Glutathione: Master Antioxidant & Detox Agent
Glutathione is an amino acid and master antioxidant in the human body. According to researchers at the Liu et al (2014) of Department of Biochemistry at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, one of glutathione's powerful primary roles is cellular detoxification. Glutathione S-transferase (GST), a thiol, actually attracts and then captures and binds to circulating toxins and carcinogenic compounds, such as mercury from dental fillings, drugs, and pesticides, and safely excretes them through the intestines. Importantly, glutathione support the liver's ability to detoxify the body while it prevents cellular disintegration.
Glutathione can actually help to prevent serious diseases, including dementia, cancer and heart disease. Doctors use glutathione in the treatment of Alzheimer's, autism, cocaine dependency, and abnormal polyps that present in colorectal cancers.
Glutathione Levels and Disease
The relationship between the body's glutathione levels and disease is key to understanding its importance to human health. Researchers know that serious chronic diseases, such as diabetes, Parkinson's, and autoimmune spectrum disorders cause the body to use its stores of glutathione. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), autoimmune diseases include more than one hundred different conditions or diseases. More than twenty-three million people in the United States are currently diagnosed with some form of autoimmune disease. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) predicts that more than seventy-five million people could suffer with some form of autoimmune disease by 2050. Since some doctors believe that autoimmune diseases are the result of a Western lifestyle, bringing the body back into balance with improved diet, exercise, glutathione, and stress management practices makes good sense.
While it is possible to purchase glutathione in capsule form, most researchers say that the body must make its own naturally-occurring glutathione from the right ingredients and enough physical exercise. Supplements must be consumed on an empty stomach with plenty of fresh water or clear juice.
Mercury from amalgam fillings is one of the most common reasons an individual may have lower than normal glutathione levels. Glutathione is an especially effective way to remove heavy metals like mercury from the body. If an individual has many amalgam fillings, his or her glutathione stores may be compromised. Seek dental advise about the replacement of these fillings.
Mold and Other Environmental Toxins
Mycotoxins are omnipresent in today's food supply, and even so-called healthy grains, seeds, and nuts carry mold spores. In addition mold grows and actually thrives in heating and air conditioning ducts at home and in the office. Forced heat and air delivers these toxins into the air. The NIH reports that increased cases of chronic fatigue, respiratory diseases, allergies, joint-muscle issues, and "brain fog" result in part from exposure to environmental mold and toxins. As the body mounts an offense against mycotoxins, it is important to support its ability to make enough glutathione.
Other toxins, such as pthalates from plastics, leach from an ever-increasing amount of plastic water bottles or containers used and discarded into landfills. Pthalates can also outgas from clothes, rugs, furniture and toys. These toxins are also found in some personal care products, such as cosmetics. Since researchers say that phthalates wreak hormonal havoc, resulting in birth defects, developmental delays, normal genital development in young males, and reproductive maladies to mention just a few, it is crucial to maintain and support the body's healthy glutatione levels.
Detoxification in a Toxic World
A healthy lifestyle is an important safeguard in today's toxic world, but it is not the complete answer. Protection from HVAC and mold, toxins in food, water, and personal care products, pollution, and high levels of stress all cause the body to call upon its precious glutathione reserves. A European research university recommends consumption of a high-priced whey drink one of the ways to increase glutathione. A small number of private clinics even offer glutathione IV drips to their patients who need an emergency boost.
However, most patients can inexpensively stimulate their bodies' natural ability to make enough glutatione by selecting fresh, organic produce and other sulfur-rich foods and supplements. The research about glutathione tells a simple story: not enough glutathione is likely to indicate the presence or likelihood of serious illness. Restoring the body's healthy, protective levels of glutathione is one of the most effective ways to detoxify the body of mercury from dental fillings, medicine residues (even over-the-counter medicines like Tylenol can tax liver function over time), naturally occurring and environmental toxins.
Natural Ways to Increase Glutathione
Poor diet, stress, medicines, and environmental factors can deplete normally occurring cellular glutathione levels. Because the body tends to make less glutathione over time, it is a good idea to eat more sulfur-rich vegetables, such as onions, broccoli, garlic and cabbage, to support its production. Regular physical exercise can help to increase cellular glutathione. Supplementation with glutathione precursors, including N-acetyl-cysteine, selenium, vitamins C and E, and alpha-lipoic acid, can also help the body make more of its own glutathione.