If you want to slow the aging process, lower your risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia, and feel and look more youthful and energetic, it’s time to start thinking about glutathione.
Glutathione—aka “the mother of all antioxidants”—is a key player in our internal defense system, where it’s constantly being used to quench free radicals and combat inflammation.
For today’s newsletter, you’ll walk away with an understanding of what glutathione is, what depletes it, and what you can do to boost your levels naturally with the help of certain foods and supplements.
I’m also leaning on what I’ve learned from glutathione expert and past podcast guest Dr. Datis Kharrazian, so be sure to check out the additional resources at the end to see where you can learn more.
But first, I want to give a quick shoutout to today’s sponsor, BiOptimizers.
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Let’s jump in!
What Is Glutathione?
As our master antioxidant, glutathione is the guardian of our cells and tissues. It protects our mitochondria, DNA, and cells from damage by quenching harmful free radicals and combatting oxidative stress (1).
Glutathione is critical for detoxification, immunity, and maintaining balance in the body by fighting inflammation. We even have biological mechanisms in place so we can make it and recycle it ourselves—that’s how important it is!
Glutathione Protects Us from Chronic Disease
So many of the chronic diseases we see today are the result of the toxins we’re exposed to in our everyday life. The accumulation of toxins in our bodies increases the demand for glutathione, and over time can eventually cause our levels to run dry.
The most common stressors that deplete glutathione are:
- Eating a processed-foods diet high in refined sugars
- Exposure to pesticides in our environment, food, and water
- Exposure to heavy metals and other toxic chemicals
- BPA, phthalates, and other plastics
- Indoor and outdoor air pollution
- Chronically high stress levels
- Viral or bacteria infections
When we are constantly being bombarded by stressors and our bodies don’t have the time or bandwith to keep up with demands, symptoms start to appear. This is why lessening our toxic load, in addition to diet and lifestyle interventions, is critical for optimizing glutathione levels.
Now that we know why glutathione is important and what depletes it, let’s talk about what you can do to start raising your glutathione levels.
1. Minimize exposure to toxins. You can only get so far with food and supplements (discussed next) before addressing what’s depleting your glutathione levels in the first place. Get the most bang for your buck by purchasing the dirty dozen organic, minimizing the use of plastics, and finding healthy ways to manage your stress.
2. Eat these foods to boost glutathione production. Certain foods can boost glutathione levels in the body. My dear friend Dr. Deanna Minich wrote an in-depth review paper on this topic, which is where I pulled these suggestions from.
- Sulfur-rich vegetables. Glutathione is a sulfur-rich antioxidant, and eating sulfur-rich foods like broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, onions, garlic, and shallots can help support balanced levels.
- Pro tip: For maximum benefits, crush or chop these veggies to activate the enzymes that convert glutathione precursors into their active form. Gently steam or eat raw.
- Foods rich in selenium. Selenium powers glutathione peroxidase, the enzyme that’s responsible for quenching free radicals. Two Brazil nuts per day are enough to increase activity (2). Wild-caught fish and grass-fed beef are other excellent sources.
- Fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C and E. Glutathione is involved in the recycling of vitamin C and vitamin E, which also help recycle glutathione. Leafy green vegetables, citrus fruit, and kiwi are rich in vitamin C, and nuts, seeds, and avocado are good sources of vitamin E.
- Whey protein. Whey is a rich source of cysteine, the rate-limiting amino acid for glutathione synthesis. However, whey can cause problems for individuals who are sensitive. If that’s you, it’s best to avoid it. If you can tolerate whey without symptoms, a clean whey protein powder could benefit glutathione levels.Here are a couple of clean whey protein brands that I like:Mt. Capra Truly Grassfed Goat Whey Protein
Earth Fed Muscle Strawberry Feels (Forever) Grass Fed Protein
- Eat foods that naturally contain glutathione. Asparagus, avocado, cucumbers, green beans, spinach, and papaya have naturally occurring glutathione. Not much is known about the absorption rate, but it doesn’t hurt to incorporate these into your diet.
3. Exercise. A combination of aerobic exercises like walking, jogging, or biking (30 minutes per day) and strength training (20 minutes three times a week) can significantly boost glutathione levels (3).
4. Get good-quality sleep. Optimizing your sleep is a key for restoring your glutathione levels. When we don’t get enough restful REM sleep, our bodies are less resilient, and our glutathione levels are more easily depleted.
5. Targeted supplements. By itself, when taken in supplement form, glutathione doesn’t have a high absorption rate. That’s why Dr. Datis Kharrazian recommends taking glutathione precursors to effectively boost your levels.
- N-acetyl cysteine. This supplies cysteine in a form that can be absorbed by our cells and converted into glutathione. Dr. Datis Kharrazian recommends up to 1,500 mg per day as a safe and effective dose for boosting glutathione levels.However, variations in the genes responsible for making glutathione can hinder the conversion of cysteine. Infection and mold exposure are other factors that can get in the way. In that case, direct glutathione supplementation is the better option (see below for recommendation).
- Liposomal vitamin C. This form of vitamin C is more bioavailable than ordinary vitamin C supplements. Taking 500–1,500 mg daily can help elevate your glutathione status.
- Alpha lipoic acid. Alpha lipoic acid scavenges free radicals, recycles vitamins C and E, and helps regenerate glutathione. A 600–1,200 mg daily dose is most commonly prescribed.
- Quicksilver Glutathione. Quicksilver’s glutathione supplement uses liposomal technology to protect glutathione from being degraded by digestive enzymes to ensure maximum absorption, delivery, and uptake by cells and tissues.
When it comes to glutathione, we want to strive for balanced levels, which is why I recommend making simple adjustments to your diet and lifestyle to boost your levels before adding anything else.
Supplementation can help replenish your glutathione levels and will especially come in handy if you’re dealing with a chronic issue or illness that’s driven by chronic inflammation.
How to Learn More:
- Glutathione: Your Most Important Defense. This episode of Dr. Kharrazian’s podcast dives deep into the role of glutathione in our bodies and was the inspiration for a lot of the material in this newsletter.
Here’s to your health,
P.S. A few weeks ago, we sent out a Try This Swap newsletter on how to level up your water filter to a higher quality one that actually works. A dear friend of mine recently reached out and shared that there’s some controversy going on right now with ZeroWater (one of our swap recommendations) containing microplastics.
Although Zero denies these allegations, I wanted to be transparent with you all as new information comes forward. You can access the update article here.