Glutathione. The "Alpha" molecule.
In this blog post, I want to talk about glutathione. This is an amazing molecule that I feel everyone should be familiar with.
Our bodies use oxygen to make energy as ATP in special tiny structures within our cells called mitochondria. Think of mitochondria as tiny "factories" that produce ATP, the energy molecule of all life.
However, this process creates "free radicals" which can cause damage. To better conceptualize this, think about how apples go brown or how metal can get rusty.
Fortunately, glutathione is there to the rescue, helping to neutralize these "free radicals", and thereby allowing our mitochondria function at their prime.
Unfortunately, living in an industrialized society can lower glutathione levels in the body (more about this below). A lowered glutathione level may contribute to overall fatigue, since mitochondria function would consequently decrease.
Additionally, glutathione plays other roles. It is involved in immune system regulation, detoxification, and even in the prevention of intestinal inflammation. Yes, adequate glutathione levels are needed to prevent leaky gut! For more about leaky gut, see my blog post here.
Our modern industrial societies are convenient and thankfully provide the means and resources to support large populations. However, this comes with a cost. And that cost is toxicity. Our air, water, food, is very polluted. Just about everybody living on this planet now has substantial levels of toxic elements in them.
But do not panic. Our bodies are designed to handle many of these toxins by our detox pathways. However, some of these toxins cannot be dealt with efficiently. This is where glutathione comes into play. Heavy metals, such as mercury or nickel, cannot be effectively detoxified from the body. So glutathione will then be called upon to neutralize it. But continued exposure to these toxins, such as from our food, water, and even the air we breathe, will deplete the body's stores of glutathione. This is when problems start to occur, such as with gut health, metabolism, inflammation, etc.
In summary, a person in good health will be able to make enough glutathione in their cells to modulate the immune system and decrease inflammation. In contrast, a person suffering from an inflammatory disease is not able to make enough glutathione.
So how does one go about supporting glutathione levels in the body? Food is a great place to start. Stay tuned for my next blog post about using foods and also supplements to boost this magic molecule.