What is Glutathione?
Glutathione is the most abundant antioxidant in our bodies. In fact, virtually every organism on Earth has some glutathione in its cells. Glutathione is comprised largely of three amino acids: glutamine, glycine, and cysteine. Glutathione actually boosts (recycles) other antioxidants, like vitamin C and vitamin E, as well as alpha lipoic acid and CoQ10.
The “master” antioxidant protects the human body like few others. Without adequate levels of glutathione, you are at risk of dangerous medical conditions, including: Macular degeneration, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Diabetes, Hepatitis, Cancer, COPD, Liver disease, Sickle cell anemia, Cystic fibrosis, Stroke, Heart disease & Infertility.
But when glutathione levels are healthy, that’s when the magic happens. Glutathione can not only prevent health problems, but possibly experience amazing energy, glowing skin, a strong heart, and a sharp brain.
The Benefits of Glutathione
Glutathione is essential for the immune system’s proper functioning and is vital in building and repairing tissue. It acts as an important antioxidant, which helps protect your body from damage to cells caused by free radicals.
1. Detoxification. While you may typically think of a detox as something you do once or twice a year, glutathione is in it for the long haul, working around the clock, every day, to remove the toxins that can make us sick. Suffice to say, it’s one of the most important nutrients not just for optimal detoxification but also for optimal health.
In fact, glutathione is such an important compound that researchers are starting to suggest that levels of this critical nutrient are predictive of longevity. The role of glutathione in your body’s detoxification system is vital. Without glutathione, your body would not be able to neutralize and eliminate toxins effectively. But your natural processes sometimes need a boost from increased glutathione from your diet or supplements.
2. Energy. Energy production occurs within all cells (except red blood cells) via the mitochondria. Glutathione protects mitochondria from free radicals and the oxidative damage they cause. In this way, glutathione is paramount to energy production. If mitochondria are damaged, they slow down and start to make less energy. The affected “diseased” mitochondria leads to decreased bodily function and efficiency.
To make things worse, damaged mitochondria output more free radicals. In turn, these free radicals cause further mitochondrial damage and create a vicious cycle of less energy and more damage. Glutathione binds these free radicals and relieves oxidative stress — not just on the mitochondria, but on the rest of the cell.
3. Skin. Whether concerned with acne, wrinkles, dryness, eczema, or puffy eyes, many are seeking flawless, youthful skin. Science says that glutathione is an effective answer. Cells can heal and regenerate themselves, thanks to glutathione.
Glutathione not only decreases the melanin (pigmentation) in your skin, but has also been found to decrease wrinkles and increase skin elasticity. Glutathione works on the skin pigment production by inhibiting tyrosinase, an enzyme involved in making melanin.
4. Brain. How do low levels of glutathione affect brain and mental health? As we age, it’s not uncommon to experience a bit of forgetfulness or difficulty concentrating. These are just two examples of neurodegeneration, a process by which the neurons in our brains become damaged and may even die. This leaves us with “shrinking” brains that don’t function to their full capacity. While this process is unavoidable as we age, it can be slowed, or even reversed, and glutathione plays an important role.
Accelerated neurodegenerative diseases, like Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s diseases exhibit high levels of oxidative stress damage to the brain as well as low active glutathione levels. Glutathione can ease and decrease the rate of damage to brain tissue. Other neurological illnesses like Lyme disease weaken when your body experiences higher levels of glutathione.
5. Heart. The number one health related cause of death in the United States is still a heart attack. A lesser known fact is that glutathione may prevent heart attack and other heart disease, thanks to its ability to neutralize the “lipid oxidation” (fat oxidation) process.
Virtually all heart disease starts with the accumulation of arterial plaque inside the artery walls. Bad cholesterol (LDL) is lipid oxidized and damages the lining of the blood vessels, forming a plaque (atherosclerosis). When these plaques eventually rupture and break off, they can clog your blood vessels and block blood flow that causes heart attacks or strokes.
With the help of an enzyme called glutathione peroxidase, glutathione stops the superoxides, free radicals, hydrogen peroxides, lipid peroxides, and peroxynitrites that cause this lipid oxidation and wreak havoc on your health. In this way, glutathione helps to prevent damage and lowers the risk of heart attacks. In a study of 643 cardiac patients who underwent coronary angiography in Germany, those who died of heart attacks had much lower levels of glutathione peroxidase than those who survived.
If we don’t have enough glutathione to neutralize damage to our arteries, we are at increased risk of heart disease and cardiovascular events.
6. Inflammation. Inflammation has been a hot topic in the natural health world for the past decade; however, many people still don’t fully understand exactly why inflammation lies at the root of most of the health concerns plaguing Americans today. High levels of inflammation are present in virtually every chronic illness, like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. However, inflammation is also healthy and necessary (in short bursts) to fight infectious invaders.
The inflammatory response comes to your rescue when it’s needed and cools itself off once the healing is complete. But we don’t live in an ideal world. In the real world, environmental toxins, your diet, stress, and other lifestyle issues have disabled the checks and balances of this system and inflammation doesn’t subside and go away as it is meant to. As a result, many people suffer from chronic, systemic inflammation. When this happens, you’re in trouble. You need a lot of extra protection. That’s where glutathione can help.
Glutathione controls when inflammation increases or decreases as needed, by instructing and influencing our immune white cells. This is a completely separate mechanism from its antioxidant properties. Rebalancing glutathione levels reduces chronic inflammation and restores immune function.
7. Immune System. Glutathione helps your immune system stay strong and ready to fight infections. While vitamin C seems to get all the accolades when it comes to immunity, glutathione is the under-recognized supporting actor who deserves the starring role.
Research shows that active glutathione primes white cells such as natural killer (NK) and T cells, your body’s front-line infection fighters. Glutathione-enhanced T cells are able to produce more infection-fighting substances, controlling both bacterial and viral infections.
In another study, researchers found that glutathione modulates the behavior of many immune system cells, affecting adaptive immunity and protecting against microbial, viral and parasitic infections.
There are many chronic infections such as EBV, hepatitis, herpes viruses and Lyme, to name a few, which can deregulate and suppress the immune system. Glutathione can modulate and reverse this suppression. Autoimmune diseases also appear to be hallmarked by imbalanced glutathione levels.
Boosting Your Glutathione
Glutathione is naturally produced in the body, but aging, poor diet, alcohol, stress, intense exercise, infections, the overuse of antibiotics, chemicals, and other toxins all deplete this important antioxidant. This bombardment from so many angles can make it difficult to maintain healthy glutathione levels, but the good news is that there are plenty of effective ways to naturally boost production of this health promoting nutrient.
Adding cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, kale, cauliflower, etc.), foods rich in Alpha Lipoic Acid (Organ mets, beef, brewers yeast, tomatoes) and Selenium (seafood, brazil nuts, eggs, mushrooms, asparagus and whole grains) are all good dietary sources of glutathione.
In addition, glutathione can be taken as an oral supplement, given topically, as an inhalant or most effective, intravenously.
At Tennessee Hydration and Wellness, we offer Glutathione as a take home therapy or as an addition to boost many of our IV Therapies. Give us a call and we will put together a therapy that works best for you!
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