Many experts refer to glut (pronounced “gloota-thigh-own”) as, “the most important molecule we need to stay healthy and prevent aging, cancer, heart disease, dementia and more, and necessary to treat everything from autism to Alzheimer’s disease.”1 Yet most of us, have never heard of it.
Glutathione is the MOTHER of all antioxidants. An antioxidant is a substance that removes potentially damaging oxidizing agents in a living organism, that is to say, it fights the bad guys within the body and plays a primary role in the protection of all cells from daily metabolic stress, and toxic chemicals. Glutathione is critical for one simple reason -it recycles antioxidants.
In our previous blog, “Why Is Glutathione So Vital” we discussed the pivotal role glutathione plays in our overall health. (In case you haven’t seen part 1, click here to read to it now…)
Focus On A Diet Rich In Colourful Fruits And Vegetables
I’m a big fan of having our needs met through our diet. That said, this involves sourcing organic foods (high in nutrition and free of pesticides) where-ever possible. Organic fruits and vegetables and their rich source of antioxidant phytochemicals and nutrients spare the use of glutathione and help to keep cellular levels high. At times, it is not feasible or possible to purchase organic produce and food items and that is when the following steps become even more important.
Focus On Sulfur-Rich Foods
Sulfur is an important mineral that occurs naturally in some plant and protein foods and is required for the synthesis of glutathione.
A number of human and animal studies have found that eating sulfur-rich vegetables may reduce oxidative stress by increasing glutathione levels5.
- Onions and garlic
- Vegetables such as broccoli, kale, collards, cabbage, cauliflower, watercress, asparagus, and parsley
- Poultry, beef, and fish
- Egg yolks
- Cinnamon, cardamom, and curcumin also offer benefits.
- Non-denatured bioactive whey protein (not tolerated in all people)
I am not a fan of dairy, but bioactive whey protein is a source of cysteine and the amino acid building blocks for glutathione synthesis. If this appeals to you then please ensure that you are getting the good stuff! Choose organic, non-pasteurized and non-industrially produced milk that contains no pesticides, hormones, or antibiotics creating a whey protein that is bioactive and made from non-denatured proteins (“denaturing” refers to the breakdown of the normal protein structure).
Exercise boosts your glutathione levels and thereby helps boost your immune system, improve detoxification and enhance your body’s own antioxidant defenses. Regular physical activity, specifically cardio and weight training, seems to help increase glutathione levels. Completing a combination of both cardio and circuit weight training increases glutathione the most, compared to completing cardio or weight training alone.6
An overly aggressive exercise program right out of the gate can do more harm than good and inadvertently facilitate the production of those health-harming free radicals – so, don’t over-do it! Overtraining without a balanced diet and proper rest can deplete your levels.7
Eat Foods High In Glutathione
Dietary glutathione tends to be poorly absorbed by the human body. Additionally, cooking and storage conditions can decrease the amount of glutathione found in food. Despite not being able to massively increase our glutathione levels, glutathione-rich foods may help decrease oxidative stress. Dietary sources of glutathione include spinach, avocados, asparagus, and okra.
Check-In On Your Liver
Glutathione is the single most powerful antioxidant your body produces and recycles. It’s made in the liver, the organ most responsible for detoxifying your body, so optimal liver function is absolutely essential. If your liver isn’t functioning well, glutathione production suffers, toxins overwhelm it and illness, both short term and long, are not far behind. Let’s not talk hormones here, but when the liver is overloaded it can’t make time to recylce and regulate hormones in the way we need and for both men and women they can get out of whack predisposing us to all sorts of things.
In our modern world it makes sense to support our liver regularly, here’s my favourite supplement for loving up this precious organ, Seeking Health’s liver-nutrients*.
Watch Your Toxic Load
One of the simplest ways to boost your glutathione levels is to decrease your intake of toxins! Be that via the creams and sprays you use on your skin and hair, toxins in the water you drink or the food you eat, even the air you breathe. The more conscious we become of how we take on toxins the more we can minimise this process and preserve our glutathione levels.
Easy ways to cut down exposure include: buying organic foods where possible, filtering your water; using gentler organic or homemade, natural cleaning products; reducing the use of personal care products; switching to glass for food storage and reheating.
Alcohol is one toxin we can easily minimise and it’s no surprise that adverse health effects are associated with chronic and excessive alcohol intake. People who regularly consume excessive amounts of alcohol can have an 80–90% decrease in lung glutathione.8
Wrangle Your Stress
Unmanaged, chronic stress depletes glutathione. Commit to keeping your stress levels under control! Take stress down a few notches with calming practices like meditation, mindfulness exercises, restorative yoga or tai chi.
