Glutathione is a compound of three amino acids naturally produced by the body, and functions as the body’s main antioxidant. It has many roles in anti-aging and immune health, as well as in detoxification. Its role is so critical that it’s quite possibly the secret to maintaining youth and wellness. Because of this major role in aging, having optimal levels is key for preventing chronic diseases that are often chalked up to “the normal aging process.”
THE GLUTATHIONE BASICS
Glutathione is an important part of the natural detoxification system for two reasons: it helps the body get rid of the bad stuff (toxic waste) and it recycles the good stuff (antioxidants). It also helps the immune system defend the body against infections and cancer. Optimal levels not only help keep you healthy but also positively effect mental and physical performance by increasing strength and endurance.
Deficiencies of glutathione are often seen in patients with chronic conditions such as chronic infections, autoimmune diseases, heart disease, liver disease and even cancer. Lower levels of glutathione get in the way of proper detoxification and elimination of wastes in the body, which could result in multiple chemical and food sensitivities, fatigue, pain, digestive issues, skin conditions and more. There are different tests that can be done to check your body’s levels, such as micronutrient testing or genetic testing to look at the function of genes that produce glutathione.
The problem lies in maintaining optimal levels in the midst of so much pollution and oxidative stress (from poor diet, stress, environmental toxins, medications, infections) which deplete glutathione levels.
Glutathione may help support the body’s ability to manage the oxidative stress of cells. It may also improve the activity of other antioxidants such as vitamins C & E.
Heart health support
Glutathione may help support a healthy cardiovascular system, especially with respect to healthy circulation and maintain a healthy cholesterol profile.
Glutathione may also help maintain various systems as you age, including the eyes and skin.
Immune health support
Studies show that adequate glutathione levels in the lymphoid cells help support the immune system to function at its best. Lymphoid cells produce antibodies that destroy cellular invaders such as bacteria and viruses.
Signs You May Need Glutathione
The body may not produce an adequate supply of glutathione under certain situations such as aging, poor diet, infections, radiation therapy, stress and trauma. Anyone experiencing these situations may benefit from glutathione supplements. Additional signs that indicate you may need glutathione include stress, poor immune function and heart health.
LIFESTYLE CHANGES TO INCREASE GLUTATHIONE LEVELS
2. Consuming sulfur-rich foods such as garlic and onions regularly; when making a stir fry throw in garlic and onions for added flavor and health benefits. Tip: chop your garlic and let it sit for about 15 minutes before cooking; this allows for the release of the enzyme that forms cysteine to be formed (which is a pre-cursor to glutathione!)
3. Consuming vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts and watercress regularly.
4. Increasing fiber intake to aid detoxification and lessen the liver’s toxic burden. Some great sources of fiber include apples with the skin, brown rice, artichokes, okra and flax seeds.
5. My favorite way to get everything in all at once: smoothies with a greens powder, dark berries, flax and chia seeds in a base of nut milk and protein of choice. This provides antioxidants, fiber, protein—all helpful in boosting glutathione and aiding detoxification.