Glutathione is known as the master antioxidant, and today we explore why. Learn ten of the top reasons why you should take glutathione, which foods are highest in glutathione building blocks, and which supplement is best.
What is Glutathione?
Glutathione is a compound that is produced naturally in the body that performs an anti-oxidant effect. It is so important it can actually be found inside every cell in your body 1. Glutathione is the second-most abundant molecule in the body, after water. Unfortunately, many people do not make enough to counteract the effects of stress, toxins, and pharmaceutical medications.
Many experts tout glutathione to be the most important molecule for those who want to stay healthy 2. This is because apart from fighting free radicals in the body, glutathione also binds to harmful chemicals like toxins and heavy metals, enabling your body to excrete them safely 3.
Ensuring you have enough nutritional building blocks to make glutathione is a good place to start, but in our stress-filled modern world, you may also want to incorporate a high-quality supplement.
Nine Reasons To Take Glutathione
1. Reduces Oxidative Stress
Free radicals are produced in the body and are generated naturally as a byproduct of normal metabolism or by exposure to external stress like pollution, cigarette smoke, radiation, and medication. Anti-oxidants help keep the balance, which is important because having too many free radicals in the body is associated with various diseases, including cancer, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis 4.
Although stress mitigation is a vital part of living a long and healthy life, the reality is that life is full of mental, physical, and emotional stressors. Ensuring that your body has ample glutathione is a great way to support your body while navigating the inevitable stresses of life.
2. Supports Skin Conditions
Glutathione has been shown to support healing from skin conditions including psoriasis 5. Excess free radicals in the body also cause premature aging of the skin, including pigmentation and wrinkles, so having enough glutathione in the body helps maintain youthful, vibrant-looking skin 6. Glutathione also reduces the dark spots, patches, and uneven skin tone by inhibiting the tyrosinase activity that leads to such skin discolorations 7.
3. Supports Liver Health
For good reasons, glutathione is well known as a liver-supporting supplement. Although this substance is found in every cell in the body, its concentrations are seven to 10 times higher in liver cells than anywhere else. That's because the tripeptide in glutathione plays an important role in the liver’s Phase II detoxification process 8.
It has been shown to mitigate and even reverse signs of fatty liver disease caused by alcohol and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease 9. This visceral fat is much more dangerous to human health than the kind of body fat that we can see with the naked eye. This kind of fat builds around organs (in this case, the liver) and can wreak havoc on your health in the long run. Studies show that fatty liver is associated with insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, dyslipidemia, hypertension, and diabetes 10.
4. Supports Neurological Health
Glutathione plays an important role in generating neurological wellbeing. Cystine is one of the key components of cysteine and protects against reactive oxygen species and potentially toxic compounds in the central nervous system 11.
Glutathione has also been linked to reducing symptoms of neurologically degenerative disorders like Parkinson’s. Although no “cure” for Parkinson’s is known to the medical science paradigm, studies show glutathione supplementation has positive effects on various Parkinson’s symptoms, including rigidity and tremors 12.
5. Promotes Detoxification
When people think of going on a seasonal detox, they often reach for green juices or elimination diets, but they should be thinking about optimizing their glutathione production instead. Glutathione is a vital part of the body’s detoxification process, not just when you want to go on a detox, but rather every single day of the year.
Glutathione prevents everyday toxins from building up in the body, including excess hormones, environmental pollutants, artificial chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and heavy metals. An enzyme called glutathione S-transferases binds glutathione to such toxins, enabling the body to excrete them safely 3.
6. Improves Insulin Resistance
It should be no surprise to you that insulin resistance is something worth addressing. Having poor blood sugar control affects our health in many ways, including the promotion of weight gain, mood swings, and cravings 13. Studies show that low glutathione levels are associated with poor insulin management in the body, especially with age, as glutathione production decreases.
7. Promotes Immune Health
Mitochondria are like the cellular powerhouse of your cells. When the body is under attack by a fungal, viral, or bacterial infection, this can lead to oxidative stress and chronic inflammation in the cells. By reducing oxidative stress, glutathione helps protect the body’s mitochondria and promotes a strong immune system 14.
8. Ameliorates Autism Symptoms
Individuals with autism are shown to have higher levels of oxidative stress in their brains than the average person. Supplementing with glutathione helps these individuals fight oxidative damage, which has been shown to improve various health markers, including toxins in the brain and associated symptoms 15.
9. Supports Bowl Health
Inflammation and oxidative stress has been linked to bowl diseases like ulcerative colitis. Animal studies demonstrate the positive impact that glutathione supplementation has on healing the colon 16.
10. Supports Longevity
Glutathione is so vital to overall health that it is now considered a longevity marker. A study of mice showed that glutathione supplementation increased their lifespan by 24% 17. Although no human studies have been completed yet, it’s not hard to see why glutathione would support a longer life considering its impact on a wide range of health factors like insulin, detox pathways, and neurological health.
The Best Glutathione-Building Foods
Although it can be taken orally, intravenously, or inhaled through supplementation, glutathione is also produced by the body when the right nutritional building block is available. Glutathione is comprised largely of the three amino acids glutamine, glycine, and cysteine. Unsurprisingly, glutathione-building foods are the ones that contain an abundance of these amino acids 3.
Other nutrients that support your endogenous production of glutathione include selenium, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamins B6, B9, B12, and biotin 3.
Some of the best foods to support your body’s endogenous production include:
- Cruciferous vegetables
- Egg yolks and chicken
- Whey protein
- Milk thistle
- Raw liver
Supplementing with Glutathione
Glutathione is depleted in the body by various factors, including stress and toxins, and it also naturally declines with age. As a result, it may be important to provide the body with nutritional building blocks and a supplement.
You can supplement with the building blocks (glutamine, glycine, and cysteine) and a whole-from glutathione supplement. It can be difficult to supplement as a whole glutathione product taken orally since it is not very bio-available if not delivered properly 18. To increase the bioavailability of oral glutathione, it’s important to invest in a bio-available form.
As the master anti-oxidant, glutathione is associated with the improvement of various health markers. For example, it plays a role in mitigating stress, detoxification, neurological health, liver and skin health, and improving insulin markers.
Although the body makes it endogenously, it needs the right building blocks to do so. Making sure you get enough of the glutamine, glycine, and cysteine amino-acid-containing foods is a great start, but in today’s modern stress-filled world, a high-quality liposomal glutathione supplement is also a good idea.
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