“Antioxidant” has become a huge buzzword among health buffs and within the fitness industry over the past few years, and with good reason. Glutathione is definitely at the top of the list when it comes to antioxidants you should be ingesting to fight damage from free radicals, which ultimately protect your cells from cancer, aging, and tons of diseases.
Glutathione and Other Antioxidants Protect Cells
Before getting into glutathione, AKA the “master antioxidant”, itself, here’s a brief refresher on free radicals and antioxidants. Free radicals are essentially bits of matter that go around disrupting the molecular structure of various cells in your body. WebMD uses a vivid example to illustrate what free radicals do: it’s the same chemical reaction that causes a sliced apple to turn brown (not exactly something that sounds good for your health!). Theories abound that link free radical proliferation to cancer, premature aging, and countless diseases.
Antioxidants, on the other hand, are nature’s way of combating free radicals. The reason glutathione is so important is that it is an extremely powerful antioxidant. According to an article in Pharmacognosy Review, glutathione changes the structure of free radicals and prevents them from damaging other cells, while also repairing already-damaged cells.
Glutathione: The Master Antioxidant
That brings us to glutathione, the master antioxidant. This modest molecule has been purported to cure or prevent everything ranging from infertility and anemia to AIDS, Alzheimer’s, and cancer. An article in Science News from early last year reported that a recent University of Colorado study found that glutathione made brain tumors more susceptible to chemotherapy, reducing the amount of treatment necessary and protecting healthy cells. Not bad for one molecule.
Glutathione works like most other antioxidants in helping to reduce oxidation and detoxify your body, but it gets its status as a “master antioxidant” because it also helps other antioxidants do their jobs better. Plus, according to a 2011 review article in the Journal of Amino Acids, glutathione is involved in countless biological processes, which is why it’s used to treat such a wide range of illnesses and diseases. These processes include everything from maintaining the very structure of the cell, to making sure DNA copies correctly, to ensuring that the cell can properly turn food energy into cellular energy in the mitochondria.
Getting Enough Glutathione
While our bodies do make enough glutathione to keep us going in our younger years, our natural glutathione levels eventually start to drop off. Scientists at the University of Louisville have proposed that not only are these lower glutathione levels part of why those in their more mature years are more susceptible to disease, but are also one of the culprits in the aging process itself.
There are a few ways for you to boost your levels of glutathione to protect your cells and even fight off the aging process. A glutathione-containing supplement is a quick and easy way to give your cells a boost, although some studies have shown that due to the digestion process, you don’t get the full benefit of glutathione through supplements. Luckily, glutathione can be found in a number of foods, like broccoli, kale, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts. Finally, exercise has been shown to help the body produce more of its own glutathione.
Glutathione, the master antioxidant, plays a huge role in defending your cells from age, cancer, and disease through detoxifying your body, neutralizing free radicals, and helping cells perform their daily tasks. It’s one antioxidant you definitely want to make sure you’re getting enough of.