Think of a time when you were multitasking or overwhelmed by a to-do list. Did you find yourself wishing that your brain was a supercomputer or that you could be in more than one place at once? Now let’s transfer this analogy to our health. Wouldn’t it be amazing if there was one pill or liquid dose that we could swallow to boost protection against all manner of ailments? Think anything from cancer to heart disease and inflammations to brain fog. It does sound a bit like a magic pill, doesn’t it?
Well, except that this magic pill does exist, in the form of a potent antioxidant called Glutathione. Glutathione is a natural molecule found abundantly in our bodies. This makes it unique, compared to other antioxidants like vitamins C and E, which must come from our diet. It works quietly in the background, roaming around the body, scavenging for free radicals that can damage our cells. In doing this, it protects us from illness and ensures the proper functioning of various systems.
What Exactly is Glutathione?
Glutathione is a molecule made up of three amino acids- cysteine, glycine, and glutamic acid. In most literature, it is referred to as ‘the mother of all antioxidants.’ This is not only because it is a potent antioxidant in its own right but also because it helps the body utilize and recycle other antioxidants, such as vitamins E and C.
Glutathione exists in two states, the reduced, active form, GHS, and the oxidized, inactive form, GSSG. GSH roams around the body, relieving any oxidative stress caused by free radicals. When it repairs oxidative damage, it becomes oxidized and, therefore, inactive (GSSG). The good news is that GHS can be recycled back to the active form, enabling it to continue with its job with nutrients such as vitamin B6 and Selenium. This is another factor that makes Glutathione special.
What are the Health Benefits of Glutathione?
Glutathione has numerous health benefits. Let us look at some of them:
As mentioned, Glutathione is the mother of all antioxidants. An antioxidant is a substance that fights free radicals in the body. On the other hand, free radicals are unstable atoms that can damage our cells and cause illness. Free radicals are by-products of various body processes, but their presence can also be accelerated by lifestyle factors such as smoking, food, and environmental pollution.
Because free radicals exist as an oxygen form missing an electron, they roam around the body ‘poaching’ for electrons. When they take this electron from healthy cells, it destroys the healthy cell, which is referred to as ‘free radical damage.’ Glutathione and other antioxidants rectify this by donating an electron to free radicals, reducing their action on healthy cells.
In the event that your body does not have enough Glutathione, it will not be able to fight the damaging effect of free radicals. When they accumulate, they cause ‘oxidative stress’ and wreak all manner of havoc in the body. Excessive oxidative stress and cellular damage can cause diseases like cancer, ulcers, Alzheimer’s, macular degeneration, arthritis, and inflammatory diseases.
Some of the symptoms that could signify oxidative stress include fatigue, brain fog, headaches, impaired immunity, memory loss, and joint pain.
Glutathione is present in every cell of the body and particularly active in tissues most susceptible to toxicity, such as the brain, liver, heart, kidneys, lungs, skin, and eyes. Concentrations are seven to 10 times higher in liver cells than anywhere else.
‘Detox’ is a popular buzzword but separate from popular juices, the body has its own detox system. But what is it, and why is it important? Think of your kitchen and how after dinner, you clean the dishes, wipe the tabletops, take out the trash, and put everything back in its place. The detoxification system in the body works a little like that.
At any given time, our bodies accumulate toxins from the food we eat, alcohol, the environment (think of car exhaust fumes as you sit in traffic), pesticides, and other harmful compounds. When all these toxins accumulate in our bodies, they can overload the liver and its ability to get rid of them, which, as you can guess, causes diseases. Glutathione plays a crucial role in the detoxification process by binding itself to these toxins, rendering them inactive and preparing them for elimination. Glutathione is found to be in abundance within the Liver.
The energy we use every day is produced in our cell’s mitochondria. When free radicals damage cells, they are unable to produce energy efficiently. This makes them sluggish and stressed, and they end up producing more damaged cells. When our bodies demand much energy, such as during exercise, the cells have to work that much harder despite being sluggish. This can inevitably multiply damaged cells or free radicals. This causes us to experience symptoms like fatigue, headache, brain fog, and muscle aches.
Mitochondrial Gutathione (mGSH) comes in and binds to these free radicals, donating electrons to relieve cells of oxidative stress. This enables them to go back to producing and maintaining energy effectively.
Your brain is like any other part of your body in that as you age your brain cells degenerate. When our brain cells are damaged by oxidative stress, resulting from stress, lack, or over exercise, poor diet, toxins and sleep deprivation. Countering these damaging effects requires a good supply of antioxidants, but primarily it uses Glutathione (GSH), the brain's major antioxidant free radical scavenger.
Glutathione acts directly to prevent oxidative damage. It also has the important attribute of being able to re-cycle other key antioxidants needed for your brain health like vitamin C and E.
Countless studies have found that glutathione levels are significantly depleted in ageing populations and those with mental health conditions. Studies show that people who have Alzheimer's, for instance, have high oxidative stress levels. Although ageing is inevitable, Glutathione has the potential to slow down the process of neurodegeneration caused by oxidative stress and cell damage.
As nature intended it, inflammation is not a bad thing, as it is the body’s defence mechanism against intruders. When the body detects an irritant, virus, bacteria, or pathogen, it initiates a process of expelling it by sending blood, immune cells, and fluids to the affected area. This excess flow of blood to an area can cause physical symptoms like redness and swelling. The symptoms often disappear when the issue is resolved.
