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Glycine and the Immune System

By Joel Brind

So I?ve been writing for a number of years now about the advantages of supplementing your eating regimen with glycine. (Full disclosure: I?ve additionally been selling glycine on-line, cleverly disguised as a sweetener referred to as ?sweetamine??). I received into it because my studies on nutritional biochemistry and amino acid metabolism led me to attempt it out myself, each on lab rats and myself. I assumed it couldn?t harm, and might solely assist, by helping to eliminate extra methionine from my typical high-protein food plan. However after some time of experimenting and learning the comparatively scant literature on the subject, it turned clear that glycine?s fundamental benefits are to the immune system.

In fact, in case your immune system appears to be functioning nicely, that is, you don?t get critically sick, and if you find yourself unwell in any respect you get over it pretty quick, and so on., it?s exhausting to recognize any benefit in any respect. What I ended up discovering?amongst other issues?was the incontrovertible fact that the immune system itself is extensively misunderstood, even by?or should I say, especially by?the well being specialists.

I studied immunology (one in every of my areas of specialization) in grad faculty (truly at NYU Medical Faculty) back in the late 1970?s. The just about exclusive focus of the texts and the course was the quest for the ?holy grail? of acquired immunity; the foundation of vaccination and of particular immunity towards particular bugs: The good thriller was how the immune system might be educated to make particular antibody molecules to microbes which it had by no means encountered earlier than. In any case, particular antibody protein molecules have to be coded for by specific sequences of DNA, and you?re born with all the DNA you?ll ever have. So everybody in the area of immunology, it seemed, was consumed with the quest for a Nobel Prize for solving this nice riddle. The thriller was solved, ultimately, and perhaps someone acquired a Nobel Prize for it?I don?t know?however it did not really add any information as to easy methods to make a superb vaccine, for example.

However I digress. Truly, the entire area of immunology digressed, and largely still does so at present; still preoccupied with acquired immunity, to the neglect of the far much less glamorous innate immunity. Innate immunity is the a lot much less specific perform that really saves the rear ends of most of us when a new plague rolls into town; some new bug that no one?s immune system has ever seen before. The challenge to the immune system: Kill that nasty bug before it kills us! So the effector cells of innate immunity?ameba-like cells referred to as macrophages?are summoned to the scene by common chemical markers of bacteria or viruses or fungi?and they go into motion, making hydrogen peroxide and different poisons. These poisons will kill the bugs all proper, but additionally they kill regular physique cells, as well as usually making a conflict zone characterized by the basic signs of irritation: redness, swelling, warmth, ache and immobility.

Irritation is an excellent factor. When working correctly it is so properly regulated and brief lived that it’s hardly observed. But it is because of inflammation that, for example, most people uncovered to the Ebola virus don?t even get sick (but they do get immunized).

However inflammation can also be usually what happens in the case of damage, including blunt damage, by which there are not any microbes to kill. That?s precisely why you set ice on it initially, to suppress irritation. In any other case, it takes longer to heal. So why exactly does inflammation happen when there are not any microbes round to defend towards? Why does your immune system go into motion to kill bugs that aren?t there? Seems like immune system paranoia, doesn?t it?

And that?s the primary physiological perform of glycine in the immune system: It regulates the macrophages so they can just go about the boring enterprise of cleaning up the mess after damage, with out getting activated to start out capturing up the place with poisons! Though glycine is generally around in pretty high concentrations in physique fluids, it?s not at levels which are high enough to keep the macrophages?resident in all bodily organs, together with the mind?from making an attempt to stop an infection that isn?t there.

So how was this easy reality missed for therefore a few years, even many years, even centuries?

As a result of a deficiency of glycine is so common, and because glycine was dismissed for as long as a ?non-essential? nutrient.

Once I say that glycine deficiency is almost common, I mean that we consider it as regular that damage produces inflammation (regardless that there seems to be no good cause for it). But what I discovered on glycine supplementation is that it isn’t. So once I fell four ft onto a concrete flooring immediately onto my tailbone, but managed?by way of the intense preliminary ache?to complete what I was doing, and then (with no ice) had no drawback literally going out dancing that evening, I knew that taking 8 grams of glycine each day was doing something BIG. The subsequent morning, I not only felt high-quality, however all I needed to show for my fall was an enormous bruise on my decrease back?the only proof my damage was not a dream!

