Many people have heard the name glutathione before, but just cant pinpoint what it is. That's understandable- many people can hardly pronounce the name!
However, it is one of the body's most important tools in maintaining good health, with roles in virtually every human system.
So what is this glutathione we speak of? We're glad you asked. In this blog post, we discuss what it is, and why it really is in your best interest to ensure that you keep levels within a healthy range.
Let's get our feet wet now, shall we?
What is Glutathione?
Glutathione is an antioxidant, classified as a peptide, and found in both plant and animal cells. It is composed of three amino acids: cysteine, glycine, and glutamic acid, and is a key part of many of the body’s biochemical processes, with a wide range of effects that include detoxification and protection against free radical damage.
While glutathione can be found naturally in many foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, and meats, it is synthesized in the body under normal circumstances.
It is absolutely essential for the health of your cells, organs, and body processes, and is necessary for the functioning of many enzymes and other protein-based molecules.
1. Helps Treat Alcoholic and Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
One of the many impressive benefits of glutathione is its ability to help manage alcoholic and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease alike. This condition is caused by an accumulation of fat in the liver and is often linked to a high-fat diet and/or excessive alcohol consumption.
Glutathione helps to break down fat, allowing it to be excreted from the body more easily, reducing the metabolic strain on the liver. In addition, glutathione helps to reduce hepatic inflammation, which is often associated with fatty liver disease. As such, it can help to reduce the risk of cirrhosis and other complications associated with this condition.
Supplements such as milk thistle (silymarin) as part of their liver-protecting effect also help to raise glutathione levels, which is believed to be one of the primary mechanisms behind their positive action in the liver and in treating fatty liver disease.
2. Enhances Immune System Function
When it comes to the body’s immune system, there are many supporting actors working in the shadows. When the immune system is strong and functioning properly, it’s able to protect the body from illness, infection, and disease.
Glutathione helps to increase the body’s natural immunity by stimulating the production of immune cells and boosting overall immune system function. These include cell types such as B and T lymphocytes, which are integral for responding to threats from foreign invaders.
Glutathione also helps to reduce the risk of oxidative stress in immune cells by providing them with protection from free radicals. This is especially important for those who have weakened immune systems due to chronic illness or naturally as part of the aging process.
3. Enhances Skin Health
If you'd like to keep your skin in tip-top condition, glutathione can help you out there too. We already touched on its strong anti-oxidant potential, which can help reduce the development not of wrinkles prematurely.
It also helps to prevent cell damage from UV rays, smoke, and other environmental pollutants. Combined with supporting the production of collagen, a key protein in skin health, and also helping to inhibit the breakdown of collagen and elastin fibers, you can see its great utility here.
Furthermore, Glutathione helps to detoxify the skin and can reduce the appearance of age spots and other discoloration, which explains why it is revered by some beauty experts as one of the latest and greatest "innovations" in the skincare industry.
But why wait- why not start improving your skin today, with high-quality collagen protein in a delicious powdered formula such as Radiance? It's always better to be safe than sorry, don't wait until you see detrimental changes in your skin.
4. Reduces Insulin Resistance And Improves Insulin Sensitivity
Diabetes is one of the most serious metabolic conditions of our time. With regard to type 2 DM, approaches to reduce insulin resistance and improve insulin sensitivity should always be sought.
People with higher levels of glutathione often have lower fasting insulin levels and improved insulin sensitivity, meaning their bodies can more effectively utilize the insulin they have produced.
This is especially beneficial for those with diabetes, as they need to maintain efficacious insulin levels in order to keep their blood sugar levels under control. Glutathione can also help reduce inflammation, which is another implicated factor that contributes to insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia.
5. Supports Brain Function
Loss of some degree of our cognitive function is almost inevitable as we age. However, Mr. Glutathione might have a thing or two to say about that. The protection it offers against excessive oxidation is believed to help protect cells of the brain from damage, which is believed to be a major contributing factor to neurodegenerative diseases.
The development of neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease is associated with decreased glutathione levels, so it is no surprise that researchers are looking into the potential of using glutathione as a way to preserve cognitive function and reduce the risk of age-related brain disorders.
On top of this, studies suggest that supplementing with glutathione may even help improve memory and concentration and provide extra protection against age-related mental decline.
6. May Prevent or Impair Cancer Disease Progression
One of Glutathione's more well-known actions is its ability to lower the risk and impairment of cancer disease progression. Studies have shown that glutathione's ability to inhibit the proliferation of cancer cells and induce their programmed death, known as apoptosis, can be extremely beneficial for people who are trying to prevent or manage cancer.
Furthermore, the antioxidant activity of glutathione can reduce inflammation in the body, which is a major contributor to the progression of many types of cancers.
7. May Help Manage Symptoms Of Autism Spectrum Disorder
It is believed that people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) often have low levels of glutathione. As such, some studies are exploring the potential benefits of supplementing with this powerful antioxidant in order to manage the symptoms associated with ASD.
So far, research has shown that supplementing with glutathione can help improve focus and reduce the severity of behavioral issues associated with ASD, such as aggression and impulsivity.
Furthermore, supplementing to increase levels in the body has been found to reduce symptoms in children with mild autism, such as irritability and anxiety. While more research is needed, glutathione may be a promising potential treatment for autism spectrum disorder.
8. Strengthens Hair and Nails
In addition to your skin, glutathione can also help strengthen hair and nails, which are vulnerable to damage from oxidative stress. With regular use, glutathione can help restore the strength and shine of hair and nails and prevent them from becoming brittle and weak. It can also help prevent hair loss, thinning, and graying as a result of high oxidative load.
9. May Help Limit Damage Caused By Ulcerative Colitis
How can glutathione help with UC? Studies suggest that it may help reduce the damage caused by this condition by reducing inflammation and increasing antioxidant protection.
