Natural Ways to Raise Glutathione Levels To Halt Aging

Glutathione or GSH, is the most powerful naturally occurring antioxidant in all human cells and is an extremely important cell protectant.

Glutathione is a small protein composed of three amino acids - cysteine, glutamic acid, and glycine - that is involved in detoxification, immune system enhancement and antioxidant mechanisms.

Increasing the body's production of glutathione may inhibit the progression of the aging process (old cells contain 20% to 30% less glutathione compared to young cells. Our ability to produce and maintain a high level of glutathione is critical to recovery from nearly all chronic illness — and to preventing disease and maintaining optimal health and performance. 

At about age 20 glutathione levels start to drop naturally in the body and cells start to become more and more overwhelmed without enough glutathione to keep them functioning optimally. Every decade glutathione levels drop by 10-15%.

The greater the exposure to toxins the faster the body uses up its supply of glutathione. Without the protection of glutathione, cells die at a faster rate, making people age quicker and putting them at risk for toxin-induced diseases including cancer. 

People who smoke, are chronically exposed to toxins, stress, injury, suffer from inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, or suffer from chronic conditions like diabetes, AIDS or cancer typically have lower levels of glutathione. It's a vicious cycle: health problems deplete the supply of glutathione, and reduced levels of glutathione increase the risk of health problems.

In addition to its dietary role in enhancing detoxification and protecting against cancer, studies using intravenous glutathione have found it to be useful in: slowing aging, improving liver function, fighting inflammation which preserves cellular health, improving heart and lung function, increasing mental functions and energy, improving concentration, preventing clot formation during operations, reducing the side effects and efficacy of chemotherapy drugs like cisplatin, Parkinson's disease, and increasing sperm counts in men with low sperm name just some.

Glutathione is so important to cellular function that over 79,000 medical articles have been published about it.

Ways To Boost Gluthathione

RAW FOOD While dietary forms of glutathione appear to be efficiently absorbed into the blood, the same does not appear to be true for glutathione supplements in humans. In addition, cooking food severely depletes glutathione. Asparagus is a leading source of glutathione. Foods like broccoli, beets, avocado and spinach are also known to boost glutathione levels. Raw eggs, garlic, cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts, watercress, oats and kale contain high levels of sulphur-containing amino acids and help to maintain optimal glutathione levels. Other foods that boost glutathione are watermelon and walnuts..

Table 1. Comparison of Glutathione in Fresh vs. Cooked Foods
Glutathione amount (dry weight)
(in milligrams per 31/2 oz (100 g) serving)

Food Uncooked Cooked
Apples 21 0.0
Carrots 74.6 0.0
Grapefruit 70.6 0.0
Spinach 166 27.1
Tomatoes 169 0.0

These are perhaps 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. Take folate (especially in the active form of 5 methyltetrahydrofolate), B6 (in active form of P5P) and B12 (in the active form of methylcobalamin).
Foods Rich in B6: banana, bell pepper, garlic, cauliflower, celery, cabbage, crimini mushrooms, asparagus, broccoli, kale and brussel sprouts.
Foods Rich in Folate: romaine lettuce, asparagus, lentils, cauliflower, beets, pinto beans, garbanzo beans, papaya, parsley and string beans.

Cold showers may increase glutathione. Encouragingly, a study of winter swimmers hints that cold water therapy can stimulate increases in glutathione levels. The study followed ten healthy subjects who swam regularly in cold water, and compared their glutathione levels to non-winter swimmers. They found two things:
1. Immmediately after swimming they had an inflated amount of oxidized glutathione to total glutathione.
2. At baseline, their “reduced glutathione” was greater while their oxidized glutathione was less than non-winter swimmers.

Don't be fooled by advertisements selling glutathione pills.  Glutathione levels cannot be increased to a clinically beneficial extent by orally ingesting a single dose of glutathione. When healthy subjects were given a single dose of up to 3,000 mg of glutathione researchers found there was no increase in blood glutathione levels. This is because glutathione is manufactured inside the cell, from its precursor (or building blocks) amino acids, glycine, glutamate and cysteine.

The supplement N-acetyl-cysteine is derived from the amino acid L-Cysteine, and acts as a precursor of glutathione. NAC is quickly metabolized into glutathione once it enters the body. It has been proven in numerous scientific studies and clinical trials, to boost intracellular production of glutathione. But there is some controversy on it: Study
L-Cysteine Rich Foods: Protein rich animal foods, broccoli, garlic, onion, oats, red pepper, and brussel sprouts.

Blood glutathione levels rose nearly 50% in healthy individuals taking 500 mg of vitamin C. Vitamin C raises glutathione by helping the body manufacture it.

MACA This Peruvian aphrodisiac was found to increase the all-important natural super-antioxidants SOD and glutathione.

MILK THISTLE Milk thistle is a powerful antioxidant and supports the liver by preventing the depletion of glutathione. Silymarin is the active compound of milk thistle. It is a natural liver detoxifier and protects the liver from many industrial toxins such as carbon tetrachloride, and more common agents like alcohol. In practice when milk thistle is combined with NAC, in some GSH depleted states it can increase glutathione levels by 35%.

ALPHA LIPOIC ACID Made naturally in body cells as a by-product of energy release, ALA increases the levels of intra-cellular glutathione, and is a natural antioxidant with free radical scavenging abilities. It has the ability to regenerate oxidized antioxidants like Vitamin C, E and glutathione and helps to make them more potent. ALA is also known for its ability to enhance glucose uptake and may help prevent the cellular damage accompanying the complications of diabetes. It also has a protective effect in the brain.

TURMERIC Treatment of brain cells called astrocytes, with the Indian curry spice, curcumin (turmeric) has been found to increase expression of the glutathione S-transferase and protect neurons exposed to oxidant stress.

MELATONIN is a hormone made by a part of the brain called the pineal gland. Melatonin may help our bodies know when it's time to go to sleep and when it's time to wake up has been shown to increase gluthathione levels. Study. Largely due to its red pigment, melatonin is found in high concentrations in tart cherries. Tart Cherries are also a powerful antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties. As we age the brain produces less melatonin and about 1/3 of North Americans experience a sleep disorder.  Lack of sleep (chronic insomnia) can lead to other health challenges such as Appetite, Weight Gain, Depression, Diabetes and depleted Immune System.
Some ways to increase melatonin are: sleep in complete darkness, get bright sunlight everyday, and mediation.

BALLOON FLOWER ROOT Changkil saponins (CKS) isolated from the roots of the Chinese herbal medicine, Platycodon grandiflorum A. DC (Campanulaceae), commonly called Balloon Flower Root or Jie Geng, have been found to increase intracellular glutathione (GSH) content and significantly reduce oxidative injury to liver cells, minimize cell death and lipid peroxidation.

SELENIUM Selenium is a co-factor for the enzyme glutathione peroxidase. Selenium supplements have become popular because some studies suggest they may play a role in decreasing the risk of certain cancers, and in how the immune system and the thyroid gland function. However, too much selenium can cause some toxic effects including gastrointestinal upset, brittle nails, hair loss and mild nerve damage. It is best to get selenium from food sources.

Foods Rich in Selenium: brazil nuts, mushrooms, barley, sunflower seeds, and oats.

BILBERRY A study of Air Force pilots in England after WWII revealed that bilberry jam improves night vision. Further studies indicate that bilberry extracts boost glutathione production and support higher glutathione levels in the eyes. Glutathione is an essential nutrient for optimal vision. 

Recommendation: One supplement that I like that contains many of these supplements/herbs is Mega Food Antioxidant, which is a whole food supplement. Highly recommended! As well as my other picks below.

Thanks for reading!  

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