Before diving into the methionine to glycine ratio, we shall analyze each component individually to aid in understanding the importance of balancing the two.
Methionine is an amino acid we obtain from protein, especially muscle meat. The unique functions of methionine can be seen in the image above.
As discussed in here, methionine plays a critical role in methylation. Methionine works within a system. When the other components of this system are lacking, methionine is unable to contribute properly to methylation, which can lead to depleted glycine, toxic byproducts, & reduced longevity. Modern diets are typically high in muscle meats and low in organs, bones and connective tissues, leading to high levels of methionine, low levels of glycine, and not enough of the other critical nutrients that help process the methionine. Now, let's detail glycine before discussing how to potentially optimize your methionine to glycine ratio.
Glycine, like methionine, is an amino acid, but it is not considered “essential” - reason being, our bodies can make glycine, so we technically do not need to consume it.
However, it’s been estimated that our ability to produce glycine likely falls short of our daily needs and that an excess of methionine can further deplete our glycine. Our bodies adapt to states of glycine deficiency by reducing our own turnover of collagen (think: accelerated aging, arthritis, poor skin elasticity, etc.)... We don’t want that, so it would be wise to consume some external source(s) of such. The unique functions of glycine can be seen in the image above. Our ancestors naturally ate a diet high in glycine through regular consumption of bones and connective tissue. Today, most of us do not, and for those of us eating a higher protein diet (1+ gram of protein per lb of bodyweight), it’s useful to understand just how much glycine we should intake to ensure we’re not impairing the proper functioning of methylation. The suggested amounts in the image below are based on Dr. Chris Masterjohn’s compilation and interpretation of the existing biochemistry, as well as our recommended sources of such.
Now what about balancing these two amino acids? The "methionine to glycine" ratio?
The Methionine to Glycine Ratio
One synergistic relationship particularly relevant in a meat heavy carnivore diet is between methionine & glycine. When working in conjunction, methionine, glycine, & certain other nutrients provide a beautiful orchestra of detoxification & enhanced protein function. First, protein function? Proteins are made up of amino acids - the specific make-up of such determines their function in the body. It’s no doubt proteins are important, and we want all these functions working effectively to feel and look our best. Modern diets high in methionine & low in synergistic other nutrients can result in unwanted byproducts and disfunction. Glycine is one of these components, but studies demonstrate b12, b6, & folate assist in managing high levels of methionine, as well. - nce methionine needs are met, excess is converted to glutathione *with the assistance of several nutrients, including glycine* —> glutathione is a powerful antioxidant & key regulator of protein (we want this!!), helping to prevent damage from reactive oxygen breeds, such as free radicals (don’t want these!!). However, with low levels of glycine, instead of synthesizing glutathione, another amino acid, homocysteine, can accumulate. The build up of homocysteine is often linked to heart disease. The liver actually *requires* a “buffer system” to protect against excessive methylation and homocysteine build up. This buffer system, ya guessed it, includes glycine, choline (similar to b vitamins) & betaine (a modified amino acid that includes glycine). Take away message —> to safely handle the excess methionine potentially stemming from a high meat diet, we should balance muscle meat (methionine) with glycine, b vitamins, choline, & betaine. Our ancestors did not meticulously track how much of these nutrients they ate. Rather, eating from the whole animal naturally keeps this ratio in check. View the image below for some simple suggestions to promote a healthy ratio & improved methylation.
Note: there are gene mutations that can impact one’s nutrient requirements, more on this in a future post.
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