Greetings friends. Today I am writing more about antioxidants and free radical damage as these are some of the main reasons for poor well being I see in people. After many questions from clients relating to diet and the proper intake of protein and it’s role in proper well being, today’s focus is on Glutathione. I am going to inform you on what it is, how it is formed and what it is useful for. This substance is possibly one of THE most important to have functioning well in your body. Given that most people are living very busy lives, are stressed, are increasingly using pharmaceutical drugs, are prone to poor dietary choices and lifestyle habits and the free radical damage that this creates in the body, it is very important that you understand more about Glutathione and the role it plays in maintaining well being and optimum health.
What is Glutathione? How is it formed?
Glutathione (or GSH) is the body’s own master antioxidant discovered way back in 1889. However, it was only about 30 years ago that the scientists began to understand its functions and discovered how to raise its levels. GSH is a small protein molecule composed of 3 amino acids: cysteine, glutamate, and glycine called GSH precursors or building blocks. These are termed “non- essential” amino acids and are found in most plentiful supply in complete proteins and incomplete proteins as far as dietary sources go. Glutathione synthesis involves two closely linked, enzymatically-controlled reactions that utilize ATP (Adenosine Tri-Phosphate). First, cysteine and glutamate are combined by gamma-glutamyl cysteinyl synthetase. Second, GSH synthetase combines gamma-glutamylcysteine with glycine to generate Glutathione. As Glutathione levels rise, they self-limit further GSH synthesis; otherwise, cysteine availability is usually rate-limiting. Fasting, protein-energy malnutrition, or other dietary amino acid deficiencies limit Glutathione synthesis. In laymans terms; it’s made from proteins. You need to ensure you are consuming enough complete proteins in your diet so your body can manufacture Glutathione.
So What is Complete Protein and an Incomplete Protein?
To help you understand further, here is a brief run down on proteins. Proteins are where the raw ingredients for Glutathione production are obtained. It is important to know that in order to remove free radicals from your body and maintain well being, you need to consume adequate amounts of complete proteins to ensure you are getting the amino acids required for this process in the body.
A complete protein contains an adequate amount of all of the essential amino acids that should be incorporated into a diet. Some protein contains all the amino acids needed to build new proteins, which generally come from animal and fish products. A complete protein must not lack even one essential amino acid in order to be considered complete.
The following foods are examples of complete proteins, which need not be combined with any other food to provide adequate protein:
An incomplete protein is any protein that lacks one or more essential amino acids in correct proportions. These can also be referred to as partial proteins. Even if the protein contains all the essential amino acids, they must be in equal proportions in order to be considered complete. If not, the protein is considered incomplete.
The following foods are examples of incomplete proteins:
VEGANS & VEGETARIANS PAY ATTENTION – Combining Incomplete Proteins to Create Complete Proteins
By combining foods from two or more incomplete proteins, a complete protein can be created. The amino acids that may be missing from one type of food can be compensated by adding a protein that contains that missing amino acid. When eaten in combination at the same meal, you are providing your body with all the essential amino acids it requires. These are considered complementary proteins when they are combined to compensate for each other’s lack of amino acids.
Samples of Complementary Proteins
Examples of combined complementary proteins to create a complete protein in one meal include:
- Grains with Legumes – sample meal: lentils and rice with yellow peppers.
- Nuts with Legumes – sample meal: black bean and peanut salad.
- Grains with Dairy – sample meal: white cheddar and whole wheat pasta.
- Dairy with Seeds – sample meal: yogurt mixed with sesame and flax seeds.
- Legumes with Seeds – sample meal: spinach salad with sesame seed and almond salad dressing.
By learning what foods complement each other, it is possible to create a perfectly balanced meal with the proper proportions of proteins. This will ensure that your body is getting all the essential amino acids it requires for optimal bodily functions.
Why is Glutathione Important?
The immune system and detoxification system cannot function without GSH. In his book “Glutathione. Your body’s most powerful protector” Dr. Jimmy Gutman says “Glutathione modulation is an essential part of staying young, active and healthy.” He also states – “By keeping our intracellular GSH levels up we also keep our immune system on the ball and fully armed”. In the immune system the protective activity of GSH is two-fold – it enhances the activity of immune cells and also functions as an antioxidant within them.
GSH has been clinically researched and proven to optimize your immune system, maximize the function of antioxidants, support your detoxification process at the cellular level, increase your energy levels and increase your strength and endurance.
