Glutathione plays a number of significant roles within the body. It is our key antioxidant, which means that it helps to counter the free radical damage that can affect our cells. It is our brain’s primary antioxidant. This is significant as our brain uses the majority of our oxygen and therefore creates the most free radicals of any organ or system.
Glutathione is one of our most important nutrients, with many roles in the body. We all make glutathione naturally – however, in our modern world, with so much pollution, toxicity, chronic stress and chronic illness – there is a higher demand for glutathione and we can easily find our stores depleted. Read on to find out why glutathione is so important, and 3 ways to boost glutathione levels naturally.
It also is a natural heavy metal chelator, helping to detoxify toxins such as mercury, lead and aluminum. Again, those toxins can cause major issues in the brain and other tissues of the body, so we want to be constantly trying to cleanse them as we go.
Glutathione plays a big role in liver detoxification. Phase 1 liver detoxification is where the body changes the nature of the chemical or toxin; and phase 2 liver detoxification is when the body adds additional molecules to toxins, making them water soluble and allowing for their excretion from the body. Glutathione S-transferases are a set of phase 2 enzymes that contribute to this process.
In terms of boosting our glutathione levels, there are a number of ways to do that. These are three of the primary ones I utilize:
- Liposomal glutathione
Many glutathione supplements contain “reduced glutathione”, usually in a capsule form. The problem with this is that this is not a well-absorbed form of glutathione; it is rapidly broken down in the gut, preventing it from entering the cells intact. Liposomal glutathione, on the other hand, is created in such a way that it absorbs through the mucous membranes which is a more direct route into the cells. “Liposomal” means that the molecule is coated with a lipid bilayer; and since cell membranes are made up of lipids, this allows for better absorption across the membrane and into the cell. The majority of liposomal glutathione products are liquids, although there are some in softgel form. I always feel the liquids absorb better. My favorite liposomal glutathione is a liquid – it comes in plain, watermelon and orange flavors.
2. Nrf2 Activation
One way to boost natural glutathione production is to activate the pathways in your own cells to “switch on” antioxidant functions. When we activate Nrf2 pathways within our cells, we are boosting our own glutathione production by up to 300%. This also triggers other antioxidant pathways, and we see a reduction in overall oxidative stress of up to 40% in 30 days, and 70% in 60 days.
What I like about this approach is that instead of just putting more “stuff” into our body, Nrf2 activation is about powering up the cells from within. It literally switches on the genes that protect and heal our cells by reducing free radical damage, boosts glutathione and opens up detox pathways. Also, since Nrf2 activation helps with gene regulation and expression, it can be a more gentle way to boost glutathione for those with gene mutations that may prevent them from tolerating glutathione supplements (such as CBS and SUOX).
My favorite Nrf2 activation product can be found here. If you are new to Nrf2 activation, shoot me a quick message and I will add you to a private education group on Facebook that provides a ton more info.
3. Whey Protein
Whey protein is another natural way to boost glutathione levels. Whey protein is a rich source of cysteine, which is one of the amino acids required to make glutathione (glutamine and glycine being the other two).
But I hear you saying, “But I thought dairy wasn’t good for us?” Well, yes and no.
Dairy products have two main proteins – whey and casein. Casein is more inflammatory and allergenic. The majority of time, when people have problems with dairy it’s the casein they are reacting to. Casein is also the compound that can create the peptides that bind to opioid receptors in the brain, which can lead to “addictive” behaviors, learning and behavioral issues and mood dysregulation.
A high-quality isolated whey protein extract will not contain casein, and therefore many more people can tolerate it. Granted, there still may be some that react poorly to whey protein and need to avoid it. In a perfect world, we’d have IgG food sensitivity testing, which differentiates between different components of dairy and gives us exact, personalized information to act as a guide. You can find my favorite whey protein here.
In summary, glutathione depletion has been associated with many varied health conditions. It is something that we must be aware of for long-term health and vitality. You can see the wide range of issues it has been associated with below.
I believe that everyone can benefit from Nrf2 activation for many different reasons, it’s a quick, simple way to boost antioxidants and reduce oxidative stress while supporting detoxification. For general health and longevity, that’s what I recommend.
People struggling with chronic illness, with a much-increased demand, may do well with a combination of Nrf2 activation and liposomal glutathione supplementation – both are just once-a-day formulas so not too complicated. Whey protein is an added bonus, as are other glutathione-boosting tricks such as coffee enemas.