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Glutathione is an antioxidant produced in cells. It consists largely of three amino acids: glutamine, glycine, and cysteine. Glutathione levels in the body can decline with age and due to a number of factors including malnutrition, environmental toxins and stress.
In addition to being produced naturally by the body, glutathione can be given intravenously, topically, or as an inhalant. It is also available as an oral supplement in capsule and liquid form. However, oral administration of glutathione may not be as effective as intravenous administration for some conditions.
Oxidative stress occurs when there is an imbalance between the production of free radicals and the body’s ability to fight them. Very high levels of oxidative stress may be a precursor to more than one disease. These include diabetes, cancer, and rheumatoid arthritis. Glutathione helps to counteract the effect of oxidative stress, which can reduce disease.
Reduces cell damage in alcoholic and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
Cell death in the liver may be exacerbated by a lack of antioxidants, including glutathione. This can lead to fatty liver disease in both alcohol abusers and non-smokers. Glutathione has been shown to improve the levels of protein, enzymes and bilirubin in the blood of individuals with alcoholic and nonalcoholic chronic fatty liver disease.
Improves insulin resistance in older individuals
As people age, they produce less glutathione. The researchers used a combination of animal and human studies to investigate the role of glutathione in weight management and insulin resistance in older individuals. The study findings showed that lower glutathione levels were associated with less fat burning and higher rates of fat storage in the body.
Older subjects had cysteine and glycine added to their diets to increase glutathione levels, which rose within two weeks, improving insulin resistance and fat burning.
Improves mobility for people with peripheral artery disease
Peripheral artery disease occurs when peripheral arteries become clogged by plaque. Most commonly, it happens in the legs. One study reported that glutathione improved circulation and increased study participants’ ability to walk longer distances without pain. Participants who received glutathione instead of a placebo saline solution were given intravenous infusions twice daily for five days and then analyzed for mobility.
Reduces symptoms of Parkinson’s disease
Parkinson’s disease affects the central nervous system and is characterized by symptoms such as tremors. There is currently no cure. An older study documented the positive effects of intravenous glutathione on symptoms such as tremors and stiffness. Although more research is needed, this case report suggests that glutathione may help reduce symptoms and improve quality of life in people with this disease.
May help fight autoimmune diseases
Chronic inflammation caused by autoimmune diseases can increase oxidative stress. These diseases include rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, and lupus. According to one study, glutathione helps reduce oxidative stress by stimulating or reducing the body’s immunological response. Autoimmune diseases attack the mitochondria in certain cells. Glutathione works to protect cell mitochondria by eliminating free radicals.
May reduce oxidative damage in children with autism
Many studies, including a clinical trial reported in Medical Science Monitor Trusted Source, show that children with autism have higher oxidative damage and lower glutathione levels in their brains.
9 Natural Ways to Increase Your Glutathione Levels
1. Consume Sulfur-Rich Foods
Sulfur is an essential mineral found naturally in some plant and protein foods.
It is necessary for the structure and activity of important proteins and enzymes in the body. In particular, sulfur is required for glutathione synthesis.
Sulfur is found in two amino acids in foods: methionine and cysteine. It is primarily derived from dietary proteins such as beef, fish, and poultry.
However, there are also vegetarian sources of sulfur, such as cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, watercress and mustard greens.
2. Increase Your Vitamin C Intake
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin found in a variety of foods, especially fruits and vegetables. Strawberries, citrus fruits, papaya, kiwi and bell pepper are examples of foods rich in vitamin C.
This vitamin has many functions, including working as an antioxidant to protect cells from oxidative damage. It also allows the body to supply other antioxidants, including glutathione.
Researchers have discovered that vitamin C can help increase glutathione levels by first attacking free radicals, thereby helping to preserve glutathione.
3. Add Selenium-Rich Foods to Your Diet
Selenium is an essential mineral and a glutathione cofactor, meaning it is an essential substance for glutathione activity. Some of the best sources of selenium are beef, chicken, fish, offal, cottage cheese, brown rice and Brazil nuts.
You can help maintain or increase your body’s supply of glutathione by increasing your selenium intake.
4. Eat Foods Naturally Rich in Glutathione
The human body produces glutathione, but there are also dietary sources. Spinach, avocado, asparagus, and okra are some of the richest dietary sources.
However, dietary glutathione is poorly absorbed by the human body. Additionally, cooking and storage conditions can reduce the amount of glutathione found in food.
Although having a lower effect on increased glutathione levels, foods rich in glutathione may help reduce oxidative stress.
5. Whey protein supplement
Your body’s production of glutathione depends on certain amino acids.
An amino acid called cysteine is a particularly important amino acid involved in glutathione synthesis.
6. Try Turmeric Extract
Turmeric is a vibrant yellow-orange herb and a popular spice in Indian cuisine.
7. Get Enough Sleep
A good night’s sleep is essential for overall health. Interestingly, prolonged lack of sleep can cause oxidative stress and even hormone imbalances.
Also, research has shown that chronic sleep deprivation can reduce glutathione levels.
8. Exercise Regularly
Regular physical activity has long been recommended by doctors and healthcare providers. It’s no surprise that exercise is good for both your physical and mental health. Recent research shows that exercise also helps maintain or increase antioxidant levels, particularly glutathione.
9. Avoid Drinking Alcohol
It is not surprising that many adverse health effects are associated with chronic and excessive alcohol intake.
Alcoholism is often associated with conditions such as liver cirrhosis, brain damage, and pancreatitis.
Although not very well known, lung damage is also a negative effect of alcoholism. This is probably related to depletion of glutathione levels in the lungs.