As of April 2012, Pubmed.gov (the U.S. government’s depository for research articles in medical and biomedical fields) lists 100,775 medical articles mentioning GSH. This is a tremendous amount of research and energy that the medical and health professions has put into understanding the role of GSH in our lives. Optimizing your GSH levels benefits everyone, from children to those in their golden years, from the infirm to the elite athlete.
To be more specific about the articles that have been researched to date; raising GSH level has been CLINICALLY PROVEN to be beneficial for people afflicted with: AIDS, Alzheimer’s, asthma, burns, all CANCERS, cataracts, chronic fatigue syndrome, diabetes, autoimmune disorders, diseases of liver, kidneys, lungs, heart, and digestive system, flu, fibromyalgia, glaucoma (open angle only, closed angle not effected), hepatitis, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, physical trauma, skin disorders, seizures, tumors, and more. To state something is beneficial to your health is one thing but to prove it clinically is to give it validity. Do not underappreciate the profound meaning of this statement – raising your GSH level is CLINICALLY PROVEN TO BE BENEFICIAL for a very wide array of health concerns.
What Does Glutathione Do In Our Bodies Then?
- Antioxidant – GSH is the body’s master Antioxidant, our bodies depend on GSH for the removal of toxins and GSH is at the heart of all immune functions. Other antioxidants in our body depend on GSH to function properly.
- Detoxification – GSH detoxifies a large number of pollutants by binding to carcinogens, heavy metals, herbicides, pesticides and radiation by forming a soluble compound with the toxin that can then be excreted through the urine or bile.
- Immune system – Healthy growth and activity of immune cells depends on the availability of GSH. The protective activity of GSH is two-fold – it enhances the activity of immune cells and also functions as an antioxidant within them.
- Increased Energy – Our energy levels are a result of many factors – everything from the biochemical reactions taking place within our cells, to muscle function and even your sense of well-being. GSH enables the mitochondria of a cell to remain fully charged, enhancing muscle strength and endurance. Clinical trials have shown that lowering GSH in the mitochondria results in cell death.
- Repair – Our body is constantly under attack from free radicals, some from external sources and some generated in our own body. Free radicals attack the nearest stable molecule, “stealing” its electron. A molecule that loses an electron then becomes a free radical itself and attacks the next nearest stable molecule, this begins a chain reaction. Once the reaction is started it can cascade through hundreds of molecules. As this occurs over and over again the cell eventually dies or mutates. Sometimes the mutated cell mutates to a point that we know as cancer. GSH performs a vital role in repairing the damaged DNA by replacing the missing electron. Normal to elevated GSH keeps the repair of our cells at a maximum and reduces the number of cell mutations that would occur otherwise.
- GSH is at the heart of all immune functions and low GSH levels are seen in many diseases such as AIDS, advanced diabetes, and cancers. Raising and maintaining GSH levels can help minimize the risk of diseases.
What Depletes Glutathione in Our Bodies?
What depletes glutathione (GSH) levels in our bodies can be put into two categories – internal and external factors.
Internal factors include the increasing need for glutathione as an important part of various processes in our bodies, such as, food for our immune system, recycling of vitamin C, vitamin E and alpha lipoic acid, repairing our DNA, and protecting our cells from oxidative stress to mention a few.
Many external factors is what depletes glutathione the most. Many toxic and harmful substances that we are exposed to on a daily basis require considerable amounts of glutathione for detoxification.
Some of these substances are listed below:
- acetaminophen (Tylenol) and other pharmaceuticals;
- acetone, solvents, paint removers;
- fuels and fuel by-products;
- heavy metals (mercury (dental amalgams, vaccines, tattoes), lead, cadmium, copper, etc.);
- pesticides, herbicides;
- nitrates and other food preservatives of chemical origin (in salami, hot dogs, hams, bologna, smoked foods, etc.);
- artificial sweetener aspartame;
- synthetic food dyes;
- benzopyrenes (tobacco smoke, barbequed foods, fuel exhaust, etc.);
- household chemicals (synthetically scented and colored detergents and fabric softeners, air fresheners, mothballs, mildew removers, cleaners and bleach, lawn and plant fertilizers, etc.);
- housewares chemicals (non-stick coating of pans and skillets, plastic containers and linings of tin cans and other food packaging);
- formaldehyde and styrene (photocopiers and toner printers);
- chlorine in treated water;
- medical X-rays;
- UV radiation;
- electromagnetic fields (EMF);
- industrial pollutants
- poor diet – in this case glutathione has to work hard to cover for missing or insufficient antioxidants, and the lack of glutathione cofactor vitamins and minerals impairs glutathione synthesis and proper functioning;
- strenuous exercise – though not a toxic substance but produces a lot of free radicals within the body;
- chronic stress;
- light pollution which lowers glutathione levels by suppressing melatonin production at night (bedside night lights, street lights);
- age – after the age of 20 natural glutathione production decreases at the rate of 10% per decade on average in healthy adults.
