Glutathione (not glutamine or glucosamine), is a term you might have heard tossed around lately. But as all things wellness continue to capture the public imagination, the basic understanding of this term is still lacking.
If you’re already familiar, you might know glutathione in the context of detoxification: most people think of it as a hangover cure. And while it is great for hangovers, it can also do a lot more work.
Glutathione is a compound of three amino acids naturally produced by the body, and functions as the body’s main antioxidant. It has many roles in anti-aging and immune health, as well as in detoxification. Its role is so critical that it’s quite possibly the secret to maintaining youth and wellness. Because of this major role in aging, having optimal levels is key for preventing chronic diseases that are often chalked up to “the normal aging process.”
THE GLUTATHIONE BASICS
Glutathione is an important part of the natural detoxification system for two reasons: it helps the body get rid of the bad stuff (toxic waste) and it recycles the good stuff (antioxidants). It also helps the immune system defend the body against infections and cancer. Optimal levels not only help keep you healthy but also positively effect mental and physical performance by increasing strength and endurance.
Deficiencies of glutathione are often seen in patients with chronic conditions such as chronic infections, autoimmune diseases, heart disease, liver disease and even cancer. Lower levels of glutathione get in the way of proper detoxification and elimination of wastes in the body, which could result in multiple chemical and food sensitivities, fatigue, pain, digestive issues, skin conditions and more. There are different tests that can be done to check your body’s levels, such as micronutrient testing or genetic testing to look at the function of genes that produce glutathione.
The problem lies in maintaining optimal levels in the midst of so much pollution and oxidative stress (from poor diet, stress, environmental toxins, medications, infections) which deplete glutathione levels.
REPLENISH & MAINTAIN
So, how do we replenish and maintain? Well, it’s not as simple as going to your nearest health food store and buying a glutathione supplement. In fact, you should know that glutathione should not be taken in a pill form or orally because it’s poorly absorbed (as a compound of amino acids, it just gets digested). Some more effective ways to take it include topically, intramuscularly or intravenously—all of which bypass the digestive system. There are also dietary and lifestyle adjustments you can make to increase your glutathione levels naturally.
LIFESTYLE CHANGES TO INCREASE GLUTATHIONE LEVELS
2.Supplement with the compounds to form and recycle glutathione such as: n-acetyl cysteine (NAC), antioxidant vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin E; all of these are great supplements that can be taken daily.
3. Consuming sulfur-rich foods such as garlic and onions regularly; when making a stir fry throw in garlic and onions for added flavor and health benefits. Tip: chop your garlic and let it sit for about 15 minutes before cooking; this allows for the release of the enzyme that forms cysteine to be formed (which is a pre-cursor to glutathione!)
4. Consuming cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, brussels sprouts and watercress regularly. Trader Joe’s carries convenient, ready to cook bags of sliced/chopped broccoli and brussels sprouts.
5. Increasing fiber intake to aid detoxification and lessen the liver’s toxic burden. Some great sources of fiber include apples with the skin, brown rice, artichokes, okra and flax seeds.
6. My favorite way to get everything in all at once: smoothies with a greens powder, dark berries, flax and chia seeds in a base of nut milk and protein of choice. This provides antioxidants, fiber, protein—all helpful in boosting glutathione and aiding detoxification.
FIND BEAUTY AND WELLNESS EXPERTS
Learn more about the Charlotte’s Book experts. Read client reviews, book appointments, and get expert advice. Only the best cosmetic doctors, skincare gurus, nutritionists, fitness and wellness professionals make it into our book.