Glutathione is certainly the most important antioxidant on a cellular level. It occurs naturally in all organisms, whether they are mono or multicellular. In humans, it represents the first and most powerful antioxidant molecular system.
The limit for the bioavailability of glutathione in humans is linked to the fact that the enzymatic systems of the digestive system, blood, liver barrier destroy it rapidly even if it is found in all foods combined with other antioxidant substances.
What is glutathione and what is it used for?
Chemically it is a complex molecule generated by the union of three smaller molecules and precisely from three amino acids, which constitute the building blocks of which all proteins are made, and which are: glycine, cysteine and glutamic acid. Technically it is defined as a tripeptide, while any protein consisting of a more or less long sequence can be called a poly-peptide.
We now introduce the concept of oxidative stress. There are molecules such as oxygen and free radicals that have a strong tendency to react chemically. This reactivity for biological systems is dangerous. For example, iron objects if left exposed to air or water oxidize rapidly just like biological systems when exposed to oxygen and free radicals, the result is their destruction.
Glutathione is responsible for neutralizing these hyper-reactive elements in order to avoid the resulting damage. Since in biological chemistry (of living systems) many free radicals are formed and introduced through food (or substances that eventually generate them), we can imagine the importance of antioxidant systems, they oppose cell degradation and ultimately aging.
Since glutathione is present ubiquitously in nature and in food, there should be no food shortage problems on the part of the human body; in reality it is not so since the glutathione introduced with food is practically digested and reduced to its components, and this therefore does not allow to maintain a good level of blood concentration, therefore there is a poor bioavailability.
Even glutathione-based supplements undergo the same destructive processes and therefore are of little use in general as there is a gastric, blood and hepatic barrier and the little glutathione that manages to pass into the bloodstream quickly decays. So the glutathione present in the body is practically that of endogenous origin. It is in fact manufactured inside the cells starting from the three amino acids that make it up, namely glycine, cysteine and glutamic acid.
How can we increase Glutathione levels?
1. With foods rich in sulfur.
For several years it has been correlated how amino acid deficiencies in the liver and kidneys correspond to low levels of glutathione. One of the best ways to avoid such deficiencies is to eat, for example, vegetables belonging to the cruciferous family as they are rich in sulfur, but also in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
Among these foods we include:
• Black cabbage
• Brussels sprouts
2. Milk thistle.
Milk thistle is an ancient natural remedy that has long been used for problems related to the immune system. It is appreciated for its content of silymarin, a flavonoid derived from this medicinal herb that is still used today for various disorders of the liver and biliary tract.
3. Vitamins and minerals.
There are several micronutrient and macronutrient deficiencies that can impact glutathione levels. Leading a balanced diet and supplementing with those vitamins and minerals that we may be lacking is undoubtedly one of the most effective ways to help glutathione production.
These include the most important micronutrients and macronutrients:
• Vitamin C: plays a supporting role in improving glutathione in red blood cells and lymphocytes.
• Vitamin E: together with glutathione it helps protect glutathione-dependent enzymes.
• Selenium: Another antioxidant essential for the production of glutathione in the body.
• Vitamin B group (B6, B9, B12): they are necessary to maintain adequate levels of glutathione (GSH) in the body.
The difficulty in assimilating glutathione is one of the main problems that makes supplementation with supplements almost impossible. This molecule is in fact destroyed by the digestive system when bioavailability is lacking.
In fact, in this article we have suggested how to encourage the production of glutathione as opposed to making a simple list of foods that contain it. Because of these intestinal mechanisms, in fact, simple nutrition is often not the only answer.
A valid alternative today is represented by intravenous administration through the so-called Intravenous Nutritional Therapy (aka IV drips).
Glutathione: liver detoxifier.
Glutathione is one of the most important detoxifying agents. Cytochrome P 450 is the site of the degradation of drugs and other toxic substances and its activity largely depends on the presence of glutathione. In addition, antioxidants such as vitamin E and vitamin C are regenerated in the cells if there is sufficient presence of glutathione.
The presence of glutathione is fundamental for the activity of cytochrome P 450 on which the degradation of drugs depends, therefore those who need drug therapies for long periods of time would do well to calibrate their diet by using foods that contain important quantities of cystine, a vitamin C and vitamin E, and also a supplementation of products that contain an antioxidant mix.
In conclusion we can say that glutathione is the body’s most important antioxidant agent; it opposes oxidative stress and is therefore to be considered the most important anti-aging molecule.
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