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GlutaGlutathione is a powerful antioxidant that has gained a lot of attention for its purported health benefits. But what is glutathione and how does it affect the body beneficially?

Glutathione, also known as GSH, is a molecule found naturally in your body and is a very strong antioxidant that the body makes and uses every day. It is produced by the liver and nerve cells in the central nervous system. It is an antioxidant produced in cells that is comprised largely of three amino acids: glutamine, glycine, and cysteine. The levels of Glutathione in the body may be reduced by several factors which includes poor nutrition, environmental toxins, and stress. Its levels also decline with age, stress, and toxin in exposure.

In addition to being produced naturally by the body, glutathione can be given intravenously, topically, or as an inhalant. It’s also available as an oral supplement in capsule and liquid form. However, oral ingestion of glutathione may not be as effective as intravenous delivery for some conditions. Glutathione is also found in some foods, although cooking and pasteurization diminish its levels significantly. Its highest concentrations are in raw or very rare meat, unpasteurized milk and other unpasteurized dairy products, and freshly-picked fruits and vegetables, such as avocado, and asparagus. A diet rich in glutathione-boosting foods does not pose any risks. However, taking supplements may not be advisable for everyone. Possible side effects may include abdominal cramps, bloating, trouble breathing due to bronchial constriction, and allergic reactions, such as rash

Glutathione Benefits:

  • Reduces oxidative stress. Oxidative stress occurs when there’s an imbalance between the production of free radicals and the body’s ability to fight them off. Too-high levels of oxidative stress may be a precursor to multiple diseases. These include diabetes, cancer, and rheumatoid arthritis. Glutathione helps stave off the impact of oxidative stress, which may, in turn, reduce disease.
  • May improve psoriasis. A study published in the National Library of Medicine revealed that the ability of nondenatured bioactive whey protein isolate to increase the level of glutathione when taken 20g orally per day for three months can result to a significant improvement for patients with psoriasis. However, researchers stated that more study is needed.
  • Reduces cell damage in alcoholic and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Cell death in the liver may be exacerbated by a deficiency in antioxidants, including glutathione. This can lead to fatty liver disease in both those who misuse alcohol and those who don’t. Glutathione has been shown to improve protein, enzyme, and bilirubin levels in the blood of individuals with alcoholic and non-alcoholic chronic fatty liver disease. A study published in the National Library of Medicine reported that glutathione was most effective when given to people with fatty liver disease intravenously, in high doses. It also showed reductions in malondialdehyde, a marker of cell damage in the liver. It is also found that orally administered glutathione had positive effects on people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease following proactive lifestyle changes. In this study, glutathione was provided in supplement form in a dose of 300 milligrams per day for four months.
  • Improves insulin resistance in older individuals. As people age, they produce less glutathione. Researchers at Baylor School of Medicine used a combination of animal and human studies to explore the role of glutathione in weight management and insulin resistance insulin in older individuals. Study findings indicated that low glutathione levels were associated with less fat burning and higher rates of fat storing in the body. Older subjects had cysteine and glycine added to their diets to increase glutathione levels, which spiked within two weeks, improving insulin resistance and fat burning.
  • Reduces symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s disease affects the central nervous system and is defined by symptoms such as tremors. It currently has no cure. One older study documented intravenous glutathione’s positive effects on symptoms such as tremors and rigidity. While more research is needed, this case report suggests that glutathione may help reduce symptoms, improving quality of life in people with this disease.
  • May help fight against autoimmune disease. The chronic inflammation caused by autoimmune diseases can increase oxidative stress. These diseases include rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, and lupus. According to onethe studies published in the National Library of Medicine, glutathione helps reduce oxidative stress by either stimulating or reducing the body’s immunological response. Autoimmune diseases attack the mitochondria in specific cells. Glutathione works to protect cell mitochondria by eliminating free radicals.
  • May reduce oxidative damage in children with autism. Several studies published in the National Library of Medicine, including a clinical trial reported in Medical Science Monitor, indicate that children with autism have higher levels of oxidative damage and lower levels of glutathione in their brains. This increased susceptibility to neurological damage in children with autism from substances such as mercury.
  • May reduce the impact of uncontrolled diabetes. Long-term high blood sugar is associated with reduced amounts of glutathione. This can lead to oxidative stress and tissue damage. A study found that dietary supplementation with cysteine and glycine boosted glutathione levels. It also lowered oxidative stress and damage in people with uncontrolled diabetes, despite high sugar levels. Study participants were placed on 0.81 millimoles per kilogram (mmol/kg) of cysteine and 1.33 mmol/kg glycine daily for two weeks.
  • May reduce respiratory disease symptoms. N-acetylcysteine is a medication used to treat conditions such as asthma and cystic fibrosis. As an inhalant, it helps to thin mucus and make it less paste-like. It also reduces inflammation. N-acetylcysteine is byproduct of glutathione.
  • Skin whitening. It can also cause skin lightening by converting melanin to a lighter color and deactivating the enzyme tyrosinase, which helps produce the pigment.

Boosting glutathione by eating foods rich in glutathione may provide many health benefits including reduction of oxidants stress. However, supplements may be appropriate for some people, but they may not be safe for everyone, and they could interact with other medications a person is taking. The best way to do is to speak with a doctor before starting glutathione supplementation to determine whether it will be safe or effective for you.

AA VI Angelyn P. Intal, RND

 

References:

  • Overview and benefits of Glutathione.

https://www.healthline.com/health/glutathione-benefits#takeaway

  • What is Glutathione?

https://www.verywellhealth.com/benefits-of-glutathione-89457

  • Can Glutathione Be Used As A Treatment For Psoriasis?

https://askdrjj.com/glutathione-use-as-a-treatment-for-psoriasis/