We hear much to do about antioxidants, eat your colorful fruits and vegetables, six servings per day! But what exactly are antioxidants, why should we eat them, and are there some that are super antioxidants?
What is an Antioxidant?
I like to think of antioxidants as the fireman and police officers of my body. By now most of us know that inflammation is bad for us. It accelerates aging, causes cognitive decline, lowers our immune system, causes degeneration in joints, and causes pain, no fun.
Antioxidants are your “fireman” for putting out the fire of inflammation. They are very sacrificial, giving up one of their electrons to try and stabilize the situation. They also act as a policeman on patrol, searching for “bad” cells that are not acting correctly, like a cancer cell that won’t stop growing. Of course, they are loaded with immune-building phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals as well.
Where Can We Find Them?
As I mentioned above, we are told to eat our colorful fruits and vegetables, and lot’s of them because they are loaded with not only vitamins and minerals, but antioxidants.
They are also found in green tea, black tea, coffee, red wine, and chocolate, hallelujah! The juices of the fruits high in antioxidants, such as pomegranate, cherry, and Acai juice, are also great sources of these powerful plant nutrients.
Unfortunately, our food source of antioxidants has declined over the past few decades. The average person eats one vegetable and one fruit a day. Not only that, these are rarely organic. Big agriculture with its factory farms that use toxic fertilizers and pesticides are not making a tomato like a grandma use to grow. These fruits and vegetables have a very minimal amount of antioxidants in them compared to one hundred years ago.
Consider using the Environmental Working Groups website www.ewg.org to download the Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen food lists to guide you on which fruits and vegetables to buy organically. Incorporate at least 3 vegetables and three fruits per day into your diet, even more, if possible.
You Want to Make This Super Antioxidant?
Have you ever heard of glutathione? With the advent of the SARS-COV-2 virus, we are starting to hear a little more about its importance. The most important thing to know is your own body makes it if given the tools to do so. Yes, you can supplement with glutathione, but it doesn’t come close to the strength that your production can make.
Glutathione is often referred to as the master antioxidant. The reason why is it can regenerate the other antioxidants in the body and help recycle them so they can be used again. It’s a small protein found in virtually all your cells and is used for detoxification and building your immune system.
The glutathione molecule is made up of three amino acids: cysteine, glycine, and glutamate. These amino acids act as glutathione “precursors,” and effectively increase the body’s production of glutathione. One of the most studied glutathione precursors is cysteine.
Cysteine is abundant in many foods such as eggs, soybean, lentils, chicken, turkey, and fish. The body can make cysteine from the amino said methionine so it’s not considered one of the essential amino acids. However, some things can interfere with the production of cysteine.
Aging for one is a slowing down of all body systems, cysteine production is one of those. Poor methylation can also interfere with production. People with high blood sugars and high blood pressure may need more cysteine. Those with diets low in antioxidants, poor nutritional status, on pharmaceutical medications, high stress, and daily alcohol use, will have an interruption in the manufacturing of glutathione.
What is N-acetylcysteine? (NAC)
Maybe you have heard of NAC since the advent of SARS-COV-2 has come on the scene. It’s one of those supplements that has been hard to keep in stock because so many people are buying it, but why?
Even though supplementing directly with glutathione is not as effective as making your own, supplementing with NAC gives your body the precursor so it can make its glutathione.
The reason so many people are buying up NAC is the support it gives the body to prevent an infection. Along with that, NAC is very powerful for the lungs in helping thin the bronchial mucous, which becomes very thick if COVID is present.
NAC is also being used to “detox” from the COVID-19 shot. Since glutathione it is our primary inter-cellular detoxifier, making as much as you can to help the body detox is essential.
I would suggest 500mg daily for prevention and support and if you have COVID or have taken the shot and feel you have side effects, increase that to 500mg twice daily.
What About Food?
Since all fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants we want a diet rich in them, but certain ones are great precursors for making our glutathione. These come from the family of sulfur-containing foods.
- Bok choy
- Brussel sprouts
- Collard Greens
- Mustard greens
We want to have foods in our diet that help our pathway to methylate correctly. Part of that pathway requires methionine, the precursor to glutathione. These are some of the foods that will help your body methylate well.
- Garbanzo beans
- Black-eyed peas
Selenium is a micro-mineral but essential as a foundation to make glutathione. Here are a few foods to include in your weekly diet that are high in selenium.
- Brazil nuts (2 per day give you the RDA)
- Grass-fed beef
- Beef liver
Even though there are no foods per se, that will give you glutathione directly, there are many things you can do to help your body make its own glutathione.
Here are the top 9 foods and supplements that will support your body’s production.
- Milk Thistle
- Whey protein (grass-fed)
- High sulfur foods
- N-acetyl cysteine (NAC)
- Alpha Lipoic Acid
- Methylation rich foods
- Selenium rich foods
- Vitamins C and E
- Beef Liver
Not only will you be boosting glutathione production with these supportive foods and supplements, but you will also be lowering inflammation, increasing immune function, detoxifying at the cellular level, supporting liver detox, and creating a body that cancer does not like to live in!
- Glutathione: Top 9 Foods and Supplements, Dr. Josh Axe, DC, DNM, CN, August 31, 2018, https://draxe.com/nutrition/glutathione/
- 10 Researched Based Benefits of Glutathione and NCA, Smith, Adan MS,
- August 26, 2020,https://www.nordicnaturals.com/healthy-science/benefits-of-glutathione-and-nac/