Glucosamine is one of the most popular supplements today. According to a 2007 National Health Interview Survey, almost 20% of adults who reported taking supplements took glucosamine. Only fish oil was more popular.
What is Glucosamine?
Glucosamine is an amino sugar. Your body uses it to build cartilage. This connective tissue is tougher than muscle but more flexible than bone. Among other things, it pads the end of your long bones. It thereby cushions these bones from impact and also keeps joint motion flexible.
One mineral that your body needs to build and repair cartilage is sulfur. Glucosamine contains natural sulfur. It plays a role in helping your cartilage use this key nutrient.
Natural glucosamine is found in the shells of shrimp, lobsters, crabs, and other shellfish. It can also be found in corn, wheat, and certain fungi, however, nature made glucosamine is often hard for people to digest. For example, the glucosamine sourced from corn is derived by first fermenting the grain. Since natural sources of glucosamine are hard to find, most people stick to supplements such as glucosamine powder or capsules to get enough of this important nutrient.
Why is it useful for Body Builders?
The reason bodybuilders should supplement with glucosamine is that it prevents joint deterioration. Most bodybuilders are hard on their joints. They have to push themselves to get the results they want. By using supplements such as glucosamine, they can protect their cartilage from breaking down and help it remain flexible.
In addition to preventing deterioration of the joints, glucosamine can help with joint pain and back pain as well as with weight loss. The side effects of supplementation are generally mild. They can include stomach upsets, headaches, and rashes.
What foods are high in glucosamine?
Unfortunately, there are only a few cases of glucosamine in foods. Rich natural sources of glucosamine include animal bones, including the bone marrow, the fluid around joints, shellfish, and fungi. As mentioned earlier, vegan sources of natural glucosamine can be created from corn and wheat, but the grains must be processed in order for this to occur.
Traditional diets used to provide this nutrient through their cuisine, and you can too. So, what can you do if you’d like to have nature made glucosamine from food instead of taking a pill? Well, it’s not as simple as eating some berries or adding protein. In order to get enough bioavailable glucosamine, you’ll have to do what traditional societies did, which is to boil or otherwise cook some of the less popular parts of the animals we eat. Here are some suggestions of glucosamine foods:
Eat the tough parts of your steak
People love tender, succulent steaks that melt in your mouth. However, a tough steak might be better for you. If it’s got cartilage, instead of cutting it or spitting it out, you might try eating it. The natural cartilage found in meat is a great source of the nutrients you need to make your own cartilage.
Make an Authentic Chinese Soup
If you’ve ever walked into an Asian grocery, you may have been surprised to see chicken feet being sold. While these large appendages don’t seem appetizing, they are chock full of natural glucosamine. The Chinese will wash these and then boil them down to create a stock that is rich in nutrients. No wonder Bruce Lee’s movements were always so dynamic.
You’re not restricted to chicken, either, if you want to go this route. If you’ve bought a whole turkey for Thanksgiving or decided to make Peking duck, you can use turkey and duck feet as well. Really, any type of bird’s feet will give you the makings of a healthy stock.
Make like a French Chef with Oxtail Soup or Roasted Marrow Bones
Several recipes high in nature made glucosamine feature in French cuisine. One of the most popular is the oxtail soup. Typically cooked with red wine and root vegetables, this is can be rich, meaty comfort food on a winters’ day.
Roast marrow bones, on the other hand, are served with a slice of toasted baguette and a green salad of parsley and chives. The marrow is scooped from the bones and spread on the toast. This light and flavorful dish are welcome in warmer weather.
Bring out your inner Italian with Osso Bucco
This dish originated in Lombardy. Traditionally, it is made with veal shanks braised in white wine and broth with vegetables. But it is also made with pork or beef. Like all of the featured dishes, it uses bones to provide nutrients.
Eat like a Scotsman
Some of the body parts that are highest in glucosamine include things most people never eat, such as lungs and trachea. Yet in traditional societies, when an animal was slaughtered, people found ways to use these. One example of this is haggis, which is still consumed by the Scots. The main ingredient in haggis is a sheep’s “pluck”, which includes the internal organs. The trachea itself is generally not minced, but rather is boiled with the other ingredients and then discarded, as the trachea is quite chewy.
Cook your shrimp with the shells on
Whether making a stir fry or a seafood soup, don’t de-shell your shrimp until after they’ve been cooked. At that point, go ahead and peel off the shells and toss them. However, by cooking your shrimp with the shells on, you allow some of the glucosamine to leach into the cooking liquids.
Try some Mussel soup
Whether poached in wine and garlic or in a delicate broth with saffron, green-lipped mussels are one of the foods highest in nature made glucosamine. These are sourced from New Zealand so it’s harder to find stateside. However, your local mussels will do in a pinch. They also have an enzyme inhibitor that helps prevent joint aging.
Sip your Bone Broth
Rich, gelatinous bone broth is a health powerhouse. It was what was originally served in the first French restaurants and it’s recently become a bit of a fad. But it deserves to be a regular part of your diet, due to its many health benefits. One of these is that it’s loaded with glucosamine as well as other nutrients that will support your joint health. You can buy bone broth, or you can make it yourself. It’s easy to do in a crockpot. Most recipes call for simmering it for 24-48 hours.
Glucosamine is an important nutrient and you can read more about it. It helps to keep your joints flexible and improves mobility. It helps your body cope with the rigors of a serious workout. As a bodybuilder, you’re probably already taking a supplement. However, if you’d like to get more glucosamine in its natural form, try some of the suggestions provided. These are the ways that people of previous generations made sure they got enough of this valuable substance.