With all the hype surrounding antioxidants, few people know the human body actually makes its own. In fact, one of the most important antioxidants for human health is a molecule called glutathione (pronounced “glue-ta-THIGH-own”). It is a body-made antioxidant which is the master detoxifier, protecting the cells from oxidative damage.
It can ease signs of aging and prevent colds, infections, cancer, heart disease and dementia and is necessary for optimizing our energy metabolism. It’s also needed for controlling chronic inflammation, which is associated with some types of arthritis, heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s. One doctor, Dr. Mark Hyman, goes so far as to state the one thing all his chronically ill patients seem to have in common is a deficiency of glutathione.
The only problem is glutathione levels are depleted by many of the things we expose our bodies to on a daily basis — poor dietary choices, many forms of pollution, medications, toxins, excessive stress and trauma, infections (including hidden infections) and radiation from multiple modern conveniences (like wi-fi and cellphones).
What’s more, many of us don’t have the proper gene needed to produce or recycle glutathione in the body — almost 50 per cent of the population has a limited potential to keep up with required detoxification. The good news is there are ways to naturally boost glutathione levels — and Dr. Hyman is here to help.
Consume sulphur-rich food: Part of glutathione’s power is the sulfur it contains. Sulfur is a molecule that sticks to the things in our body that need to be detoxified, like heavy metals or free radicals. Eating sulphur-rich foods — like garlic, onions and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, collards, kale or cabbage — means you’re giving your body what it needs to make glutathione.
Exercise: Exercise boosts glutathione production; both strength training and aerobic exercise. Regular exercise helps to boost your immune system, improves detoxification and enhances the antioxidant defenses of the body.
Supplement the right stuff: Since it’s a protein, we can’t take a glutathione pill because it won’t survive the digestive process (our digestive system breaks down proteins). Supplementing all the constituent parts of glutathione allows the body to build it itself. Here’s where to start: The supplement N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC) is a highly absorbable form of cysteine, one of the amino acids in it; the B vitamins — B6, B12 and folate — are important for both the production and recycling of glutathione; selenium is an important mineral that helps the body recycle glutathione; and herb milk thistle is good for the liver and has been found to boost the levels.
Check out the full list of tips here.
The Healthy Foodie is Doug DiPasquale