Get Enough Sleep
It seems that chronic lack of sleep can cause a decrease in glutathione levels. While getting enough sleep on a regular basis can help increase or maintain your levels.
A study measuring glutathione levels in 30 healthy people and 30 people with insomnia found that glutathione peroxidase activity was significantly lower in those with insomnia.9 Multiple animal studies have also shown that sleep deprivation causes a decrease in glutathione levels.10
Get Your Vitamin C
Vitamin C plays a vital role in maintaining glutathione levels. For this reason, eating foods high in vitamin C or taking vitamin C supplements may help increase glutathione levels in your body.
Get Your Selenium.
Selenium important mineral helps the body recycle and produce more glutathione.
Your body relies on selenium, an important mineral, for many of its basic functions, from reproduction to fighting infection. The amount of selenium in different foods depends on the amount of selenium in the soil where the food was grown. Rain, evaporation, pesticides, and pH levels can all affect selenium levels in the soil.
Brazil nuts are your best source of selenium followed by beef, chicken, fish, organ meats, cottage cheese, and brown rice.
Supplements Or Supporting Supplements
To achieve optimal levels of glutathione, I also recommend supplementation.
Glutathione is created in the body from glutamic acid, cysteine, and glycine. Taking these amino acids can help the body naturally produce more, but the following products are my preferred supporting supplements because the production and recycling of glutathione in the body, requires many different nutrients.
Glutathione itself as a supplement is thought to be safe for all adults, tests have not been done however on pregnant women to claim safety in pregnancy. Speak to your health care provider about appropriateness in pregnancy otherwise focus on food sources of glutathione and supporting supplements that help manufacture glutathione.
I take the following supplements a few times a week either glutathione* or NAC*. I ramp it up when I’m flying and traveling a lot. Also when I have a heavy work load and am not getting enough sleep or exercise. This Optimal Liposomal Glutathione uses a unique liposomal delivery method to support optimal absorption of this reduced glutathione and help to protect the fragile molecule through the digestive tract. A liposome is a tiny phospholipid* vesicle that mimics the body’s own cell structure. Liposomes may be better absorbed across cell membranes in a way that is not possible for ordinary water-soluble or fat-soluble nutrients.
NAC supports the health of the liver, brain, lungs, and other body tissues. Many of the beneficial actions of NAC are related to its role in supporting normal production of glutathione*. I like NAC which may help support and maintain healthy brain and nerve cells. NAC’s relation to the body’s antioxidant system suggests that it may play a role in protecting against oxidative damage to neurons, the specialized cells found in the nervous system that are vital to maintaining memory and cognitive function. NAC supports antioxidant activity by helping to produce intracellular glutathione, and adequate levels of glutathione are crucial for healthy function of the liver, nerve cells, brain, pancreas, and lungs.
Metylation nutrients (folate and vitamins B6 and B12).
Methylation and the production and recycling of glutathione are the two most important biochemical functions in your body. Methylation nutrients are perhaps the most critical to keep the body producing glutathione. WE have a series of blogs coming on this topic and how to identify if you have a methylation issue. Consider taking folate (especially in the active form of 5 methyltetrahydrofolate), B6 (in the active form of 5P) and B12 (in the active form of methylcobalamin). I love Ben Lynchs products Active B12 with L-5-MTHF*
Milk Thistle (Silymarin).
Milk Thistle has long been used in liver disease and helps boost glutathione levels. I love sourcing my Milk Thistle as a tea*.
Numerous animal and test-tube studies have shown that turmeric and curcumin extract has the ability to increase glutathione levels.11 Researchers conclude that the curcumin found in turmeric may assist in restoring adequate levels of glutathione and improve the activity of glutathione enzymes.
To experience an increase in glutathione levels, you would need to take turmeric extract, as it would be extremely difficult to consume the same levels of curcumin with turmeric spice.
All Said And Done
Here’s the main take home:
Glutathione is a super important antioxidant that neutralizes and clears heavy metals and toxins from the body. Protects our DNA from damage, tampers down inflammation and helps fend off heart disease, cancer, neurological decline, dementia and many more of the debilitating diseases. It maintains optimal immunity and keeps our mitochondria pumping. It’s therefore incredibly important we maintain our glutathione levels.
If we are mindful, there are ways as outlined, that we can maintain and boost our glutathione levels through diet, lifestyle habits, and supplementation.
We hope you’ve found this article useful in securing your health.
Dr Jennifer Barham-Floreani
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