We’ve all heard about the benefits of antioxidants. We know that things like berries, red wine and dark chocolate are full of them too, but you’ve probably never heard about glutathione. Glutathione is a super antioxidant and an anti-inflammatory agent. It is touted as the most important molecule by experts like Dr. Mark Hyman, M.D. It has also been called the “Great Protector” and the “Super-hero of Antioxidants”.
As their name suggests, antioxidants protect cells against oxidative stress. If cells are protected from oxidative stress, cellular inflammation is also mitigated. Oxidation is the negative effect of oxygen. Oxygen is necessary for life, but as with everything in life, there is a tradeoff. Oxidation occurs in many forms, such as the browning of an apple when it is cut open or rust on metal. Oxidation is a form of corrosion, so antioxidants can be thought of as a form of corrosion control.
Glutathione is a tripeptide made of 3 amino acids – glutamine, glycine and cysteine. Over 100,000 citations on PubMed have been made on glutathione and research continues worldwide!
Cellular glutathione levels are a good predictor of life expectancy. If cells do not have adequate levels of glutathione, oxygen metabolism in mitochondria produces too many free radicals. Free radicals are the toxic byproducts resulting from oxygen metabolism. They decrease the cells efficiency and cause them to die. Many studies have shown that oxidative stress increases with age. This then leads to degenerative diseases.
This molecule helps to fight premature aging, dementia, cancer and heart disease. It helps to prevent glaucoma and cataracts. It protects against neurodegeneration and has proven to be necessary in treating Alzheimer’s, autism and AIDS. It also boosts the body’s overall performance. Glutathione is a good detoxifier, so it supports liver function. It is very important in the regeneration of other antioxidants like vitamins C and E. Glutathione protects against EMF radiation and helps with chronic respiratory conditions and fertility issues. The list of amazing “super powers” this molecule has is never ending!
Sadly, up to 1/3 of the population presently suffers from some form of chronic disease. External toxins and cellular inflammation are the common factors in all chronic disease. Watch my webinar on toxins here. Another common factor in people suffering from chronic disease is glutathione deficiency. Glutathione deficiency increases oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is a precursor to many diseases including cancer. Glutathione levels have been shown to decrease naturally with age. Poor diet and poor lifestyle choices, such as smoking will further reduce glutathione levels. Production of this molecule can also be reduced by insomnia. As I am sure you know, sleep is important. Both play a major role in immune function.
Glutathione boosting foods
Under normal conditions, glutathione supports the body’s natural ability to detoxify and heal itself. The best part is that the human body naturally produces and recycles this molecule! Unfortunately, most people nowadays are deficient in glutathione. The human body cannot create enough of it on its own to keep up with the onslaught of toxins in our environment. These toxins come from many sources such as air pollution. Nutrient deficient diets and high stress sedentary lifestyles contribute to this depletion.
The good news is that there are ways to boost your body’s glutathione levels. Glutathione can be taken in supplement form via pills or liquid. It can be applied topically, it can be inhaled, and it can be administered through an IV in severe cases. It is found naturally in many foods. These foods include freshly picked raw vegetables like avocado, asparagus, watercress, garlic and onions. As with all nutrients, the less processed (or cooked) the better. It is also found in eggs, fish, lean grass-fed meats, legumes, nuts, flaxseed, milk thistle, and guso seaweed. Regular exercise also helps the body boost glutathione production.
Cruciferous vegetables (which are in the Brassica family) such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and brussels sprouts, contain Sulphur molecules. Foods that are high in Sulphur molecules help to boost the body’s natural production of glutathione.
A diet rich in glutathione boosting foods will not cause any adverse side effects, but supplements may not be right for everyone. The necessity for glutathione supplementation is required for people who have the genetic disorder that affects their body’s ability to produce this molecule. There are tests available to determine if you are deficient or if you are lacking the gene that codes for glutathione production.
Symptoms of glutathione deficiency include anemia, metabolic acidosis (a buildup of too much acid in the body), frequent infections and problems with the brain such as seizures, impaired intellect, and loss of coordination. For more detailed information on this, click this link.
Glutathione as a detoxifier
We live in a toxic world… Glutathione is a critical part of the detoxification process. Due to the toxin overload from pollutants, pharmaceutical drugs, EMF’s and carcinogens, it is important to support the body’s production of glutathione. Almost half of the population has a very limited capacity to detox efficiently. This is partly because they are missing a gene that codes for the production of glutathione. Luckily, there are many things that can be utilized to support glutathione levels.
Some of these things include the use of NAC (N-Acetyl-Cysteine), ALA (Alpha-Lipoic Acid), vitamin B12, methyl-folate, vitamin B6, selenium and milk thistle together. This strengthens detox pathways and keeps the liver healthy and capable of doing its job. This then boosts the immune system. N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC) is a supplement form of cysteine. Consuming adequate amounts of cysteine is important for a variety of health reasons including replenishing the most powerful antioxidant in your body.
