When this antioxidant is low, it has been shown to put you at a higher risk for SARS-CoV-2-induced oxidative damage of the lung and, as a result, leads to serious manifestations, such as acute respiratory distress syndrome, multi-organ failure, and death in COVID-19 patients. It also has been shown to prevent age-related diseases such as Alzheimers, cardiovascular disease, auto-immune disease and more.
What is it? Glutathione!
IT’S THE MOST IMPORTANT MOLECULE you need to stay healthy and prevent disease, yet you’ve probably never heard of it. It’s the secret to prevent aging, cancer, heart disease. dementia, and more, and necessary to treat everything from autism to Alzheimer’s disease. There are more than 89,000 medical articles about it, but your doctor doesn’t know how to address the epidemic deficiency of this critical life-giving molecule.
Good News and Bad News
There is something you can do about it without taking medicine and your own body produces it. The bad news is, diet, toxins, genetics, stress, aging, chemicals such as chemotherapy and pharmaceuticals, and radiation therapy, all deplete you of glutathione.
What is Glutathione?
Glutathione is a very simple molecule that is produced naturally all the time in your body. It is a combination of three simple building blocks of protein or amino acids — cysteine, glycine, and glutamine.
Its power lies in its sulfur compounds. You’ve probably been somewhere where you have smelled sulfur, near a hot spring for example, it’s stinky! It’s also “sticky” in the body and free radicals and toxins like heavy metals stick to it.
Normally glutathione is recycled in the body, except when the toxic load becomes too great. And that explains why we are in such trouble, not only with COVID but our level of chronic disease in the United States.
In my practice, I test the genes involved in glutathione metabolism. These are the genes involved in producing enzymes that allow the body to create and recycle glutathione in the body. These genes have many names, such as GSTM1, GSTP1, and more. It is remarkable how many folks have mutations in this gene pathway. When you combine that with poor “autophagy” genes (the garbage men of your cells), you have a recipe for higher inflammation, higher cancer risk, heart disease, auto-immune disease, age-related cognitive decline, and more.
These genes are impaired in people for many reasons over the thousands of years mankind has been on this planet. We evolved in a time before the 80,000 toxic industrial chemicals were found in our world. Before electromagnetic radiation was everywhere and the food, water, and air that we breathe was contaminated. That’s why we survived so long up until now, with little of the chronic disease that we see. What usually killed us were viruses, bacteria, wild animals, and other humans.
Glutathione is the recycler of antioxidants in the body. You are bombarded with 100,000’s of free radicals, attacking every cell, every day. Bruce Ames, who is in the Orthomolecular Hall of Fame, many years ago (and was ridiculed for it) stated that every cell in our body gets hit with 100,000 free radicals every day. This research was done in the 1990’s when we didn’t have all the chemicals we have today!
We desperately need antioxidants to neutralize all these free radicals. Dealing with free radicals is like handing off a “hot potato.” They get passed around from Vitamin C to Vitamin E to Lipoic Acid and then finally to glutathione which cools off the fire of the free radical and recycles other antioxidants to be used in the cycle again. After this happens, the body can “reduce” or regenerate another protective glutathione molecule and you are back in business.
Glutathione is also important in helping your immune system function properly. An immune response creates inflammation and creates by-products, like dead tissue, when it is activated. Glutathione helps the body “detox” this dead tissue and also helps lower inflammation.
Glutathione’s research has shown that it also can help with peak mental and physical function. It has been shown to decrease muscle damage, reduce recovery time from injuries, increase strength and endurance, and even shift the metabolism from fat production to muscle production.
The British journal, the Lancet, found the highest glutathione levels in healthy young people, lower levels in healthy aging populations, and still lower levels in the elderly who were sick. The lowest of all were the elderly who were hospitalized.
Optimizing Your Glutathione Levels
Eat Foods that Support Glutathione Production
- Cruciferous Family – sulfur-rich foods are garlic, onions, broccoli, kale, collards, cabbage, cauliflower, watercress, etc. These foods give your body the raw materials to make glutathione.
- Whey Protein – This is a source of the amino acid cysteine. Cysteine is a building block for glutathione synthesis. It’s important to buy a bioactive whey that is made from non-denatured proteins. Choose a non-pasteurized and grass-fed and organic if possible, sourced whey protein powder.
- Exercise – exercise boosts your glutathione levels and that in turn boosts your immune system, improves your detoxification, and enhances your body’s own antioxidant army. Include aerobic exercise as well as strength training exercise to get the best benefits.
- Taking a straight Glutathione supplement is not going to give you all the benefits you are looking for, since the body digests proteins. As mentioned above, the production and recycling of glutathione requires many different nutrients.
- N-acetyl-cysteine, or NAC, is a precursor to making glutathione and can be taken in supplement form.
- Alpha Lipoic Acid, is a close second to glutathione in importance in our cells and is involved in energy production, blood sugar control, brain health, and detoxification.
- Methylation nutrients, folate, B6, and B12 are the most critical to keep the body producing glutathione, Methylation and the production and recycling of glutathione are the two most important biochemical functions in your body. Over 40% of our population have significant genetic mutations in the methylation pathway. Take folate (especially in the active form of 5 methyltetrahydrofolate), B6 (in the active form of P5P), and B12 (in the active form of methylcobalamin).
- Selenium is an important nutrient that helps the body recycle and produce more glutathione. Two Brazil nuts a day contain 200mcg of selenium, the suggested amount to take daily.
- The antioxidant family of nutrients is very important as mentioned above. Vitamin C and vitamin E work together to recycle glutathione. Take a complete vitamin E that contains all 4 tocopherols and 4 tocotrienols.
- Milk Thistle has been used as liver support for hundreds of years. You can take this in capsule or tea form. It also helps boost glutathione production.
- Glutathione IVs are available at many medical clinics around the country. This is a powerful way to get a good dose of glutathione into a severly health compromised body. The company that certified me as a Nutragenomics practitioner, GX Sciences in Austin Texas, often recommends this for folks that have severe, chronic health issues.
After reading all this, we would think glutathione is the miracle answer to all diseases! There is no one “magic bullet” to prevent disease and slow aging, but glutathione comes darn close.
The evidence is stacking up that those who are low in glutathione will have a much higher risk of COVID complications, neurological diseases, chronic age-related diseases, and auto-immune disorders.
- Endogenous Deficiency of Glutathione as the Most Likely Cause of Serious Manifestations and Death in COVID-19 Patients, ACS Infect Dis 2020 Jul 10;6(7):1558-1562. doi: 10.1021/acsinfecdis.0c00288. Epub 2020 May 28.
- International Society of Orthomolecular Medicine, https://isom.ca/profile/bruce-ames/
- Essential Glutathione: The Mother of All Antioxidants, https://drhyman.com/blog/2010/05/19/glutathione-the-mother-of-all-antioxidants/?mc_cid=a947dba38f&mc_eid=5d2ec7bf90
- Whey protein supplementation can increase glutathione levels and improve nutritional status and immunity in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, https://www.greenmedinfo.com/article/whey-protein-supplementation-can-increase-glutathione-levels-and-improve-nutri
- The Role of Glutathione in Protecting against the Severe Inflammatory Response Triggered by COVID-19, https://www.greenmedinfo.com/article/role-glutathione-protecting-against-severe-inflammatory-response-triggered-cov
- NAC’s Crucial Role in Preventing and Treating COVID-19, November 10, 2020,https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2020/11/10/coronavirus-n-acetylcysteine.aspx