Called the mother of all antioxidants by Mark Hyman MD, glutathione – pronounced gloota-thigh-own, is one of the hottest topics in both the natural health and medical circles today. Nearly 117,000 peer reviewed scientific articles have addressed this powerhouse molecule, and as more information comes out, it is becoming increasingly obvious that many people are deficient causing pre- mature aging.
We become deficient due to infections, chronic stress, injuries, environmental toxins, so called health food, genetically modified food, artificial sweeteners, overuse of antibiotics, and radiation therapy (used in Cancer treatments).
Glutathione (GSH) is a peptide consisting of three key amino acids and plays several vital roles in our body. Researchers in search of the fountain of youth, believe that it is so important to our health that the level of GSH in our cells can predict of how long we will live!
GSH is so crucial for health that every cell in our body produces it. It is the body’s most important antioxidant because it’s within the cell. Although it is absolutely essential in maintaining a healthy immune system, it is not technically an “essential nutrient” because the amino acids L-cysteine, L-glutamic acid, and glycine can produce it. Confused? Yup – so am I!
Glutathione does many things. It links together with drugs to make them more digestible, preventing drug resistance.
It is a helper molecule for some important enzymes such as glutathione peroxidase which protects us from oxidative damage. It is involved in protein disulfide bond rearrangement which is incredibly important in the reproduction of 1/3 of human proteins.
It plays a crucial role in immune function, promotes T-cell function, which is critical for a strong immune system.
It protects from environmental toxins such as natural bleaching agents which are harmful to the body,
It helps detoxify methylglyoxal which is a toxin produced as a by product of our metabolism.
It is involved with leukotriene production which is a vital component for inflammatory and hypersensitivity reactions.
It helps the liver detoxify fat before bile is emitted taking stress off the gallbladder.
One of the most promising areas of GSH research is the role that it plays in cancer. “By conferring resistance to a number of chemotherapeutic drugs, an important 2004 study published in the Cell Biochemistry and Function highlights, that Elevated levels of glutathione in tumor cells are able to protect such cells in bone marrow, breast, colon, larynx and lung cancers.”
The reverse is also true. According to Italian researchers from the Department of Experimental Medicine, Section of General Pathology (Genoa), GSH deficiency causes cells to be more vulnerable to oxidative stress, which contributes to cancer development.
A growing number of researchers are now expecting that the increase of neurological diseases and cancer are due to glutathione deficiency. Glutathione is a potent anti-cancer agent, because the cells produce it – you cannot over- dose on it.
There are multiple ways we can increase our glutathione – the most effective way is to increase intake of the following foods.
The best natural sources are;
- Milk Thistle
Silymarin, a unique flavonoid complex derived from the milk thistle plant, has been used for liver damage and biliary tract disease. According to scientists, the secret to milk thistle’s healing ability is its ability to enhance GSH. Milk thistle can actually help protect the liver from toxicity when consuming alcohol – which is well-known to cause glutathione levels to drop dramatically.
- Whey Protein
Whey protein improves glutathione levels by boosting cysteine which helps rebuild glutathione when it is depleted from an immune response. Recent studies show that whey protein naturally increases glutathione for fighting cancer, strengthening the immune system, increasing metabolism, and reducing appetite. It is extremely important to purchase the right type of whey protein though. Avoid highly processed whey, or protein isolate. Only take natural or organic whey, free of pesticides, hormones, genetically modified organisms, artificial sweeteners and gluten free.
- Sulfur Foods
In the mid 1990s, it was found that GSH concentrations took a nosedive in the liver and lungs when sulphur amino acid intake was inadequate. So a diet high in greens such as bok choy, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, radish, turnips and water cress is important. What these greens have in common are that they are all Sulphur containing greens.
