We already know that our body does an amazing job of renewing and detoxing itself. And while we assume that drinking detox water and eating a plant-rich diet is responsible for our body’s detoxification process, in actuality, we have an antioxidant to thank for it, and its name is Glutathione.
Glutathione is known as the “master antioxidant” that is responsible for a lot of bodily functions. Here’s a look at why it’s so important and different ways you can actually raise your glutathione levels.
What Is Glutathione?
Glutathione is an amino acid that accounts for a large percentage of your total antioxidant capacity, however, it’s not something you can get from food. Yes, most foods contain glutathione, but the body breaks it down before you ever get to reap the benefits of it.
In fact, studies have concluded that supplemental and dietary glutathione isn’t actually associated with glutathione levels in the blood. Taking supplements is ineffective as it only raises your glutathione levels by a very small amount.
As opposed to consuming glutathione in your food, your body actually produces this amino acid itself. Glutathione is imperative for the detoxification of the liver, and there is even documented studies to prove it.
What Does Glutathione Actually Do?
Glutathione is responsible for a lot of functions that occur within the body, but the most important roles of this amino acid are assisting the detoxification of the liver and its anti-inflammatory and immune function.
Detoxification and Glutathione
While there are detox waters and footpads that claim to be beneficial in detoxing your body, glutathione is the one responsible for the detoxification of the liver. In the liver, this amino acid binds to toxins before it is excreted out of your body.
The detoxification powers of glutathione are so strong that it is even used for people who overdose on acetaminophen and have to go to the hospital for a detox. The master of antioxidants is also said to be essential in helping your body remove toxins caused by food and your environment.
One study found that when people had a high amount of mercury in their body caused by eating a lot of fish, the mercury that the people retained was related to the genes regulating glutathione synthesis — the more glutathione their bodies made, the less mercury they retained.
Glutathione’s Anti-Inflammatory and Immune Benefits
Glutathione is considered the first line of defense against oxidative stress, which is essential for your brain. Out of all the tissues in your body, your brain is the most susceptible to oxidative stress as it uses about 20 percent of your daily oxygen consumption. Without glutathione, the oxidative damage will occur. Glutathione’s defense against oxidative stress also keeps inflammation under control.
Studies even suggest that low glutathione levels may even make your brain more vulnerable to neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s.
Glutathione also has a huge impact on the immune system. It is important for the natural cell killers responsible for fighting off bacteria and viruses that try to attack your immune system. One study even shows how glutathione affects a type of immune cell that helps fight off tuberculosis.
How to Raise Glutathione Levels
There are different studies that have examined the ways to increase glutathione levels in the body.
- One study suggests that exercise can actually increase glutathione activity. The study compared cardio and weight training and concluded that using them in conjunction proved most successful in raising glutathione levels.
- Eating cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cabbage and broccoli have been proven very effective in increasing glutathione activity.
- Garlic and onions, just like the cruciferous vegetables, are rich in sulfur, which helps in the production of glutathione. By eating enough foods rich in sulfur, you can ensure you’re getting enough glutathione.
Glutathione is an antioxidant that is essential for detoxification, inflammation and promoting a healthy immune system. As unique as it is, your body produces this antioxidant itself. By getting enough exercise and eating your vegetables, you will be able to help your body detox and protect against bacteria and viruses.