Glutathione: Virtually Unknown Agent of Natural Healing
Monday, September 7, 2015 - Author: Rebecca James
Glutathione and other Antioxidants
Glutathione is an essential component of our body's natural ability to heal itself. Antioxidants work to protect your body from the stresses and toxins that accumulate every day. To protect your body, you need your immune system to be in tip-top shape. Antioxidants are your best defense and at the top of the list is glutathione. This vital antioxidant is found in every cell of our body.
The cells in our body receive their energy from mitochondria. When glutathione is at an optimum level, it keeps the mitochondria functioning as it should. Mitochondria are constantly waging war against free radicals in our bodies. Antioxidants purify the blood and save your body from oxidation. Glutathione plays a vital role in this process, thus protecting our body from illness and premature aging. Other antioxidants depend on glutathione to help them do their job also.
Without antioxidants, nature's free radicals would cause endless damage to our bodies and healthy living would be impossible. But given the proper support, our body has the capacity to heal itself.
Once we reach adulthood, our body produces less glutathione. We lose about 8 to 12% every 10 years. So by the time we reach middle age, we need all the help we can get to slow down this process.
At this time most of us would think, "It's time for a supplement to help my aging body". That's only partly true, because in the case of supplements containing actual 'glutathione', our digestive tract is so acidic, that the fragile glutathione molecule would be broken down before it could do us any good. The theory is that the more glutathione you produce naturally, the better your body performs at eliminating toxins, and the longer you will live.
What is the Best Diet?
So, what then does help the production of glutathione? We all know that eating right is necessary for good health, but now we also know that our diet determines how well our body can manufacture its own glutathione.
A diet consisting mostly of whole, minimally cooked food will ensure glutathione replenishment and provide the necessary foundation of amino acids and other antioxidants. The following list includes those foods that have the greatest effect on glutathione and protecting against free radicals.
Vegetables (preferably organic): asparagus, spinach, avocado, squash, bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, garlic, kale, and onions
Fruits (preferably organic): melons, grapefruit, peaches, strawberries, mangos
Fresh meats especially organ meats, seafood, and eggs
Whey protein that is undenatured contains the amino acid cysteine which is essential to glutathione production.
Brewer's yeast, Brazil nuts
Are Supplements Necessary?
In addition to having a diet based upon healthy foods as above, there are supplements (e.g. Cellgevity) that contain precursors for natural glutathione production. To give our body the best chance to rejuvenate, we need to supply our body with proper foundation to build on. Glutathione works with amino acids work to replenish what is used up each day with stress, exercise, unhealthy habits, etc. Cysteine is a sulfur-rich amino acid that is very delicate, and hard to get enough of in our diets alone. It is crucial to the production of glutathione. Supplementing with amino acids is one of the best ways to boost the production of glutathione.
- N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) is made from the amino acid l-cysteine. NAC enters the bloodstream where it joins with glycine and glutamic acid to raise the glutathione levels in the liver.
- Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) is a necessary antioxidant that is water and fat soluble. This means it can rid the entire body of free radicals. ALA is easily absorbed and works with glutathione to restore its antioxidant power.
- Vitamin C works together with glutathione to eliminate toxins.
- Glutathione levels can be raised by another antioxidant called lipoic acid.
- Resveratrol, fish oil, and green tea are other antioxidants said to contain a substance that enables the body to replenish its own glutathione.
- Selenium is a mineral that aids in the body's ability to produce glutathione.
Most glutathione is made inside the body from three amino acids: glutamic acid, cysteine and glycine. Anything that taxes the body will cause glutathione levels to drop and illness to occur. These common stressors include lack of sleep, poor diet, medications, pollution, and toxins in the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the water we drink. Smoking and alcohol also deplete our store of glutathione. It is crucial, then, to maintain adequate levels of glutathione, especially for those with a chronic illness or an autoimmune disease.
Are Free Radicals Dangerous?
Free radicals are unstable molecules in our body that cause damage to our tissue and organs because of their erratic behavior. Glutathione grabs on to free radicals and neutralizes them, helps strengthen the immune system and helps detoxify the liver by converting them to a form that can be flushed out of the body. Other ways that free radicals can be avoided is to minimize the use of chemicals in favor of natural products for personal care and cleaning. Minimizing your toxic burden will help preserve your body's ability to produce glutathione, and also reduce excess demands on your body's current glutathione supplies. Glutathione also lends itself to other antioxidants that are out of energy and revitalizes them.
Having adequate levels of glutathione in our systems helps protect our entire body against the damaging effects of free radicals. Excess free-radical damage can contribute to many diseases, including schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, and Parkinson's that primarily affect the brain. Other diseases thought to be related to low glutathione levels are cancer, and heart disease.
Glutathione aids the liver in getting rid of unwanted toxins in the body. Did you know that many of the personal care products and household cleaners we use everyday actually contain toxic chemicals? Another common source of toxins in our homes is mold. Mold spores are generated from grain, nuts, trees, and other seeds. Other toxins can filter into our drinking water and food sources from manmade plastics.
Glutathione is a tripeptide, meaning that it is made up of three different amino acids. During digestion the three amino acids get separated, then reassemble in the blood. Glutathione helps to recharge other antioxidants, thus protecting our cells from free-radical-induced oxidation. The best way to help your body is to provide it with plenty of amino acids as the perfect base for glutathione.
Reducing stress and eating healthy natural foods are essential to getting glutathione to replenish its stores. Combine this with a precursor supplement and add exercise to the mix and you will lead a much healthier life.
Yoga and low impact aerobic exercise are great at relieving stress. Not only will exercise help production of glutathione, it will also strengthen your body, which strengthens your immune system, which makes it easier to eliminate toxins in the body. Although it's not a good idea to diagnose yourself, a healthy diet, reducing stress and toxins, and exercise can only help your body to produce its own glutathione naturally.
No matter what you choose to do, make sure you seek the advice of a reputable healthcare professional that you trust prior to making any major changes in your lifestyle.