June 03 2021
What can glutathione do for your health?
Glutathione, the antioxidant produced in our cells is made up of three amino acids, namely: glutamine, glycine and cysteine.
The levels of glutathione tend to decrease with poor nutrition, stress and toxins in the environment. Also, the glutathione levels decrease with age.
Though glutathione is produced naturally in our body in some conditions, it can be given intravenously, typically or as an inhalant. Apart from that, oral supplements in the form of capsules and liquids are also available. However, it is believed that oral glutathione is not as effective as that given by the intravenous route.
Glutathione reduces oxidative stress
What is oxidative stress? Well, when the number of free radicals in our body increases to an extent that our body is unable to find against them then the condition is called oxidative stress. The oxidative stress in high levels can cause many diseases like diabetes, cancer and rheumatoid arthritis.
According to the article published in Journal of cancer science and therapy, the deficiency of glutathione can result in an increased level of oxidative stress. And this, in turn, can result in cancer. Also, it stated that increased levels of glutathione raise antioxidant levels as well as resistance to oxidative stress in cancer cells.
Glutathione improves psoriasis
A small study showed that whey protein when taken orally can improve the condition of psoriasis. Whey protein is believed to increase glutathione levels.
Glutathione reduces cell damage in liver disease
The deficiency of antioxidants like glutathione can lead to cell death in the liver. This results in fatty liver disease in the ones who misuse alcohol and the one who don't. In people with alcoholic and non alcoholic chronic fatty liver disease, glutathione is believed to improve protein, enzyme and bilirubin levels in the blood.
The study suggested that glutathione when given intravenously in high dose to people with fatty liver disease is quite effective. Also, it showed a reduction in a marker of cell damage in the liver called malondialdehyde. Another study showed that when glutathione was taken orally impacted people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in a positive manner. However, these participants followed proactive lifestyle changes as well.
Glutathione improves insulin resistance in older people
With age, our body produces less glutathione. Researchers at Baylor School of Medicine did a study to explore the role of glutathione in weight management and insulin resistance in elderly people. The study concluded that low levels of glutathione were linked to less fat burning and higher stores of fat in our body.
The older subjects were given cysteine and glycine in their diet to increase the levels of glutathione. After two weeks, the participants experienced improved insulin resistance and fat burning.
Glutathione, helps in peripheral artery diseases
So what happens in peripheral arterial diseases is that the peripheral arteries become clogged with plaques. Mostly it is seen in the legs. It has been studied that glutathione improves circulation and hence increases mobility for people with peripheral artery disease.
Glutathione help in Parkinson's disease
Parkinson's disease is a disease of the central nervous system. You get to see many symptoms in the disease like tremors and rigidity. Currently, there is no cure for Parkinson's. One study documented the positive effects of glutathione on symptoms like tremors and rigidity. Nevertheless, more research is needed to conclude that glutathione improves the quality of life for people with Parkinson's disease.
Glutathione help to fight against autoimmune disorders
In various autoimmune diseases, chronic inflammation is seen. This leads to an increase in oxidative stress. Such diseases include celiac disease, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus etc. Glutathione stimulates or reduces the body's immunological response thereby reducing oxidative stress. In some autoimmune diseases, mitochondria in cells are being attacked. Glutathione eliminates free radical and protects the cell mitochondria.
Glutathione, helps with autism
Studies including the clinical trial indicate that children with autism experience high levels of oxidative damage. Also, low glutathione has been found in their brain. As a result, these children become more susceptible to neurological damage.
A clinical trial of eight weeks used oral or transdermal applications of glutathione in children aged 3 to 13 years Children showed improvement in cysteine, plasma sulfate and blood glutathione levels.
Glutathione, reduces the impact of uncontrolled diabetes
It has been found that long term high blood sugar is linked with low levels of glutathione. This results in oxidative stress and thereby tissue damage. As per the study, dietary supplementation with cysteine and glycine boost glutathione levels. Also, it has been observed that glutathione lowers oxidative stress and damage in people with uncontrolled diabetes.
Glutathione reduces respiratory disease symptoms
In respiratory diseases like asthma and cystic fibrosis, often a medication called N acetylcysteine is used. The inhaled form helps to make the mucus thin and reduces inflammation. Now, this n acetyl cysteine is a byproduct of glutathione.
Glutathione is found in various foods however its levels are significantly diminished with cooking and pasteurisation. Glutathione is found in raw meat, unpasteurized milk, fresh fruits and vegetables like avocado and asparagus and other unpasteurized dairy products.
Glutathione contains sulfur molecules and that is the reason why food high in sulfur tends to increase the production of glutathione in the body. Such foods include eggs, broccoli, cauliflower, garlic, onion, nuts, legumes, fish, and chicken.
Following are some other food that boosts the level of glutathione naturally;
- milk thistle
- Another natural way to maintain the glutathione levels in the body is to have a proper sleep and rest. This is because glutathione is negatively affected by insomnia.
Side effects and risks associated with glutathione
If your diet is rich in glutathione boosting foods then you won't experience any side effects. However, taking supplements higher dose can have certain side effects and is not advisable for all. You should talk to your doctor before beginning with a glutathione supplement. Some of the side effects of the supplement include abdominal cramps, rash or other allergic reaction, bloating and breathing issues due to bronchial constriction.