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Can we get better results from food alone?

Glutathione is a key cellular component, known as the body’s most powerful antioxidant. It is a tri-peptide constructed from three amino acids through a special enzymatic process and appears in all cells and tissues. There is currently a great hype about glutathione supplementation. It is highly popularized as a “miracle” means to boost health, prevent disease and fight aging. So is glutathione a miracle pill? Let’s examine the facts.

What is the role of glutathione?

The main function of glutathione is to protect the cell and mitochondria from oxidative damage. Meaning: glutathione isn’t only acting as antioxidant; it is also essential for energy utilization. Indeed, mitochondrial dysfunction, muscle weakness, fatigue and aging are linked to declining glutathione.

There are many factors that affect your body’s glutathione levels; some are nutritional and some environmental. Interestingly, two of the most important triggers of glutathione synthesis in the body are nutritional and physical stress. This is one reason why fasting and exercise are so beneficial to your health.

Do glutathione supplements work?

Though glutathione supplementation may help people with immune deficiency it can only work up to a certain degree and not without side effects.

The problem with glutathione supplementation is that it inhibits your body’s own glutathione production. Your body is programmed to self-produce its own glutathione. However, once that synthetic molecule hits your system, your body will perceive it as a signal to STOP its own production. Consequently, your body will become supplement dependent rather than self-sustaining.

Whether synthetic vitamins and drugs are beneficial is largely arguable. What has been proven beyond doubt is that the human body evolved for whole foods nutrients only. No organism on this planet ever evolved for synthetic nourishment. The best way to boost glutathione and grant a long lasting effect is the natural way – through whole food.

What food promotes glutathione most?

The food that promotes glutathione most is quality whey protein – non-denatured Pasture-Raised Cows’ Whey, hormone free, chemical free and sugar free, such as Warrior Whey®. Quality whey provides not only the key amino acids for glutathione production (cysteine, glycine and glutamate); it also contains a unique cysteine residue (glutamylcysteine) which is highly bioactive in its affinity to convert to glutathione.

Glutamylcysteine is a bonded cysteine molecule (cysteine + glutamate) which naturally occurs in the fragile immuno component of the whey called Serum Albumin. This unique cysteine reside is exclusive to whey and rarely appears in other protein foods – which makes whey protein the best glutathione promoting food source. Furthermore, quality whey provides immune supportive proteins – virtually same as those occurring in human breast milk, which altogether help create the right metabolic environment for sustaining healthy glutathione levels.

Warrior Whey® with Defense Nutrition Pasture Raised Cows Whey Protein

Warrior Whey® with Defense Nutrition Pasture Raised Cows Whey Protein

Whey is not the only food that promotes glutathione. Other whole foods including cheese, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, germs, roots, vegetables and fruits can help promote glutathione or work as co-factors. However, to a lesser degree.

Also note that healthy glutathione levels depend not only on the factors that boost glutathione but also on the factors that prevent glutathione from declining. A natural glutathione boost therefore depends on the avoidance or elimination of elements that deplete glutathione. Most notable among them are chemicals, toxins and sugar.

In Summary

Factors that naturally boost glutathione levels:

  • Whole foods proteins (chemical free); whey, cheese, fish, meat, legumes, nuts, seeds.
  • Food based antioxidants and immuno co-factors; vegetables, fruits, and herbs.
  • Low sugar / low glycemic diet.
  • Fasting and exercise.

 

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References:

Bounous G., Gold P. 1991. The biological activity of undenatured dietary whey proteins: role of glutathione. Clin Invest Med. Aug;14(4):296-309.

Bounous G. Whey protein concentrate (WPC) and glutathione modulation in cancer treatment. Anticancer Res. 2000 Nov-Dec;20(6C):4785-92.

Glutathione White Paper. Richard Van Konynenburg, PhD. http://phoenix-cfs.org/GluAACFS04.htm.

Glutathione. http://www.ithyroid.com/glutathione.htm.

Huh K., Kwon T.H., Kim J.S., Park J.M. Role of the hepatic xanthine oxidase in thyroid dysfunction: effect of thyroid hormones in oxidative stress in rat liver. Arch Pharm Res; 21(3):236-40 Jun 1998.

