Glutathione (pronounced glue-ta-thigh-own) has been described by Dr Mark Hyman MD (The Ultrawellness Center) as “The Mother of All Antioxidants” and is a very hot topic now in both pharmaceutical medicine and the natural health world.
But what is Glutathione and what does it do?
Glutathione (GSH) is a naturally created protein consisting of three key amino acids that our body produces in every single cell – cysteine, glycine and glutamine. The highest levels of GSH are found in your heart, muscle tissues and the liver.
GSH is key to helping neutralise and remove toxins. It binds with toxins to form a water- soluble matter that can be excreted through the liver. It is especially good at holding hands with heavy metals to assist in neutralising and removing them from the body
GSH also keeps the immune system at optimum levels and kills invading organisms. A large range of health conditions are now associated with low levels of glutathione.
Low GSH levels have been connected to:
- Immune compromised individuals
- Neuro-degenerative diseases such as multiple sclerosis, alzheimers, ALS and parkinsons
- Male infertility
- Pregnancy complications
- Damage from prescription drugs
- Those with cancer
- Those with AIDS
Additionally, GSH also protects cells from free radicals that cause oxidation damage and ageing through DNA cell damage. GSH is very good at restoring antioxidants like vitamins C and E, recycling them and setting them free to continue their good work in the body.
Even if you are in good health, while you may not necessarily be glutathione deficient you may still have declining glutathione levels. The main reason for that is age, because glutathione production in cells declines naturally at an average rate of 10% per decade after the age of 20. We are also more prone to declining GSH due to our increasing day-to-day exposure to the items below:
- Ongoing infections and sickness
- Chronic stress
- Injuries or recovery from surgery
- Environmental toxins and pollution
- Genetically modified foods
- Artificial sweeteners
- The overuse of antibiotics
- Higher levels of radiation therapy and X rays
- Pesticides and herbicides and cleaning chemicals in household products (Laundry powders, dishwashing powders, air fresheners, mothballs, bleach)
- Nitrates and other food preservatives (especially food like salami, hams or other smoked and cured meats)
- Alcohol consumption
- Poor diet
- Light pollution (Bedside lights, light from mobile phones and street lights suppress melatonin production at night)
Symptoms of glutathione deficiency may include:
- Brain fogginess
- Weakness, lack of energy and tiredness
- Joint pain
- Rashes, dry skin
- Trouble sleeping
- Depression and low moods
- Frequent colds and infections
- More serious health conditions
Your natural production of GSH can be boosted if you regularly eat the following foods:
- Sulphur rich, cancer fighting cruciferous vegetables including broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, watercress, radish and turnips.
- Folate rich foods like chickpeas, pinto beans, lentils, spinach, asparagus, black eyed peas, avocado and beetroots
- Selenium rich foods which are powerful anti-oxidants – Brazil nuts, yellow fin tuna, sardines, grass fed beef and turkey, eggs, chicken and spinach.
- The inclusion of gentle exercise as part of your regular daily and weekly routine also helps your body replenish its production of GSH.
If you are healthy you may not necessarily notice a change if you boost your glutathione levels, but you may gradually notice improvement in your energy, improved sleep and see fewer seasonal maladies. If you are doing athletic workouts or training, you may also see faster recovery times and less soreness in your muscles.1
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1 The Effect Of Supplementation With A Cysteine Donor On Muscular Performance. Lands LC, J Appl Physiol.Oct;87(4) :1381-5 (1999).