Alpha-Lipoic Acid (ALA) is an organosulfur compound derived from caprylic acid. ALA is produced by animals naturally. It is essential for aerobic metabolism. ALA is also found in foods such as cruciferous vegetables, as well as carrots and potatoes. As we discussed above, Sulphur molecules help to support glutathione production.
Glutathione is a virtually unparalleled detoxifier. It not only binds to toxins, but heavy metals as well. It transforms these toxins into compounds that can be removed through feces, bile and urine. Once the toxins are bound by glutathione, they become water-soluble. This allows them to be transported out of the body’s cells. Glutathione also helps to mitigate the symptoms of a Herxheimer reaction during detoxification.
Detoxification is crucial for optimal health. The binding of these toxins to glutathione molecules is taxing on the body’s glutathione stores. It creates a large demand on the body to make new glutathione. If glutathione production is not supported, deficiency will result. The liver is the main organ in the detoxification process. It harbors the largest stores of glutathione. Therefore, it plays a major role in the body’s ability to remove environmental pollutants, radiation, drugs, carcinogenic chemicals and heavy metals.
Glutathione supports peak physical performance by reducing muscle damage and recovery time. It increases strength and endurance. It also helps to shift the body’s metabolism into high gear by converting fat into lean muscles. This is good news for very active individuals!
Glutathione and EMF (electromagnetic frequency) radiation
In the past decade or so there has been a dramatic rise in the use of cell phones, wi-fi and a myriad of other devices. This has sparked concerns about the potentially harmful effects of EMF radiation on human physiology. There is no getting around the fact that most people and their children spend most of their time exposed to EMF’s. These frequencies are generated by wireless networks that are all around us all the time. They are in schools, in offices, in our homes and in restaurants. They are radiating from cell phone towers in every town and city.
Human beings are bioelectrical systems. Internal bioelectrical signals regulate our hearts and our brains. The bombardment of EMF radiation on us and all living things has become the largest health experiment the world has ever seen. With the promised roll-out of 5G, radiation accumulation will only increase.
The full effects of long-term exposure are yet to be seen, although we have begun to see some negative impacts on the human body through oxidative stress on cells. Some people are more sensitive to these frequencies than others. Some people experience headaches, nausea, dizziness, anxiety and sleeplessness. Some people don’t experience any physical effects at all.
Currently, EMF radiation is not going anywhere. If anything, it will continue to increase. It is important to take precautions to limit exposure. There are things that can be done to limit our exposure. These include disabling our wireless modems and connecting to the internet directly through the router with an ethernet cable, replacing cordless phones with corded ones, adapting tablets to ethernet instead of wi-fi and limiting cell phone use and proximity. These actions may seem counter intuitive in our digital society. They may even be an inconvenience at first. Keep in mind that your health is far more important than convenience in the long run.
It is equally important to provide our cells with added nutrients and antioxidants on a continuous basis. This will encourage cellular recovery as much as possible. Glutathione and glutathione boosting foods play an important role here. The human mind is easily retrainable. These proactive decisions will return tangible results in the form of peak physical and mental function.
The Downward Spiral
As humans evolved over time, we did not need extremely high levels of glutathione. The basic amount that was encrypted in our DNA was enough to do the job. As we humans began to pollute ourselves and our environment, it became more difficult for our body’s natural detox system to keep up with the toxicity load. Lowered glutathione levels lead to more susceptibility to toxins. This leads to further decreased levels.
These even lower levels mean decreased ability to recycle and reuse antioxidants. Lower levels increase the demand on the liver to remove toxins. Higher demand on the liver means a higher need for replenishment of nutrients that will boost glutathione levels. Nutrient deficient diets and sedentary lifestyles means further depletion of levels.
Constant exposure to radiation from electromagnetic frequencies, as well as other things, causes damage to our DNA. The chronically ill will likely be on many different medications. These will further compound the problem of toxin overload. In order to repair the damage to DNA and cells, the body requires better nutrition and higher glutathione levels. This, in turn, will decrease the need for many medications.
As you can see, this is a downward spiral. The best way to prevent this is to embrace a healthy lifestyle. I admit, this is getting more and more difficult every day, but there are proactive things you can do now to protect yourself. Once you have become chronically ill, it is very hard to get your system up and running the way it should. In the worst cases, it could take many years of discipline and hard work, but it is completely possible.
If this is you and you feel like there is no hope of ever feeling better, I want you to know that there are small things that can make a huge difference. Start by drinking more water and changing your diet. Start removing refined sugar and empty calories. If you can’t afford to eat a full organic diet, at least avoid the produce on the dirty dozen list. See the link for more information.
Turn your wi-fi off at night. The body recovers the most during sleep. Read before bed, but not from a device. This will help you to sleep better. Take a short walk at least once per day and don’t eat after 7pm. Meditate or practice deep breathing and stretch. Anything to decrease stress will help significantly. These are small things, but they will help you to build self-discipline. Once you start to feel the changes, increase the things you’re doing until you reach your goal of optimal health. Most importantly, don’t give up!
Best of Health,
Daniel Lonquist, DC, CCST, CCWP