Seymen, O., Seven A., Candan G., Yigit G., Hatemi S., Hatemi H. The effect of iron supplementation on GSH levels, GSH-Px, and SOD activities of erythrocytes in L-thyroxine administration. Acta Med Okayama. 51(3):129-33 1997 Jun.

Powell L.A., Warpeha K.M., Xu W., Walker B., Trimble E.R. High glucose decreases intracellular glutathione concentrations and upregulates inducible nitric oxide synthase gene expression in intestinal epithelial cells. Journal of Molecular Endocrinology. December 1, 2004 33:797-803.

Donnini D., Zambito A.M., Perrella G; Ambesi-Impiombato F.S., Curcio F. Glucose may induce cell death through a free radical-mediated mechanism. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 219(2):412-7 1996 Feb 15.

Loven D., Schedl H., Wilson H., Daabees T.T., Stegink L.D., Diekus M., Oberley L. Effect of insulin and oral glutathione on glutathione levels and superoxide dismutase activities in organs of rats with streptozocin-induced diabetes. http://diabetes.diabetesjournals.org/content/35/5/503.short.

El-Hawary Z., El-Hawary M.F.S., Morcus S.R. 1977. Blood glucose, glutathione, and total keto-acids levels in alloxan-diabetic rats. Zeitschrift für Ernährungswissenschaft 16(4): 227-230.

Herbert F.K., Cotonio Bourne M., Groen J. 1930. The effect of glutathione on the determination of blood-sugar. Department of Chemical Pathology, St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, London.

Fidelus R.K., Tsan M.F. Glutathione and lymphocyte activation: a function of aging and auto-immune disease. Immunology. 1987 61:503-508.

Higashi T., Tateshi N., Naruse A., Sakamoto Y. (1977) A novel physiological role of liver glutathione as a reservoir of L-cystein. J Biochem. 82, 117.

Meister A. (1983) Selective modification of glutathione metabolism. Science. 220, 472.

Meredith M.J., Reed D.J. (1983) Depletion in vitro of mitochondrial glutathione in rat hepatocytes and enhancement of lipid peroxidation by adriamycin and 1,3Bis(2-chloroethyl)-1-nitrosaurea (BCNU). Biochem Pharmacol. 32, 1383.

Stohs S.J., Lawson T., Al-Turk W.A. (1984) Changes in glutathione and glutathione metabolizing enzymes erythrocytes and lymphocytes of mice as a function of age. Gen Pharmacol. 15, 267.

Tsan M.F., Danis E.H., Del Vecchio P.J., Rosano C.B. (1985) Enhancement of intracellular glutathione protects endothelial cells against oxidative damage. Biochem Biophys. Res. Commun. 127, 270.

Wellner V.P., Anderson M.E., Puri R.N., Jensen G.L., Meister A. (1982) Radioprotection by glutathione ester: transport of glutathione ester in human lymphoid cells and fibroblasts. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 81, 4732.

 
About Ori Hofmekler — founder of Defense Nutrition and author of The Warrior Diet, is a nutritional and fitness expert. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

3 Comments

  1. Avatar for Ori Hofmekler
    April 28, 2014 at 12:46 am

    Also observe that healthy glutathione stages rely not only on the aspects that increase glutathione but also on the aspects that avoid glutathione from decreasing. A natural glutathione increase therefore relies on the prevention or removal of components that wipe out glutathione. Most significant among them are substances, poisons and glucose.

    http://allezweitagediat.de/

  2. Avatar for Ori Hofmekler
    Matthias Herzog-
    May 26, 2014 at 2:29 pm

    Could you explain the part with germs being a food?

  3. Avatar for Ori Hofmekler
    May 30, 2014 at 1:06 am

    Matthias Herzog , I cannot say it better. In fact, certain compounds in plants called stress activated food (SAF) nutrients have shown to promote glutathione peroxide (GPX) and SOD while mimicking the effects of calorie restriction and exercise. More information on SAF will be released soon.