N-Acetyle Cysteine (NAC) – this supplement is a precursor to the major antioxidant. It is highly effective in increasing glutathione levels within the body. It has also been found to be a unbelievably effective asthma remedy as it decreases the severity and frequency of the wheezing and respiratory attacks as it thins bronchial mucus. NAC is a precursor to glutathione and has been proven highly efficient at treating neurocognitive issues such as addiction, compulsive behaviours, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.The recommended amount is 200-500mg 1x daily.
a-Lipoic Acid helps restore GSH levels with any immune system depletion. In fact, it is helps reverse diabetes. Taking only 300-1200 mg of alpha lipoic acid daily helps improves insulin sensitivity and reduces symptoms of diabetic neuropathy. It has also been shown clinically to restore total blood GSH status and lymphocyte function in HIV/AIDS patients.
- Methylation Nutrients (Vitamins B6, B9, B12, and biotin)
In the words of Dr. Mark Hyman, methylation ingredients “are perhaps the most critical to keep the body producing glutathione.” The best way to keep your methylation ingredients at optimal levels is to eat chickpeas, liver, pinto beans, lentils, spinach, asparagus, avocado, beets, black eyed peas, and broccoli.
Selenium is a powerful anti-oxidant and is needed by your body to create GSH. Brazil nuts, yellow fin tuna, halibut, sardines, grass fed beef, turkey, beef liver, chicken, eggs, and spinach all supply our bodies with selenium.
- Vitamin C & E
Vitamin C helps raise glutathione in red blood cells and lymphocytes. Vitamin E is an important antioxidant that works with GSH to prevent damage from reactive oxygen and protects glutathione-dependent enzymes. So together, they are a super team as they work together to keep you disease free! Eat oranges, red peppers, kale, brussel sprouts, broccoli, strawberries, grapefruit, guava, kiwi fruit, green peppers to up your vitamin C. For vitamin E, eat almonds, spinach, sweet potato, avocado, wheat germ, sunflower seeds, butternut squash, trout and olive oil.
- Beef Liver
Beef liver has shown to boost selenium and gluthione production better than any supplement. Studies have shown that because the nutrition has been concentrated in the liver, eating this organ from a local grass-fed, organic cow is a highly effective way to boost glutathione levels and that the levels of selenium in beef and in beef liver are far more bioavailable than supplements.
Glutathione is rapidly broken down by the digestive tract, so supplementing can be a bit tricky. Research has shown that there are three forms which have a direct impact on Glutathione levels – you ideally need to speak again to a naturopath in a health food store to find out which works for you.
The 3 types are;
N-Acetyle Cysteine (NAC) – this supplement is a precursor to the major antioxidant. It is highly effective in increasing glutathione levels within the body. It can be taken with or without food 400 – 1200 mg daily in 2 – 3 doses.
Liposomal Glutathione – this glutathione is great when combined with liposomes as it needs the liposomes to get it through the digestive tract and into the cells. Only purchase it with sunflower lecithin take without food 1 – 2 doses at 200 – 500 mg.
S – Acetylated Glutathione – is very similar to liposomal glutathione as it passes through the gut and diffuses into the body. The acetylated bone is then cleaved by enzymes within the cells without requiring any energy expenditure. Take away from food 1 -2 times daily at 200 – 500 mg.
Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) is a powerful anti-oxidant which has both water and fat soluble properties meaning it can go in and out of major organs such as the brain, liver and nerves. It increases glutathione levels indirectly by regenerating antioxidants such as vitamin C, E and Q10. Lipoic acid protects the mitochondria from oxidative stress and toxicity better than anything else. Much research is being done indicating that ALA maintains insulin sensitivity, optimizing blood sugar levels and strengthens blood vessels. It improves adrenal output, strengthens the gut lining and protects against leaky gut syndrome as well as assisting the liver to detoxify effectively. It also reduces inflammation and balances the tone of the immune system in such a way that it reduces autoimmune activity. Take 400 – 800 R – alpha lipoic acid daily 1-2 times between meals.
Personally I have found one supplement which is a sustained release formulation and will not be affected by stomach acids and digestive enzymes. It is Thorne Research Glutathione –SR but it will not work by itself if your diet is still lacking, and, or you are doing your best to trash it! I highly recommend taking Milk Thistle as well if you are a drinker, or eat a fatty diet! Alpha Lipoic Acid will not go astray either!
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