Furthermore, glutathione has been found to have a beneficial effect on the gut microbiota, which is thought to play a role in the development of ulcerative colitis in the first place. By modulating the immune response, glutathione is thought to help reduce symptoms and improve overall gut health. While more research is needed to fully understand the role of glutathione in ulcerative colitis, it is an encouraging sign that this naturally occurring compound could help offer protection from this chronic condition.
10. Supports Heart Health
There are several mechanisms by which glutathione is thought to help boost heart health. Firstly, its antioxidant activity helps to reduce oxidative stress in the cardiovascular system and protects against damage from free radicals.
Secondly, glutathione can help prevent atherosclerotic plaque development by reducing inflammation in the arteries.
Glutathione can also help support the production of nitric oxide, which helps relax and dilate the blood vessels, improving blood flow and lower blood pressure in the process.
Finally, Glutathione helps to reduce the process of lipid peroxidation and regulate redox pathways, which can help reduce the plaque buildup that can lead to atherosclerosis.
Studies have shown that low glutathione levels are associated with an increased risk of coronary artery disease and other cardiovascular disorders.
And before we go- it's worth mentioning that Glutathione can also protect blood vessels from damage caused by homocysteine, a toxic amino acid that has been linked to the development of heart failure (even in people who have never had a heart attack).
11. Glutathione May Help Improve Management of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
Research has shown that glutathione supplementation may reduce the oxidative stress associated with COPD, which is believed to contribute to its development and progression. Glutathione may also be beneficial for increasing antioxidant levels in COPD patients and reducing inflammation, which could improve quality of life. Furthermore, glutathione may be beneficial for reducing the risk of bacterial infections, which are a common complication of COPD.
Studies have also demonstrated that glutathione can help reduce many of the symptoms of COPD too, including shortness of breath, coughing, and wheezing. In addition, glutathione may help reduce the risk of exacerbations of COPD, and may even reduce the risk of death from the disease.
Given its potential for reducing oxidative stress and inflammation, and for increasing the body's ability to fight infections, glutathione may be a promising approach for improving the management of COPD.
12. Psoriasis Control
This super-antioxidant has also been studied for its potential role in improving the management of psoriasis. The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties may contribute to its ability to ameliorate the symptoms of psoriasis and offer a good entry-level explanation of its actions. But there's more.
Glutathione may help to reduce the itchiness associated with psoriasis, as well as promote the healing of lesions. Furthermore, it may also help to stabilize the immune system and reduce the proliferation of keratinocytes, which could help to decrease flare-ups.
The ability to suppress the activation of T-cells, and reduce the expression of a number of pro-inflammatory cytokines that can trigger psoriasis flares are also extremely helpful since psoriasis is an auto-immune disorder and responds in a manner similar to other diseases with the same origin.
13. Support Mobility in People With Peripheral Artery Disease
Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) is a condition that develops when the blood vessels in the arms or legs become narrowed or blocked due to the buildup of fatty deposits, known as plaque. The resulting lack of oxygen can cause pain, numbness, and fatigue in the legs and feet.
Glutathione may help support mobility in people with PAD. Studies suggest that it can help improve circulation, reduce inflammation, and reduce oxidative stress that can cause tissue damage.
It may also help reduce associated symptoms such as pain, numbness, and fatigue.
Glutathione can reduce platelet aggregation, which can lead to clots and blockages in the arteries and veins that may precipitate the dense feeling in the extremities.
Furthermore, it helps to inhibit the activity of elastase, an enzyme responsible for the breakdown of elastin, the protein that gives arteries flexibility and elasticity.
Plus, as we previously touched on, it can help reduce cholesterol levels, improve the health of blood vessels, and increase the production of nitric oxide, which will help blood flow. By providing these benefits, Glutathione may help improve the quality of life for people with peripheral artery disease by allowing them to move more freely and with less pain.
Symptoms of A Glutathione Deficiency
So how do you even know if you possibly have low levels of this super-antioxidant?
Mainly, it can lead to a variety of health issues. Though these symptoms aren't exclusive to a deficiency of this molecule, you might do well to suspect it.
Here are three common symptoms of glutathione deficiency- fatigue, brain fog, and weakened immunity. Fatigue can range from mild to severe and can be caused by an accumulation of free radicals in the body. Brain fog is an inability to focus, concentrate, and remember things.
Lastly, a weakened immune system can leave you more susceptible to infections and diseases. If you feel like you're getting sick way more than what you would consider normal, it might be wise to have your blood checked to ascertain where you stand.
How To Increase Glutathione Levels
There are 3 main approaches to increasing glutathione levels:
Eating more antioxidant-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables, can help boost glutathione levels. Foods like avocados, garlic, onions, tomatoes, spinach, kale, and broccoli are especially good sources of glutathione.
A superfood powder like Field Of Greens is a godsend in these situations since you are able to get an array of plant-based ingredients in combination for maximum benefit.
Exercising regularly and reducing stress can also help to increase glutathione levels. Exercise helps to reduce oxidative stress in the body, while stress reduction lowers cortisol levels and helps to create an environment more conducive to glutathione production. Not to mention the importance of sleep and a proper night's rest.
Supplementing with glutathione precursors and other antioxidants can help to increase overall levels of the molecule in the body. Supplementing your diet with milk thistle, N-acetylcysteine (NAC) and alpha lipoic acid (ALA) are all excellent ways to do this, as is the importance of a potent micro-nutrient blend like Fortify, providing the essential vitamins and minerals.
Glutathione supplements also exist on the market, but under certain circumstances, it might be best to not use the direct form since excesses do not good either.
Glutathione might be one of the hardest workers in our body, wearing many hats at its numerous jobs. You would be well-served to ensure that you optimize levels to maintain health for years to come.