Health researchers have long recognized the biological importance of antioxidants. Due to their ability to inhibit oxidation and peroxidation, these important substances — which are found in most whole foods — provide us with numerous health benefits. They guard us from cellular damage and degenerative diseases, minimize wrinkles and preserve skin texture, reduce the incidence of sunburn and much more.(1) While most people are familiar with the most common antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E, there is one antioxidant that remains relatively unknown outside of the scientific community: glutathione. Despite its obscurity, however, glutathione is possibly the most important antioxidant of all.
Why is glutathione important?
Like other antioxidants, glutathione’s main role is to protect our cells from oxidative and peroxidative damage, which includes scavenging free radicals (unstable atoms, ions or molecules which, if left unchecked, can cause tremendous harm to our DNA and cellular membranes). When seriously deficient in glutathione, we begin to suffer from cardiovascular and inflammatory issues, cancer, muscle fatigue, cancer, liver dysfunction and age-related diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.(2)
Unlike other antioxidants, however, glutathione is intracellular. This means that it exists “inside the cells,” lending it the unique ability to maximize the activity of all other antioxidants. In other words, glutathione not only provides us with health benefits of its own, but also optimizes and amplifies the health benefits of other antioxidants as well. This greatly decreases our bodies’ susceptibility to unrestrained cell disintegration from infections, cancer, oxidative stress and free radicals. For this reason, glutathione is often nicknamed the “master antioxidant.”(3)
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Boosting glutathione production
Glutathione is manufactured naturally in our bodies and is found in all our cells. Unfortunately, poor diets, toxins, pollution, stress, medications, aging and countless other internal and external factors help deplete our glutathione levels. Moreover, when our toxic load becomes too great, our bodies’ ability to recycle existing glutathione is compromised, often leading to a deficiency.
To help remedy this issue, many of us turn to glutathione supplements to boost our production of this essential antioxidant. However, most glutathione supplements are shown to possess poor bioavailability and, in the most extreme cases, can even affect our bodies’ production of natural glutathione. Therefore, if you’re looking to increase your glutathione levels, it’s a good idea to stick to whole foods that are proven to boost glutathione production, such as turmeric, garlic, broccoli, asparagus, avocados, walnuts, red meat, eggs and raw milk.