs in ancient Rome. When we peer back into antiquity we can find all kinds of dogs appearing in literature, mythology, in our work. Just as today, they came in many shapes, sizes and colours. Though these would have seemed familiar to us it's important to remember that there were indeed differences as many of the modern breeds we commonly interact with today only date back a few centuries.

Dog breeds in the past can be categorized by the various roles they filled. These included prominent types such as hunting dogs, guard dogs, house dogs and lap dogs. The list goes on to include a wide range of other roles such as herders, workers, entertainers and fighters. The Roman writer Radius provides some interesting details on what we might expect on this front: "Dogs belong to a thousand lands and they each have characteristics derived from their origin. The Median dog though undisciplined is a great fighter and great glory exalts the far distant Celtic dogs. Those of the Galloni on the other hand, shirk a combat and dislike fighting but they have wise instincts. The Persian is quick in both respects. Some rear mastiff dogs, a breed of unmanageable ferocity. But the Laconians on the other hand are easy tempered and big in limb.

The Hercanian dog however is not content with all of the energy belonging to his stock. The females of their own kind will seek unions with wild beasts in the woods. And what if you visit the straits of the Merini, tide-swept by a wayward sea and choose to penetrate even among the Britons? Oh how great your reward, how great your gain beyond any outlays.

If you are not bent on looks and deceptive graces at any rate when serious work has come, when bravery must be shown, when the impetuous war god calls and the utmost hazard, then you can not admire the renowned Molossians so much."

Apparently one of the most popular breeds was the Melitan. This was a small, fluffy lap dog with a fox-like pointed nose, upright triangular ears and a tail curled up over its back, similar to modern day miniature spitz-type dogs. Though cute and cuddly we hear several authors complain that such spoiled toy dogs could be badly behaved and quite yappy.

When it came to raising one of the available breeds, your average Roman would go through many of the same steps as we do today. One of the most important first steps would be to name a new puppy. For context, we can turn to the writings of the famous Greek historian Xenophon. He maintains that the best names were short, just one or two syllables so that the dog can easily be called. As suitable names he lists 46 which include such popular choices and Lurcher, Whitey, Blackie, Tawney, Blue, Blossom, Keeper, Fencer, Butcher, Spoiler, Hasty, Hurry, Stubborn, Yell, Tracker, Dash, Happy, Jolly, Trooper, Growler, Fury, Riot, Lance, Pell-mell, Plucky, Killer, Crafty, Swift and Dagger. Some others mentioned by the poet Ovid include Barker, Whirlwind, Storm, Bear, Greedy, Deer-slayer, Shaggy and Spot.

Once a dog was named it would be trained. Many basic commands were likely taught such as sit, stay, come and heel. Additional skills were then taught based on the dog's specific role. Hunting dogs for instance, would be trained to work as a team and return small prey undamaged. Guard dogs would be trained to bark and growl at intruders and lap dogs would be trained to perform a wide range of amusing tricks for entertainment.

Whatever the training, it was recommended that dogs be rewarded either in the form of food or praise. The historian Arrian states that one should pat one's dog, caress it's head by pulling gently on the ears and speak its name along with a hearty word or two. "Good boy!" "Good girl!" But of course these activities were just a small part of a dog's life. Much of their time was spent doing things we would be familiar with today; going for walks, chasing animals, begging for food, getting in trouble, playing fetch, cuddling and taking long naps. Really, things haven't changed so much since then.

Just as today, people and dogs formed close bonds that lasted a lifetime. The passing of a pet could take quite the toll and we have many records of individuals grieving for the loss of their companion. What I find particularly touching are the tombs and epitaphs left in remembrance of these loved ones. I'll read you a selection that I find quite touching. "To Helena, foster child, soul without comparison and deserving of praise." "Mia never barked without reason but now he is silent.? My eyes were wet with tears our little dog when I bore you to the grave; so Patricus never again shall you give me a thousand kisses, never can you be contented within my lap. In sadness have I buried you and you deservest in a resting place of marble. I have put you for all time by the side of my shade. In your qualities you were sagacious as a human being. Ah me, what a love companion we have lost." "Here the stone says it holds the white dog from Melita, the most faithful guardian of Umelus. Bold they called him while he was yet alive but now his voice is imprisoned in the silent pathways of the night. You who pass by, if you see this monument, laugh not I pray though it is a dog's grave. Tears fell for me and dust was heaped about me by a master's hand. I am in tears while carrying you to your last resting place as much as I rejoiced in bringing you home in my own hands 15 years ago."

I'll admit, reading these passages for the first time brought tears to my eyes. I lost a dog of my own not too long ago and I can viscerally feel the sorrow carved into each and every word. But at the same time I have to appreciate that this shared loss puts me in touch with someone from thousands of years ago to a degree it's really impossible any other way. I think we all too often see the past as cold, remote and even inhuman. I hope that in this video I've been able to shed some light on the universality of the human experience and in particular celebrating a friendship that transcends time.

Erica: Well thank you Zoya for that.

Tiffany: That was so sad.

Doug: Yeah.

Erica: I've been there. It is sad.

Doug: I like some of those dog names though like Deer-slayer. And Stubborn was pretty funny too. Can you imagine calling your dog Stubborn? Come here Stubborn.

Erica: Or another one, a friend has named Trouble. "Here comes Trouble". {laughter}

Tiffany: There was a mention that one of the dogs lived 15 years.

Erica: That's a great companion.

Tiffany: Yeah. Can't say that ancient dogs had a short and brutal life.

Erica: Well thank you all for joining us and I hope you're inspired by glycine as we are.

Doug: It's enticing.

Erica: It's enticing. And so if no one has anything else to add...

Tiffany: Try it for yourself. Experiment. Collect data.

Erica: And if you're looking for good recipes for bone broth which can be made from beef or chicken or even seafood, see the book Nourishing Traditions. We did a show a couple of years ago now. It's pretty easy to make. Just make sure that you get ideally grass fed, organic meat or bones so you don't have to deal with that glyphosate issue or feel a little less stressed about the glyphosate issue. One great thing about stocks or bone broth is that you can use it in everything, so making gravies or sauces so you can get that glycine naturally. So thanks for joining us. Be sure to tune in for the shows this weekend, the Truth Perspective on Saturday and NewsReal on Sunday. We'll be back next week with another interesting topic.

All: Good-byes.