Glutathione is often referred to as “the mother of all antioxidants,”. It is produced and used by every single cell in the human body and has a very wide range of scientifically-proven health effects.
Glutathione is the master antioxidant and detoxifier of every cell in your body.
Glutathione is a tripeptide composed of three amino acids: cysteine, glutaminic acid and glycine. Being the most important antioxidant produced by the body, it prevents cellular damage caused by free radicals and peroxides. Some of its antioxidant functions in the body include:
- Maintaining vitamins C and E in their reduced, active forms
- Tightly regulating the production of hydrogen peroxide
- Neutralizing lipid peroxides-breakdown products of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) found in our cell membranes
- Assisting in making drugs and other toxic chemicals more water-soluble for easier excretion
Proper glutathione levels in the body mean higher energy levels.
Increasing cellular glutathione can dramatically raise energy levels, strengthen the immune system, fight inflammation, improve athletic performance, detoxify the body, aid in cellular repair and slow down the aging process.
Glutathione deficiency occurs when your body is unable to produce enough glutathione to cover all the functions which this master antioxidant performs. Decreased glutathione levels are usually the result of a lifestyle that is characterized by the many factors that deplete glutathione.
Glutathione deficiency leads to:
- increased oxidative stress
- greatly reduced ability to detoxify
- accumulation of toxins and heavy metals
- inability to repair DNA
- cell mutations
- weakened cell membranes
- reduced supply of oxygen and nutrients to the cells
- eventual cell death
These processes directly affect the state of the immune system and often become the main cause of the onset of the disease, or its progression, severity, and response (or, rather, the lack of it) to treatments.
Environmental pollutants, pharmaceutical drugs and a poor lifestyle all lead to lower levels of glutathione. Lifestyle factors that deplete glutathione includes:
- Poor diet: Glutathione has to work hard to cover for missing or insufficient nutrients and antioxidants.
- Strenuous exercise: Though not a toxic substance it produces many free radicals in the body.
People who consider themselves to be in good health may not necessarily be glutathione deficient but may still have declining glutathione levels. The main reason for that is because glutathione production in cells declines naturally at an average rate of 10% per decade after age 20.
Ways to Increase Glutathione Levels
- Consume sulfur rich foods – Sulfur is important for producing glutathione. Therefore, make sure you’re eating sulfur-rich proteins such as beef, fish and poultry, as well as allium and cruciferous vegetables.
- Consume selenium rich foods – Selenium is a cofactor for the production of glutathione. Fish, organ meats, and Brazil nuts are all selenium-rich foods that may help increase your levels naturally.
- Take more Vitamin C – Vitamin C plays a vital role in maintaining glutathione levels. For this reason, taking vitamin C supplements may help increase glutathione levels in your body.
- Try supplements – Glutathione, Whey protein, milk thistle and turmeric extract may help boost glutathione levels.
- Get enough sleep – Chronic lack of sleep can cause a decrease in glutathione levels. Conversely, getting enough sleep on a regular basis can help increase or maintain your levels.
- Exercise – Regular physical activity, specifically cardio and weight training, may help increase glutathione levels. However, overtraining without a balanced diet and proper rest can deplete your levels.
- Avoid alcohol – Alcohol decreases glutathione levels throughout the body, especially in the lungs. People who regularly consume excessive amounts of alcohol can have an 80–90% decrease in lung glutathione.