How would you like to seriously reduce the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, auto immune disease (Celiac, Hashimoto’s, Multiple Sclerosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Type 1 diabetes), Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, arthritis, asthma, chronic fatigue syndrome, diabetes and more?
Well, one of the answers is to increase your body’s production of Glutathione (pronounced Gluta – thigh- own). It is the “mother of all anti-oxidants”. An anti-oxidant keeps things from oxidizing, or rusting. If you think about putting lemon juice on your apple slices, you are putting vitamin C (an anti-oxidant) on them and it keeps them from turning brown (or oxidizing). Rusting is another way to think about oxidation. Anti-oxidants work against oxidation. Glutathione is the lemon juice in your body – it keeps you from turning brown (and aging) on the inside.
Additionally, Glutathione is also sticky and it acts like double sided tape and all the bad things in the body stick to it, including heavy metals like mercury. The two of them join up and then are excreted.
Glutathione helps protect us in many ways. But, if you can’t produce enough Glutathione because of genetic mutations, or, if you have a toxic life and you are using more Glutathione than you can produce, the ill effects begin. Without enough glutathione, you are ‘rusting’ or aging prematurely. And, your liver gets overwhelmed and can’t keep up. Toxins are stored to deal with later but the problem arises when later never comes. Just like closets that you intend to clean out but never get to.
So, now that we’ve established what Glutathione is and that we need it, lets talk about signs and symptoms of Glutathione deficiency: any chronic disease mentioned in paragraph one, premature aging, being old which we’ll define as > 25 or 30 years of age and obviously this is a spectrum, if you are not in peak shape and have a hard time recovering from exercise, and you exercise but still have trouble making muscle. These are just some of the things that could indicate a deficiency. Again, actually having one of the chronic diseases DOES indicate glutathione deficiency. You are overworking your metabolic pathways.
If you regularly get my newsletter, you know I love the new field of genetics and nutra-genomics which is how food influences our gene expression. Well, we can now test for genes involved in glutathione metabolism and almost half of our population has a limited ability to get rid of toxins. They are missing GSTM1 function which is needed in the process of creating and recycling glutathione in the body.
As our world has become more toxic (water, air, pesticides, herbicides, chemicals in our body care products, chemicals on our lawn, medications, chemicals in our food supply…), our need for Glutathione increases. Who knew when man was created just how many chemicals we’d develop and our huge need to be able to detoxify.
So, what to do.
- Food is medicine right? Consume (more) sulfur rich foods like broccoli, kale, collards, cabbage, cauliflower, watercress, garlic, onions, and scallions. Try a non-dairy cream of broccoli soup…make kale chips…put purple cabbage in your next stir fry…cut brussel sprouts in half and roast them…make ‘fake’ mashed potatoes with steamed cauliflower…put onions in all your soups, stews, and stir fry’s. Add them to a burger or chicken patty. The possibilities are truly endless. Today, while I wrote my column, I munched on roasted brussel sprouts. They are delicious just in case you haven’t tried them since grade school!
- Exercise. It boosts your immune system, improves detoxification, and enhances your own body’s anti-oxidant defenses. If you are inactive now, start slowly and build to 30 minutes a day of vigorous aerobic exercise like fast walking or jogging. Cleaning the house and being busy all day does NOT count. Interval training is an effective way to get in a good workout without spending an hour on the treadmill or elliptical if you’re short on time. Do 2-5 minutes warm up, then increase and decrease speed every minute for 20 minutes, and cool down a few minutes. Strength training 20 minutes 3 times a week is also helpful.
- There are supplements intended to boost the production of Glutathione. But you should know that taken orally, glutathione itself is just digested and is a big waste of money. It is beyond the scope of this blog to decide who can benefit but I help all my patients make these decisions and I help them find reputable sources of supplement. Consider a complimentary session if you think you’re health isn’t all it should be.