When it comes to this outstanding antioxidant, glutathione, there’s both good news and not-so-good news. The good news is that our bodies produce glutathione. The downside, however, is that our standard American diet, stress, toxins, the normal aging process and more can deplete the body of its glutathione levels—leaving many people coming up short. That can spell trouble, too.
It’s not difficult to understand why our bodies may be overwhelmed and missing out on optimal glutathione levels. In addition to the aforementioned “robbers” of glutathione, there are approximately 80,000 toxic industrial chemicals in our environment, an overload of electromagnetic radiation and much more contributing to our current state.
But what is glutathione? You might say that it’s the “Grand Poobah” of antioxidants and is the chief bodily detoxifier and conductor of the immune system. It’s comprised of three simple building blocks of protein called amino acids. They are: cysteine, glycine and glutamine. It contains elements that draw free radicals, heavy metals and toxins to it and keep them from damaging our bodies. In short, glutathione is a critical part of the body’s detoxification system. When toxins stick to glutathione, they’re then carried into the bile and stool—and swept out of your body. Pretty cool, huh?
What’s more is that glutathione is typically recycled in the body and functions to recycle other antioxidants. For example, free radicals are bounced around from antioxidant to antioxidant—ending up with glutathione, which cools off the free radicals and recycles other antioxidants. Afterwards, the body can typically regenerate another protective glutathione molecule—keeping us protected. If the toxic load is too great, however, then that process is impaired. That can wreak havoc on the way our cells deal with oxidative stress and free radicals, as well as how the liver functions in its role of detoxification.
Truth be told, without glutathione, our cells would disintegrate from the destructive forces of oxidation and our livers would cease functioning due to the overwhelming accumulation of toxins. But that’s not all that glutathione does. It also protects the skin, as well as the eyes' lenses, corneas and retinas. In addition to detoxifying the kidneys and liver, it also detoxifies the lungs, intestines, epithelia and other organs.
Glutathione is also important for maintaining maximized physical and mental function. Research indicates that healthy glutathione levels support healthy muscles, strength and endurance as well as healthy levels of inflammation; reduce recovery time and support metabolism from fat production to muscle development.
Fortunately, there are steps we can take to increase natural glutathione levels in the body, including eating certain foods and exercising regularly. Some foods that boost glutathione levels are onions, garlic, asparagus, avocados and walnuts as well as cruciferous veggies like broccoli, kale, watercress, cauliflower and cabbage—preferably organic.
You can also include healthy protein sources, since amino acids make up glutathione. Red meat, eggs, poultry and dairy products are good choices. Choose organic for clean, non-toxic proteins. Otherwise, you could add to your toxic load.
Whatever you do, however, be sure you’re not lacking in the mother lode of antioxidants.