If you’re looking to give your health and well-being a substantial boost, you might want to consider glutathione, often referred to as GSH.
“Glutathione is a molecule that is found in every cell of the body and is made up of three amino acids [cysteine, glutamic acid and glycine] unite to make a single proteinsays Nayan Patel, Pharm.D., adjunct professor at the University of Southern California School of Pharmacy and author of The Glutathione Revolution: Fight Disease, Slow Aging, and Boost Energy. “And here’s what it does – it’s an antioxidant that quenches all free radicals before they get rid of them from your body.”
In fact, Patel calls glutathione “the world’s most important antioxidant” because it has the ability to neutralize toxic chemicals that we are regularly exposed to, such as heavy metals, cosmetics, and pollution. Yet, beginning around age 25, the body’s natural ability to produce glutathione begins to decline as these modern environmental stressors further deplete our levels.
“When oxidative stress [which is defined as an imbalance that leads to cell and tissue damage] gets too high in the body, then we start seeing all kinds of diseases: obesity, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, metabolic disorders, we can even go as far as cancer,” he says.
As for the good news, we can increase levels of this powerful antioxidant in a number of ways. “Glutathione is found naturally in proteins (like beef and poultry), green vegetables (like kale and spinach), and sulfur-rich cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage). of Brussels)”, declares Tasneem Bhatia, MD (“Dr. Taz”)founder and medical director of CentreSpringMD in Atlanta and author of Super Woman RX. Eating foods high in vitamin C, including citrus fruits, kiwi fruit and strawberries, may also increase glutathione levels, she adds.
Supplementation is another option. A randomized controlled trial published in the European Journal of Nutrition found that consuming 500–1000 mg of glutathione supplements daily may be effective in increasing GSH storage. There is also a patented topical antioxidant spray Dr. Patel created after years of clinical research.
“We discovered a water-based technology that delivers glutathione molecules directly to blood cells and can be used by the body immediately,” he explains. “I’m on a crusade to change people’s lives.”
Below, we highlight eight proven health benefits of this master antioxidant.
1. Reduces oxidative stress
According to an article published in the journal Nutrients, glutathione has been shown to be a “promising and exciting” treatment to combat cell and tissue damage. This research has shown that GSH supplementation of amino acids (including L-glycine) and micronutrients (including vitamin C, vitamin E and magnesium), as well as specific diets (vegetarian, Mediterranean diet and diet DASH) had the potential to increase glutathione concentrations, which slowed the rate of tissue deterioration. “Glutathione can reduce oxidative stress in the body and, therefore, may decrease the risk of cancer,” says Dr. Taz.
2. Helps Improve Insulin Levels
Higher levels of GSH may cause less stored belly fat, which may reduce the risk of certain types of diabetes, says Dr. Taz. Researchers from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, combined studies in older adults and older mice since both groups were deficient in glutathione, which is a common side effect of aging. Within two weeks of the volunteers being instructed to consume foods containing the amino acids cysteine and glycine, such as lentils and sunflower seeds, their ability to burn body fat jumped at a rate similar to that of the average young adult. (And yes, the mice had the same result.)
3. May Ease Side Effects of Type 2 Diabetes
The study authors brought together a small group of sedentary adults with Type 2 diabetes, as well as “severely deficient” glutathione levels, and infused them with cysteine and glycine dietary supplements over a two-week period. The results, published in the journal Diabetic treatmentsfound that supplementation restored GSH levels and reduced oxidative damage caused by high glucose levels.
4. Lowers the risk of heart disease
In an animal study Conducted at the University of Michigan Health System, scientists fed a grape-enriched diet to rats with hypertension (chronic high blood pressure) who were at high risk for heart failure. After 18 weeks, the authors found that the antioxidants in the fruit “turned on” antioxidant defense pathways, which ultimately increased the activity of genes that stimulate glutathione production. Additionally, the rats experienced fewer occurrences of heart muscle enlargement, as well as better diastolic function (the lower number of a blood pressure reading that indicates the pressure exerted by the blood against the walls of the arteries with each heartbeat).
5. May help the liver function
Glutathione can be an effective remedy for a liver that has been damaged by excessive alcohol consumption, says Dr. Taz. Medical researchers from Italy treated adults with alcoholic or non-alcoholic fatty liver disease with an intravenous infusion filled with high doses of GSH. Not only did both groups show “significant” improvements in levels of bilirubin (a substance made in the liver during the normal process of breaking down red blood cells that a healthy liver regularly clears) months after the trial ended , they also found a reduction in malondialdehyde. , a marker of cell damage in the liver.
6. Helps prevent obesity
“If the body lacks glutathione, environmental toxins metabolize in fatty tissue, which means the body will retain excess weight,” says Dr. Patel. According to a study published in the journal Experimental and therapeutic medicineadults who have been diagnosed with metabolic syndrome – a number of health conditions (such as high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high cholesterol, and large stature) that can increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke, as defined by the National Institutes of Health– and who initially tested with higher levels of glutathione showed greater reductions in body weight and body fat percentage after following a personalized healthy eating plan for six months.
7. May Help Fight Autoimmune Issues
“So while glutathione affects all metabolic disorders, that also includes autoimmune diseases,” says Dr. Patel. Research published in the journal Opinions on autoimmunity found a strong association between oxidative stress and apoptosis – a controlled process of cell death – in patients with lupus, an autoimmune disease where the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells and tissues. And glutathione depletion has been shown to be “closely related” to cell destruction.
8. Could help fight COVID-19
Baylor College of Medicine scientists compared blood samples from healthy adults before the pandemic to those of the same age who were hospitalized with COVID-19 – and patients with the virus (the youngest being 21) showed significantly increased levels of oxidative stress and oxidative damage, as well as markedly reduced levels of glutathione. Their findings, published in the journal Antioxidantssuggest supplementing those who test positive for COVID-19[feminine] with a combination of glutathione precursors (which has been shown in previous research to improve these levels, while reducing inflammation) may be an effective treatment. The researchers encourage future investigations with COVID-19 patients.
Glutathione Side Effects and Risks
The FDA (Food & Drug Administration) says glutathione is “generally recognized as safe”. However, it is important to keep in mind that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) states that the majority of supplements contain active ingredients that could cause a reaction.
A study found possible interactions in men taking glutathione as a skin treatment via an intravenous infusion, including liver problems or infertility, which is why the FDA warned the public about the dangers of an injectable skin lightening agent. Another study (where patients received both GSH and the oxidized form of GSSG) showed that a very small percentage of participants suffered from temporary liver problems or a rash.
“Most of the glutathione studies that are done used IV or oral glutathione, and the commonly used dose could range from 500 milligrams to 2 grams,” says Dr. Patel. “That’s because the absorption is rather low and it breaks down into various amino acids which might have a different side effect profile.”
Dr. Taz says people who are sensitive to sulfa drugs may get a glutathione rash. Dr. Patel agrees and adds that “once in a while” people who use his low-dose topical treatment (100 or 175 milligrams) will experience “a minor rash that clears up quickly.” These people should reduce the dose to better meet their needs, he advises.
Of course, if you think you are experiencing side effects from glutathione, be sure to contact a healthcare professional.
Dietary supplements are products intended to supplement the diet. They are not medicines and are not intended to treat, diagnose, mitigate, prevent or cure any disease. Be careful when taking dietary supplements if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Also, be careful when giving supplements to a child unless their healthcare professional recommends it.
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