The next summer time I went to observe a ball recreation on a wonderful cloudless day; hatless, sunscreenless, in a tee shirt and shorts. About the fifth inning I observed a warm sensation on my thighs, solely to look down and see all my uncovered skin the colour of a boiled lobster. Wow! I had not let that happen to me since I was in my twenties. And I knew that that night time, and for days thereafter, I might have large ache and problem bathing, dressing and undressing. And in any case that it might simply blister up and peel off! So in fact I instantly moved to a shady seat to observe the rest of the recreation. However then, a tremendous factor didn?t happen! No ache, no immobility, and the redness simply began to fade, leaving maybe a hint of shade the subsequent day (alas, no actual tan both!)

So ultimately I put two and two (and some actually spot on revealed research by a gaggle at the College of North Carolina from the 1990s) together, and realized that irritation doesn?t happen with damage the place there isn’t any an infection. It simply heals, and much quicker, too! A lot better when your immune system isn?t paranoid!

Now a minimum of it’s extensively acknowledged that the majority of what makes individuals sick and die nowadays is continual irritation. So why ought to that happen when there’s not solely no an infection, but no damage both? That brings us to the topic of micro-injury; damage to just a small number of cells, or the natural demise of some number of cells from a traditional process. Such happen repetitively?chronically?even in a wholesome physique, but at low levels of which we are sometimes unaware. In a healthy physique, such micro-injuries simply heal, nbd. However what if the low degree tissue damage produces low-level inflammation, because the physique has insufficient levels of glycine to restrain those macrophages from activation? It produces persistent inflammation.

So listed here are some widespread examples:

  • Blood move: The arterial aspect of your circulatory system is a excessive strain fluid system. In any such system, turbulence develops naturally at high-pressure department factors, e.g., the place your coronary arteries, carotid arteries and renal arteries branch off the systemic aorta. Turbulence naturally produces micro-injury. If it simply heals, nbd. If glycine is deficient, it produces irritation, which chronically develops into atherosclerosis, causing heart assault, stroke, malignant hypertension, and so on.
  • Ovulation: In a younger fertile lady, every month, an egg is ovulated from one or the different ovary. It’s truly an explosive process, literally like the egg?s being shot out of a cannon!

Naturally, that produces native damage to the ovary. And it produces irritation (a minimum of in the standard state of glycine deficiency). And what number of occasions a lady ovulates in her lifetime is instantly related to her danger of ovarian most cancers. That?s why having plenty of youngsters and breastfeeding them, or taking contraceptive steroids (?the capsule?), lowers the danger of creating ovarian cancer (which solely happens, for my part, if one is glycine deficient).

  • Vigorous exercise: Understanding at the fitness center, or shoveling the snow, sometimes produces muscle soreness the subsequent day, as a result of some muscle fibers are torn. The physique responds by building more muscle fibers (?No ache; no achieve?), but the soreness is actually as a consequence of inflammation. It doesn?t occur whenever you supplement with glycine.

In fact, the prevention of atherosclerosis and cancer by glycine supplementation won’t be confirmed for some years, as it takes a lot of time for these persistent circumstances to develop (although animal experiments and observational studies are already providing some good evidence).

At this point, I feel one among the important impediments to appreciating the significance of glycine is what we’d name the drug mentality. So let?s say you could have persistent ache in my knee. I take 8 grams/day supplemental glycine, and in a number of days, the ache goes away. So now you recognize that glycine made your pain and irritation go away, and after a time, you’ll be able to stop taking it, because the situation has been ?cured?, as if by a drug. But glycine is just not a drug! A more accurate method to take a look at the state of affairs is the undeniable fact that glycine made a distinction is merely the proof that you simply have been poor on this nutrient to begin with! So your innate immune system was in a state of paranoia, attacking microbes that weren?t there, just due to persistent, low-level tissue damage. However the ?immune system paranoia? will return, if glycine deficiency returns.

About the Writer

Joel Brind, Ph.D. has been a Professor of Biology and Endocrinology at Baruch School of the City University of New York for over 30 years and a medical research biochemist since 1981. Long specializing in steroid biosynthesis and metabolism and endocrine-related cancers, he has specialised in amino acid metabolism in recent times, notably in relation to glycine and one-carbon metabolism. In 2010 he founded Natural Food Science, LLC to make and market glycine supplement products by way of?sweetamine.com, which includes his own blog?HERE.

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