Glutathione is the best thing for you that you have never heard of. This mother-of-all-antioxidants is the most critical antioxidant in your body. So why have you never heard of it? Because this mighty molecule is produced by your body, most people don’t know it even exists. It is recognized in the wellness community as having miraculous anti-aging and wellness benefits. Known as the master antioxidant of the body, glutathione is essential for defending us from dangerous, disease-causing toxins. We know about the importance of eating foods rich in antioxidants and maybe even taking antioxidant supplements, but what about one that your body makes to defend itself? Think about this potent protein as your in-house police force. Exposure to environmental chemicals like pesticides, heavy metals, bromide-based flame retardants and fuel emissions along with the free radicals created by stress and you have a recipe for ill health. These toxins are known to cause cancer and to disrupt the delicate balance of hormones in our bodies by creating unrestrained cell disintegration. This forces the cell into early cellular death.
Enter glutathione. This superhero antioxidant swoops in and binds to these free radicals and renders them harmless. Dr. Mark Hyman of the UltraWellness Center in Massachusetts explains that the way glutathione binds to the bad guys is with the sticky, sulfur it contains. This molecule acts like flypaper in the body, sticking to all the chemicals and heavy metals and escorting them out of the body. A 2004 report in the Journal of Nutrition states that glutathione plays a key role in multiple biological responses including detoxification and immune defense. The article also points out that that a deficiency of glutathione can make the body more susceptible to diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, cancer, stroke, cystic fibrosis and diabetes. This is due to the role that glutathione plays in squelching free radicals. Without this antioxidant powerhouse the body struggles to defend itself.
The body, when given the correct tools, has an extraordinary ability to heal itself. Glutathione is one of those natural healers. Glutathione, however, gets depleted by infections, stress, poor diet, lack of proper sleep, pollution and certain medications. Additionally, some people’s genetics make it more difficult for their body to produce glutathione. Signs and symptoms of insufficient glutathione are fatigue, and susceptibility to chronic disease like diabetes, cancer and Lyme disease. So why don’t we just take it in pill form? As Dr. Hyman points out glutathione is a protein. When we take it orally our digestion tends to break it down into individual amino acids which means that your body will not receive the help it needs.
So, what can we do? We can give our body the building blocks of this master detoxifier which can help to increase levels. Listed are some of the best ways to boost your glutathione naturally.
- Eat sulfur-rich foods like broccoli, cauliflower, kale and cabbage.
- Eat adequate protein (.8 grams per 1lb of body weight) so that your body has the amino acid building blocks it requires. Please note here that protein is not only from animal sources. Protein can be found in vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds and blue-green algae.
- Supplements such as NAC, Alpha Lipoic Acid, methylated B-vitamins, selenium and vitamins C and E can help to increase production and recycling of this critical antioxidant
- Avoid processed foods which increase glutathione degradation.
- Avoid exposure to environmental toxins wherever you can. Use natural body products, don’t smoke, minimize alcohol use, use toxin-free cleaning products in your home and eat organic foods.
- Get proper sleep. I can’t stress this enough. Improper sleep increases glutathione degradation.
- Exercise at least 30 minutes a day. This helps boost glutathione production.
It’s difficult to overstate the importance of this terrific tripeptide. The presence of glutathione in adequate levels is a major part of our body being able to keep itself well. Before taking any supplements please consult with your doctor or other healthcare practitioner. Not every supplement is appropriate for every person.
By Tapp Francke Ingolia
as seen in The Purist