Understanding Glutathione

Meet the mother of all antioxidants.
Sulfur-rich veggies like this broccoli “marrow” help boost glutathione levels.

By Tapp Francke

Glutathione is the best thing for you that you have never heard of. This mighty molecule is the most critical antioxidant in your body—so why have you never heard of it? Because glutathione is produced by your body, most people don’t know it even exists. It is recognized in the wellness community as having miraculous antiaging and wellness benefits. Known as the master antioxidant, glutathione is essential for defending us from dangerous, disease-causing toxins. 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—equals a recipe for ill health. These toxins are known to cause cancer, to disrupt the delicate balance of hormones by creating unrestrained cell disintegration. This forces the cell into early cellular death.

Enter glutathione. This superhero antioxidant swoops in and binds to free radicals, rendering them harmless. Dr. Mark Hyman of the UltraWellness Center in Massachusetts explains that the way glutathione adheres to the bad guys is with the sticky sulfur it contains: it acts like flypaper in the body, sticking to all the chemicals and heavy metals, 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 a deficiency of glutathione contributes to oxidative stress, which may 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 power-house, the body struggles to defend itself.

The body, when given the correct tools, has an extraordinary ability to heal itself. Glutathione, one of those natural healers, can be depleted by factors such as stress, poor diet, infections, and 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 diseases 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 consume 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:

  1. Eat sulfur-rich foods like broccoli, cauliflower, kale and cabbage.
  2. Consume an adequate amount of protein (.8 grams per pound of body weight) so that your body has the amino acid building blocks it requires. Please note here that protein is not only derived from animal sources; it can be also be found in vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds and blue-green algae.
  3. Supplements such as NAC (N-acetyl cysteine), alpha lipoic acid, methylated B vitamins, selenium, and vitamins C and E can help increase production and recycling of this critical antioxidant.
  4. Stay away from processed foods, which increase glutathione degradation.
  5. 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.
  6. Get proper sleep. I can’t stress this enough. Insufficient sleep increases glutathione degradation.
  7. Exercise at least 30 minutes a day. This helps boost glutathione production.

The presence of glutathione in adequate levels is a major part of our body being able to keep itself well. Before taking any supplement, please consult with your doctor or other healthcare practitioner. STANDwellness.com