(NaturalHealth365) Sulfur is a mineral that is present in every cell of the body. It plays a key role in liver metabolism, the function of joint cartilage and the creation of keratin in our skin and hair. It is also critical for metabolism and antioxidant defense systems that protect the aging patterns of the brain.
Some of the healthiest cultures in the world have the highest levels of sulfur in their diet, while United States citizens have some of the lowest levels on the planet.
Icelanders are known for their low rates of depression, obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Researchers are attributing much of this to the line of volcanoes that formed the island nation. These volcanoes are full of sulfur ash which blankets the soil after an eruption. This enriches the ground and makes drinking water, produce and meat products contain a dense supply of sulfur.
The problem with modern farming
Over the last 2 decades, the U.S. farming industry has shifted into highly technologized mega farms. These farms are entirely focused on producing high yields per acre and thus they have depleted many vital nutrients – such as sulfur – from the ground.
In addition, unfortunately, these farmers also apply artificial fertilizers to the soil. These fertilizers are enriched in phosphates and very low in sulfur. And, to top things off, these excess phosphates interfere with sulfur absorption.
Sulfur amino acids are extremely important for the maintenance and integrity of the cellular systems. They strongly influence the ability to manufacture glutathione and the capacity to neutralize free radicals, reactive oxygen species and detoxify poisonous compounds. Could our diet be deficient in these critical amino acids?
How can I boost my glutathione levels?
There are 2 sulfur containing amino acids; cysteine and methionine. They are not stored in the body. Any dietary surplus is oxidized to sulfate and excreted in the urine or is stored as glutathione (GSH).
Glutathione is one of the bodies most important antioxidants. Lowered GSH levels are associated with degenerative disease, lowered immunity, and toxic build-up. Cysteine levels appear to be the rate limiting factor for the synthesis of GSH.
The internal triage system of the body typically spares the brain since it is the most critical organ. However, in cases of low sulfur containing amino acids, the brain will deplete its stores of GSH in order to maintain cysteine levels. This reduces the brain’s antioxidant defenses and accelerates degenerative processes.
Why is sulfur so important for my overall health?
Sulfur plays a very important role in joint, cartilage, skin and blood vessel formation through the glycosaminoglycan (GAG) compounds. Some of the familiar GAG compounds include glucosamine, heparan sulfate and chondroitin sulfate. When sulfur levels are depleted the body is unable to replace the old and inferior GAG molecules in the joints.
With inadequate repair materials the joints, blood vessels and skin cells degenerate at a faster rate.
Sulfation is a critical detoxification pathway in the liver. This is particularly necessary to detoxify pharmaceutical drugs such as acetaminophen. The sulfation process of detoxification depletes the body of sulfur containing amino acids. This is why individuals taking pharmaceutical medications need even more dietary sulfur.
The best way to get sulfur into the diet
The best plant foods for sulfur are found in the allium family – which is high in allyl sulfides and sulfoxides. These include onions, garlic, leeks, shallots and chives. The cruciferous vegetable family has sulfur containing isothiocyanates that are potent cancer fighters. These foods include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussel sprouts, radishes, watercress, kale and collard greens.
Animal foods rich in sulfur containing amino acids include organic eggs, wild-caught fish and grass-fed beef. Raw dairy from grass-fed cows (particularly sulfur rich grass) is a great source of sulfur containing amino acids. Non-denatured whey protein from grass-fed cows is the richest source of sulfur containing amino acids.
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About the author: Dr. David Jockers owns and operates Exodus Health Center in Kennesaw, Ga. He is a Maximized Living doctor. His expertise is in weight loss, customized nutrition & exercise, & structural corrective chiropractic care. For more information – visit: DrJockers.com. Dr. Jockers is also available for long distance phone consultations to help you beat disease and reach your health goals.
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