Glutathione - The "Alpha" Molecule Part 2
In my last blog post I talked about glutathione. It functions in your body as a powerful antioxidant and serves a crucial role in helping your body get rid of toxins. What you may not know is that it also plays many more important roles such as in immune system balance, energy production, and helps to maintain the health and vitality of your brain and gut.
Glutathione can even assist in weight loss and may slow the graying of your hair! Yes, for all you people that have a concern about how you look - which is most of us - keeping your glutathione at optimal levels can play a role here too. Glutathione helps neutralize hydrogen peroxide, produced by the body when under stress. Hydrogen peroxide can cause molecular damage, including damage to the cells that give pigment to hair. Also, having optimal glutathione levels helps to burn excess calories in our cellular energy factories, i.e. our mitochondria, for energy. When sufficient glutathione is not around, our mitochondria may not function as well, and these extra calories can get stored as fat instead, like around our belly.
And if anyone has a chronic health issue, such as diabetes or an autoimmune condition or inflammatory disorder like allergies, you can pretty much guarantee that levels of glutathione in your body are low or suboptimal. The natural process of aging also causes glutathione levels to decrease. So how do you raise your levels?
For glutathione to do its job, it has to get attached to the problem molecule, such as a toxin or hydrogen peroxide, via enzymes. These enzymes could be low due to genetics, or just from poor nutrition and lifestyle. Stress, an infection, a poor diet, and toxins can all cause depletions and biochemical mis-management of glutathione. And who is out there that does not deal with one or more of these issues?
Therefore, some enhanced strategies aimed at increasing glutathione and its utilization in the human body I feel is essential for anyone living in an industrialized society, even if you do not have a major illness.
So here are some nutritional ways to increase your glutathione:
1. Eat lots of strawberries. I love this recommendation, as strawberries are delicious. Try to get organic if possible, since they will have fewer pesticides and more nutritional value. Strawberries are one of the best plant sources of a powerful flavonoid, called fisetin. This molecule is powerful at reducing inflammation in the body, but it is also great at increasing intracellular levels of glutathione!
2. Get plenty of the core nutrients that help your body produce glutathione. Key ones are riboflavin (vitamin B2), cysteine, and selenium. Some top food sources include: mushrooms, meats such as lamb or turkey, spinach, asparagus, onions, brazil nuts, beef, brown rice, etc.
2. Be sure you have healthy "methylation". Folates from food (like from leafy greens) help the body process key biochemical reactions involved in methylation, that ultimately can aid in making more glutathione.
3. Eat lots of fiber, if tolerated! Fibers from food sources feed your good gut bacteria in your intestine, which then go onto help remove toxic molecules out of your body. This can free up your glutathione from toxin removal to other roles, such as an antioxidant. High fiber foods include: black beans, lima beans, lentils, oatmeal, raspberries, blackberries, chia seeds, avocados, flaxseed meal, peas, etc.
4. Have a daily smoothie that combines a lot of these foods. Lets face it, eating healthy is tough, especially with all the time pressure most of us have. If you happen to like smoothies, consider having a daily smoothie with berries, some banana, some avocado, and spike it with some fiber like chia seeds, oat bran, ground flax meal, etc.
5. Supplement with glutathione. I'm a big fan of glutathione supplements that are "liposomal". This allows them to be absorbed by the body intact, so the glutathione can be delivered to the cells and do its job. If the product is not liposomal, the glutathione molecule will be broken apart and rendered ineffective. I like to recommended a product by Apex Energetics, called "Trizomal Glutathione", a liposomal combination of actual glutathione and N-acetyl cysteine. I have been getting great results with my clients who have been using it, whether it be support for energy, brain endurance, and reductions in inflammation and immune balance.
6. Supplement with nutrients that help the body increase or recycle glutathione: some key nutrients include alpha lipoic acid, vitamin C, N-acetyl L-cysteine, milk thistle, gotu kola, and cordyceps.