What is Glutathione?
Glutathione is a simple tripeptide that every cell in the body regularly produces. It is made of a combination of the amino acids cysteine, glycine and glutamine. You’re going to love learning about glutathione because it is now recognized as the body’s “master antioxidant.” In addition, its detoxifying capabilities are irreproachable and, as an anti-aging tool, it’s the ticket to better health and greater longevity. All these benefits occur … in a perfect world.
Unfortunately we don’t live in a perfect world. We’re routinely assaulted by 80,000 environmental toxic chemicals, electromagnetic radiation, and skies, rivers and oceans polluted with mercury and other heavy metals. All these things adversely affect the quantity and quality of glutathione’s benefits.
Glutathione’s Fabulous Benefits
High levels help to:
- Decrease muscle damage
- Increase strength and endurance
- Shift metabolism from fat production to muscle development
- Strengthen the immune system
- Fight inflammation
- Assist in making drugs and other toxic chemicals more water-soluble for easier excretion
- Maintain vitamins C and E in their reduced, active forms
- Slow down the aging process
These benefits are due to the following functions of glutathione:
Antioxidation: One of this tripepetide’s main roles is to recycle antioxidants. Antioxidants are nature’s antidote to oxidative stress, the accumulation of free radicals that underlies a vast number of diseases. Those nasty free radicals bounce around the body from vitamin C to vitamin E to lipoic acid and finally end up in glutathione which ”cools off” those free radicals and recycles other antioxidants. Glutathione and its related enzymes are the body’s most prolific antioxidants because, in addition to directly scavenging free radicals, they reactivate other antioxidants. Then the body regenerates another protective glutathione molecule and the antioxidation process continues.
Detoxification: The secret behind its power is the sulfur chemical groups it contains. Sulfur is a sticky, smelly molecule that acts like fly paper … all the bad things in the body stick to it such as free radicals, toxins like mercury and other heavy metals.
Unfortunately, most of us don’t have optimal levels of this important antioxidant. In fact some researchers claim there’s an epidemic deficiency of this critical life-giving molecule. A deficiency leads to:
- Increased oxidative stress
- Greatly reduced ability to detoxify, resulting in the accumulation of toxins and heavy metals
- Inability to repair DNA
- Cell mutations, weakened cell membranes
- Reduced supply of oxygen and nutrients to cells
- Eventual cell death
These processes directly affect the immune system and often become the main reason for the onset of disease. Low glutathione also means that the prescribed treatments for a disease, instead of helping, may actually worse the condition since drugs cause further decline in this antioxidant’s levels. Let’s see what else leads to its depletion.
Toxins, lifestyles and genetics all play a part in glutathione depletion.
Toxins. Toxins are ubiquitous in the modern world, both environmentally and in everyday households. Toxins that affect glutathione levels include:
- Acetaminophen (as in Tylenol) and other pharmaceuticals
- Acetone, solvents, paint removers, fuels and fuel by-products
- Pesticides, herbicides
- Benzopyrenes from tobacco smoke, barbecued foods, fuel exhaust
- Household products such as certain non-stick coatings of pans, plastic containers, plastic linings of cans and other food packaging
- Formaldehyde and styrene from photocopiers and toner printers
- Chlorine in treated water
- Medical X-rays
Lifestyles. Daily living in today’s world brings with it many opportunities for depleting glutathione levels, including:
- Poor Diet. This antioxidant has to work extra hard to cover for missing nutrients and antioxidants in a nutrient-poor diet that may include genetically-modified food, artificial sweeteners and some so-called “health foods.”
- Stress. Few can refute the troubles stress causes.
Genetics. One of the genes needed to create and recycle this tripeptide in the body is called GSTM1. The GSTM1 gene encodes glutathione S-transferase M1, an enzyme which has broad detoxifying abilities against carcinogens, drugs, or other toxins. It is one of the most important genes needed in the process of creating and recycling glutathione in the body. In the absence of this vital gene, glutathione can’t do its jobs.
How you can boost your glutathione levels
A diet rich in nutrients is the long-term action you can take. Eat glutathione-rich foods such as spinach, squash, avocado, asparagus and walnuts and exercise regularly to optimize the body’s own glutathione production over the long term.
Supplementation is another way to boost levels of this antioxidant. However, supplementation by pill or tablet is a useless waste of money because it is poorly absorbed in the digestive system. The only way to effectively deliver glutathione to the target tissues is by IV injections, which we offer at LivingYoung Center. We also offer a comprehensive Food Sensitivity Test which tests for levels of glutathione as well as many other vital nutrients.