Glutathione has been described as the greatest antioxidant that you didn’t know existed. Glutathione is not only a powerful antioxidant itself, but also acts to recycle other antioxidants for maximal function. Antioxidants are critical in negating the harmful effects of reactive oxygen species such as free radicals and peroxides. These harmful molecules can cause oxidative stress on the body’s cells, which may damage or kill these cells. In fact, oxidative stress has been associated with over 74 major diseases and disorders.
Hence, antioxidants are critically important in maintaining a healthy body, and Glutathione is critical in maintaining appropriate levels of antioxidants. However, this is just one of the numerous Glutathione benefits, with more functions of this important molecule being discovered every day. This article aims to provide an overview of the currently recognised Glutathione benefits, and outlines the importance of Glutathione in normal, healthy functioning of the body.
Glutathione Plays Many Important Roles
Glutathione is found in almost every cell in the body, and as a result of this it has a wide variety of roles throughout the body. Glutathione plays important roles in the following areas:
- Lungs – The epithelial cells lining the lungs utilize Glutathione to protect against oxidative stress. A chronic infection, smoking or inhaled pollutants can cause the depletion of this protective layer, resulting in inflammation, lung damage and even lung disease.
- Brain – Glutathione decreases oxidative stress in the brain, and is known to be depleted in the brains of people with Parkinsons Disease, depression, autism spectrum disorders, ADHD and other neurological diseases. Glutathione has also been shown to improve mental clarity and memory, as well as helping prevent the formation of amyloid plaques in the brain that lead to Alzheimers Disease.
- Cellular detoxification – In the industrial world we live in today, we are exposed to over 80,000 chemicals in the air we breathe and the food and water we ingest. Many of these chemicals are toxic and enter our cells, and must be eliminated to protect the cell and maintain optimal function. Glutathione is the cell’s primary defence against chemicals and toxins, and works to eliminate these from our bodies.
- Immune system protection – Glutathione facilitates the proliferation of newly formed immune cells. It also has properties which aid in the protection of the body from viruses, and is a significant mediator of inflammation. While some inflammation is beneficial in controlling infection, too much can have dire consequences and lead to autoimmune diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, multiple sclerosis and many more harmful diseases.
- Fertility – Glutathione is the essential molecule that allows the sperm and the egg to fuse at conception. Research has indicated that low Glutathione levels may be linked to infertility and complications during pregnancy.
- Eye health – The Glutathione content in the eye is relatively high, and the molecule plays an important role in maintaining the transparency of the lens. Other Glutathione benefits in the eye include assisting in the prevention of cataracts, glaucoma, retinal disease and diabetic blindness.
These are but some examples of the currently recognized Glutathione benefits. It is plain to see that this molecule is exceptionally important for normal cellular function and protection from a myriad of diseases, regardless of where in the body it is being used. As we are exposed to even more chemicals through new packaged foods, new agricultural methods and larger cities with more pollutants, Glutathione becomes even more important.
Unfortunately, Glutathione levels do decline over time with age and exposure to a variety of toxins. Alcohol consumption, a diet high in processed foods, stress and trauma, chronic illness and other conditions can all impact your Glutathione levels and reduce the ability of Glutathione to perform its beneficial functions.
Staying healthy and exercising regularly, avoiding stress where possible, getting plenty of sleep and enjoying a diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables all help to maintain your Glutathione levels and allow you to experience the many important Glutathione benefits.