Unfortunately, not everything works as smoothly. Due to environmental factors, diet, age, stress, and others, we may end up with chronic inflammation. This is long term inflammation that happens when the intruders remain in the body or when we are constantly exposed to an irritant. Our bodies might also mistakenly fight healthy cells. Chronic inflammation is linked to diseases like Type 1 Diabetes, Asthma, Tuberculosis, and Sinusitis.
Glutathione can help fight chronic inflammation by influencing the action of white blood cells. It also relieves oxidative stress brought about by the inflammation.
The immune system is our body’s first line of defence against disease. It is, therefore, crucial that it stays in the best possible condition at all times. Glutathione steps up by protecting our immune cells from oxidative stress and damage. Glutathione deficiency has a direct result on the T-cell function and for effective T cell activation.
T-cells are the special armed services (SAS) where a strong reaction is needed from them to deal with a specific foreign antigen for maintaining effective immunity. Evidence suggests that Glutathione stimulates the production and activity T-cell ‘Natural Killer cells’ which directly attack and kill cells that are already diseased.
T-cells also use cytokines cells as messenger molecules which aid cell to cell communication for ramping up its response to move cells towards sites of inflammation, infection and trauma.
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.
Because glutathione depletion may occur in sepsis, trauma, and shock, maintaining glutathione levels is essential for enhanced immunocompetence to aid recovery from illness.
This translates to, the healthier the immune cells and in particular T cells are, the better they are equipped at fighting disease. Other than protecting these cells, Glutathione also optimises and improves their functioning.
Glutathione fights oxidative stress, caused when free radicals ROS (reactive oxygen species outnumber antioxidants. This results in an in-effective counter response to prevent these foreign ROS molecules from attacking our cells and tissue. With Free radicals being the overarching enemy, an imbalance is created creating a negative outcome, of wrinkles, inflammation, hyperpigmentation, and melasma.
Glutathione, being the master antioxidant that it is, found in every cell of the human body, is therefore important for the effectively policing of free radicals intrusion. Not only does it combat these free radicals but helps to regenerate cells which in turn depletes these age-related effects and evens out skin tone.
Scientific research shows that our bodies produce less Glutathione as we age. One effect of ageing is reduced energy production and impairment of cells. Cellular damage also leads to chronic diseases, all of which could limit our lifespan. By lowering oxidative stress, minimising cell damage, and reducing the risk of chronic disease, Glutathione may help slow down the ageing process.
How can I raise my Glutathione levels?
Now that we have seen the kind of benefits associated with Glutathione, you are probably wondering how you can get more of it. As mentioned, Glutathione is naturally produced in our bodies by the liver. Unfortunately, pollution, poor diet, age, infections, medication, and stress significantly deplete its levels. This depletion means that we have a challenge fighting toxins or infections, leaving us vulnerable to chronic illness.
Fortunately, it is possible to boost glutathione levels by adjusting our diet and taking food supplements.
Glutathione boosting foods
There are specific types of food that we can eat to boost glutathione levels in the body. It is important to note, though, that Glutathione can be easily destroyed during the cooking process. However, you can still benefit from taking foods with specific nutrients that are involved in its production and recycling.
Sulphur rich foods, for instance, help increase this antioxidant. This is because the body requires Sulphur to synthesize Glutathione. Examples of Sulphur rich foods include garlic, onions, broccoli, kale, collards, and cauliflower.
Another important mineral is selenium, which acts as a glutathione co-factor. This means that it aids Glutathione in carrying out various functions. Both vegans and vegetarians can take advantage of selenium-rich foods like chicken, fish, organ meats, brown rice, cheese, various grains, mushrooms, and Brazil nuts. Tomatoes, grapefruits, and avocados are also rich in selenium.
It is possible to boost your glutathione levels by taking food supplements. Food supplements are nutrients that we take to supplement our diet, particularly when it doesn’t meet our health needs. They can be in powder, capsule, liquid, gel, or tablet forms.
Glutathione supplements are especially useful to people with chronic illnesses, chronic inflammation, and the aged. However reasonably healthy people can still benefit significantly from glutathione supplements, which offer to defend our healthy cells, as discussed above, particularly when it comes to boosting the immune system.
That said, taking Glutathione orally is not as effective as it is likely to be destroyed by stomach acids in the digestive tract. This means that there will be little of the nutrient left for your body to absorb. It is therefore important to know which forms of Glutathione are effective, one of these being liposomal Glutathione.
What is Liposomal Glutathione and why is it preferable?
As mentioned, Glutathione, particularly in the standard powder form, is susceptible to stomach acids and is easily destroyed in the digestive tract. Liposomal Glutathione offers a revolutionary new way to go around this problem and ensure near-perfect absorption into the bloodstream.
Liposomal Glutathione refers to Glutathione that is ‘encased’ in liposomes. Liposomes are protective spheres (bubble, cell-like, fat molecules) that have a double membrane, which encapsulates nutrients. Using technology, nutrients are placed in these spheres, which are suspended in a liquid. The Liposome protects the nutrients from harsh conditions of the digestive tract. They are also shielded from stomach acids and harsh PH. This enables them to travel down the digestive tract while still intact.
The body recognises and absorbs liposomes, then transports them around the body until they fuse with the cell, where they release the nutrients. This guarantees quick and efficient absorption into the bloodstream for subsequent distribution to the rest of the body.