What is Glutathione?
Glutathione, or GSH, is an important protein that is built from 3 amino acids cysteine which is the limiting factor in the production of glutathione, glutamate which is the component of brain cells, and glycine that promotes metabolism. The production of this unique protein takes place in every cell in the body. This protein is important to the body for detoxification. Most of its work is done in the liver but it is also found in the lungs. In the liver it fights fat soluble toxins like heavy metals, solvents, and pesticides by changing them into water soluble forms so the kidney can flush them out of the body in the urine. In the lungs it fights toxins in smoke, smog and other toxins found in the air. It fights free radicals in the body and keeps some biological molecules in their chemical state. It also helps with the body’s immune system, muscle cells as well as the digestive system.
Glutathione (GSH) Deficiency
Glutathione is made by the body from vitamins and amino acids in the foods we eat. The body will make enough of this protein to carry out its normal functions. There is no need to take a supplement for glutathione because it will not be absorbed by the body if taken by mouth. Certain diseases will cause a reduction of this protein in the body, like diabetes, HIV infection, cataracts, and cancer. Cigarette smoking will also cause a drop in production of glutathione. Some medications, and radiation can also deplete this protein in the body.
A poor diet can also cause the body not to be able to produce enough glutathione because the food we eat helps in the production. To help increase glutathione levels there are food you can eat that can help the body to produce more. A diet rich in sulfur containing foods such as garlic, onions, parsley, and cruciferous vegetables, and other vegetables like avocados, squash, asparagus, walnuts, and tomatoes will also help. Do not cook them eat them raw because cooking reduces the amount of glutathione in them by 30 to 60% and if you can them it is completely gone. If you drink fresh cow milk, goats milk, and fresh eggs they are very good for promoting the production of this protein. Red meats and organ meat are high in alpha lipoic acid which has shown to help to ensure that Glutathione (GSH) Deficiency is not a problem.
Organic turmeric is also great for the production of this protein. If you would like to know about GSH, and have a question about the master antioxidant: glutathione then you will begin to understand it’s benefits in your body and how you can increase this molecule which fights free radicals. Cysteine has also shown to help raise the level in people that have HIV infection, cancer, and hepatitis. Lipoic acid has been shown to raise the levels as well. Selenium is also needed in the body to bind to GSH to form glutathione peroxidase which prevents the formation of hydrogen peroxide in the body.
The body cannot prevent the hydrogen peroxide from forming without selenium or glutathione it takes the combination of them to prevent it from building up in the body to a toxic level. There have been some signs that glutathione can help with preventing blood clots during surgery and may help with male infertility as well as help with the early stages of Parkinson’s disease but it has to be injected not taken by mouth. These possibilities are still in the early stages of becoming clear.
They need to do some testing to prove out these theories. It may help with brain injuries also because the causes of psychiatric diseases are most often having to do with a deficiency of glutathione metabolism and immune defenses. There are several ailments that glutathione does help with, such as aging the antioxidant factors of this protein has shown to slow down the aging process of the eyes, skin and body. It has been proven that when the body gets older it does not produce as much glutathione.
When the levels of GSH were raised 20% higher in people over 50 they had 1/3 less rate of RA, high blood pressure, heart disease and other diseases that come with getting older. We have discussed the function of GSH in the body but here is an easy way to remember the main functions:
2) Immunity booster
4) Suppressor of Inflammation
5) Transporter of amino acids
6) Regulator of bodily response to injury
7) Enzymes activator
8) Strengthens the production and repair of DNA
9) Steers direction of production of proteins AIDSTRESS!
This acronym can help you to remember what you need to know about the functions of GSH. In the case of this protein it is better to start at a young age taking care of the levels in your body. If you take care of the glutathione levels in your body by eating the right foods and exercising. Then as you age your body will be able to help you heal from or even prevent the onset of certain ailments that are brought on with age and the decreased amounts of GSH in your body’s cells. Remember to increase the intake of foods that help you to produce this protein when you get older because the production slows down with age so more of the right foods are needed to raise the production.
Let’s recap some of the foods that you need to eat to maintain the level of GSH in your body. We need to eat things like red meat, fish or seafood, fresh vegetables like tomatoes, cabbage, broccoli, squash,and asparagus straight from the garden because cooking reduces the amounts of nutrients we get from them, turmeric in our soups, onions, garlic, fresh cow or goat milk, fresh eggs, walnuts,organ meat like liver, heart, or brain. We also need to eat foods that have selenium in them because glutathione needs it to rid the body of hydrogen peroxide. Remember to take care of your body and it will take care of you.