This list of what depletes glutathione in your body, though incomplete, is quite remarkable.We cannot completely avoid all of these substances. But we can minimize our exposure in most instances by making simple changes to our daily habits.
How To Get More Glutathione in Our Bodies?
The primary way to get more Glutathione is to support your diet by consuming foods rich in the nutrients that contain the amino acids needed and the other supporting nutrients for Glutathione production. You can also make use of dietary supplements in this instance also to further support and increase Glutathione levels and you can also take Glutathione orally.
10 Tips to Optimize your Glutathione Levels
These 9 tips will help you improve your glutathione levels, improve your health, optimize your performance and live a long, healthy life.
Eat Foods that Support Glutathione Production
1. Liposomal (lipoceutical) glutathione – this form of oral glutathione differs from GSH in pill form. In this case GSH molecule is encapsulated in water inside a fat ball that is so small that it cannot be seen with a naked eye. The digestive system is “tricked” into interpreting it as a fat cell and does not digest and break it down as it would do with GSH pills, thus allowing it to enter the bloodstream. There are studies on cell culture (in a tube) and rodents proving that liposomal glutathione is in fact effective in maintaining GSH levels under the conditions of exposure to dangerous toxins or induced disease.
2. Consume sulfur-rich foods. The main ones in the diet are garlic, onions and the cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, kale, collards, cabbage, cauliflower, watercress, etc.).
3. Try bioactive protein. This is great source of cysteine and the amino acid building blocks for glutathione synthesis. Inca Inchi Protein is my favoured sources. If you are able to tolerate dairy, try bioactive whey protein.
Exercise for Your Way to More Glutathione
4. Exercise boosts your glutathione levels and thereby helps boost your immune system, improve detoxification and enhance your body’s own antioxidant defenses. Start slow and build up to 30 minutes a day of vigorous aerobic exercise like walking or jogging, or play various sports. Strength training for 20 minutes 3 times a week is also helpful.
Take Glutathione Supporting Supplements
The production and recycling of glutathione in the body requires many different nutrients and you can take these. Here are the main supplements that need to be taken consistently to boost glutathione. .
5. N-acetyl-cysteine. The precursors to Glutathione hold a great deal of power as well, beyond improving Glutathione production within the cells. N Acetyl Cysteine helps rid the body of harmful free radicals and peroxides, these substances build up naturally as we age. Our bodies become far less equipped to slow the process of aging because of the severe decline in production of certain key antioxidants, such as NAC and Glutathione.
7. Alpha lipoic acid. This is a close second to glutathione in importance in our cells and is involved in energy production, blood sugar control, brain health and detoxification. The body usually makes it, but given all the stresses we are under, we often become depleted.
6. Methylation nutrients (folate and vitamins B6 and B12). These are perhaps the most critical to keep the body producing glutathione. Methylation and the production and recycling of glutathione are the two most important biochemical functions in your body. Take folate (especially in the active form of 5 methyltetrahydrofolate), B6 (in active form of P5P) and B12 (in the active form of methylcobalamin).
8. Selenium. This important mineral helps the body recycle and produce more glutathione.
9. A family of antioxidants including vitamins C and E (in the form of mixed tocopherols), work together to recycle glutathione.
10. Milk thistle (silymarin) has long been used in liver disease and helps boost glutathione levels.
So use these 10 tips and see how they work to help you optimize your glutathione levels. When you do, you will take one more step to lifelong vibrant health. Glutathione is a substance that is worthy of your consideration if you are suffering from any kind of chronic illness. I simply can not state enough how important this is to your well being friends so please be sure you are doing what you can to ensure healthy levels of this in your diets.
Until next time, be well, naturally.
Craig Hitchens – Natural Health Practitioner
Alternative & Natural Health Disclaimer:
The information contained in this article is accurate at the time of posting but may change thereafter. The information provided on the various natural health subjects from this website of www.craighitchenstherapies.com is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as any form of medical advice. The information in the article this disclaimer is linked from is not meant to treat, diagnose, prescribe or cure any ailment. Always check with your health professional before taking any products or following any advice that you believe may conflict with other forms of health care. Always consult your health care professional before you start, stop or change anything that has been previously prescribed. Certain herbs and holistic remedies are unsuitable to take if you are pregnant or nursing and must always be cleared by your health professional before use.