Supplementing with glutathione daily fights degenerative disease, study reveals
(NaturalHealth365) Roughly one out of every three Americans is now suffering from a degenerative disease like, heart disease (which kills over 620,000 people every year) or cancer (deaths from which are expected to top 630,000 by 2020).
Several researchers speculate that the widespread occurrence of these diseases is due to a deficiency in glutathione – a natural antioxidant produced in the body.
Inextricably linked to health and longevity, glutathione is a disease-fighting natural chemical that protects cells, reduces oxidative stress, neutralizes toxins and even helps to boost the immune system. Unfortunately, as we age, glutathione levels plunge – which increases our risk of degenerative disease.
Avoid the risk of degenerative disease by increasing your glutathione levels
Glutathione, which is composed of a trio of amino acids (glycine, glutamine and cysteine), is found in every cell in the body – with particularly high concentrations in the liver, where it is produced.
One of the most important functions of glutathione is that it binds to, and neutralizes, harmful free radicals – which otherwise would produce oxidative stress and trigger disease. It also detoxifies pollutants and carcinogens and helps to speed up their excretion from the body.
In addition, glutathione enhances and supports the function of T-cells – which are needed for an effective immune system – and assists with DNA repair, thus reducing the chance of cancer-causing mutations.
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It also helps to transport mercury (a toxic, heavy metal) from the brain.
Finally, glutathione helps to “tweak” metabolism, discouraging the formation of fat while supporting and promoting the development of lean muscle. Recent studies have illustrated the various therapeutic benefits of glutathione, from improving insulin sensitivity to reducing damage from ulcerative colitis.
Interesting to note: A clinical trial published last year in BMC Gastroenterology concluded that supplementation with glutathione can even help treat nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, which is currently reaching epidemic proportions in the United States.
Noted physician says: Low glutathione is linked with “all” degenerative diseases
As evidence of glutathione’s powers continues to accumulate, researchers are beginning to sound the alarm on the dangers of being deficient.
Dr. Mark Hyman, the Medical Director at Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Functional Medicine, makes a particularly eye-opening claim, reporting that “virtually all patients suffering from chronic degenerative disease” (including those with cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, arthritis, autoimmune disease and Alzheimer’s disease) are “deficient in glutathione.”
Research has shown that shortfalls in glutathione can impair immune system function, increase vulnerability to pathogens and – of course – lead to the cellular damage that triggers disease.
The association between low glutathione and Alzheimer’s disease is especially strong. A recent study of Alzheimer’s patients has revealed greatly reduced glutathione levels in the brain – particularly in the frontal cortex and in the hippocampus, which is responsible for learning and memory.
In a separate study, researchers found that glutathione deficiency raises the risk of heart attack by a substantial 30 percent. Unfortunately, there are many “culprits” waiting to threaten the body’s glutathione supplies.
These include pharmaceutical and over-the-counter medications, poor diet, physical and emotional stress, infection, injury and exposure to environmental toxins.
Making matters worse is the fact that glutathione levels – normally optimal in young people – decrease inevitably with age. In fact, by age 70, many adults only have 50 percent of the glutathione levels needed to maintain health!
Study: Glutathione helps “put the brakes” on cellular damage and oxidative stress
A recent randomized, double-blind study published in the peer-reviewed European Journal of Nutrition has highlighted the beneficial effects of glutathione supplementation.
To conduct the study, researchers randomly divided a group 54 adult volunteers into three sections, then gave one group 250 mg of glutathione a day and another group 1,000 mg a day. (A third group received a placebo).
The oral supplementation caused substantial increases in the glutathione levels in red blood cells, white blood cells and lymph cells – and almost tripled levels in buccal (mouth) cells. Significantly, higher glutathione levels have been linked with a lowered risk of mouth cancer.
But even more encouraging were the measurable reductions in oxidative stress, which decreased by 10 percent in the 250 mg group and over 17 percent in the 1,000 mg group.
The team called for more study to further explore the potential therapeutic benefits of glutathione supplementation. Scientists have commented that this research may make it easier to treat diseases associated with reduced glutathione levels – such as HIV/AIDS infection.
Health alert: Proper nutrition is a “must” for efficient glutathione production
Although the study showed that glutathione levels can indeed be boosted with supplementation, most natural health experts don’t recommend rushing out and buying just a bottle of glutathione – and ignoring the importance of a healthy diet.
In addition, not all brands or formulations of synthetic (low quality) glutathione may be effective, and scientists are still studying how glutathione supplements affect the body.
Instead, experts continue to advise raising glutathione levels through dietary means, first.
The most effective technique? Eating foods rich in the amino acids that your body needs for the assembly of glutathione.
Foods high in sulphur – including cruciferous vegetables like kale, Brussels sprouts and broccoli – are important for the production of cysteine, a vital glutathione precursor. Vegetables in the allium family, such as onions, garlic, leeks and chives, can also help you ramp up your cysteine levels and spur the production of glutathione.
Whey protein is a superb source of cysteine and helps in the production of glutathione. To learn more about the health benefits of whey protein – check out our “special report” on whey protein, exclusively prepared for NaturalHealth365 readers.
Experts also advise eating foods high in vitamin C – found in citrus fruits, strawberries, red peppers and kiwifruit – vitamin E, found in almonds, spinach and sunflower seeds, and folate – found in chickpeas, pinto beans and lentils. All of these nutrients help to recycle and utilize glutathione in the body.
A variety of natural supplements can also help boost glutathione production.
In an important study published in European Journal of Clinical Investigation, researchers found that N-acetyl cysteine drastically replenished stores of glutathione in patients with HIV/AID infection.
And alpha-lipoic acid, the “sleep hormone” melatonin, milk thistle and the antioxidant mineral selenium have all been found to increase glutathione as well.
As always, discuss supplementation with your knowledgeable integrative physician first.
Every day, we are faced with an onslaught of pollutants, stressors, pathogens and toxins – both man-made and natural – that can trigger the development of deadly diseases. Glutathione, the “front line” of our antioxidant defense systems, is in the business of combating them.
It only makes sense to safeguard and promote levels of the body’s “master antioxidant.”
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Sources for this article include: