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Your body is under constant attack. Ultraviolet light, pollution, chemicals – and even your own body – all make free radicals. These molecules “steal” electrons from cells in your body. This results in damage… even to your DNA.
Antioxidants are your body’s first line of defense. They “donate” an electron to neutralize free radicals and prevent cellular damage.
You get some antioxidants from your diet, and your body makes others. But as you age, your body can’t keep up with the damage. Your ability to make key antioxidants slows. And the damage starts to build up.
But you can slow this process. You can even reverse some of time’s effects. Today, I’d like to share a simple strategy to boost your body’s master antioxidant.
Made up of 3 amino acids, glutathione exists in almost every cell of your body. Its main job is as an antioxidant and detoxifier. But it does much more.
Glutathione – or GSH – is a key player in DNA repair. When a free radical steals an electron from a DNA strand, GSH can replace it. And that’s just for starters. GSH also…
GSH is probably the most important anti-aging molecule your body makes.
But time slows your ability to make GSH. Taking a GSH supplement seems like a good idea. But there’s one small problem…
The problem with taking GSH as a supplement is it’s a protein. Your digestive tract is designed to break proteins down. And it’s pretty good at breaking down GSH.
“Well,” you might think, “at least I’ll have the raw materials to make more.” And that makes sense. Except your body’s ability to make GSH has dropped off. So just getting more of the raw materials may not boost your GSH levels enough to make a real difference.
What you need is some way to stimulate GSH production… or to take some of the workload off GSH so you have enough for the functions other molecules can’t do.
The good news is you can do both.
Scientists at Oregon State University have discovered N-acetyl-cysteine – or NAC – helps maintain GSH levels. It may even slow the decline in GSH production that comes with age.1
GSH blocks toxic processes linked to many age-related health issues. Issues like abnormal cell growth, high blood sugar, and heart trouble.
When the Oregon State researchers added NAC to older cells, their GSH levels went up. And the GSH prevented free radical damage that occurred in untreated cells. But NAC isn’t the only nutrient that has this effect.
Experts at the University of California, Berkeley note that Alpha-lipoic-acid – ALA – helps boost GSH production, too.2
Like NAC, raises cellular GSH levels and stimulates GSH production. Chinese doctors have found ALA can regenerate GSH.3
So getting plenty of Alpha-lipoic acid could help slow the effects of aging. Spinach, broccoli, tomatoes, and red meat are all good sources of ALA. It’s also available as a supplement.
Other nutrients may not be proven to trigger GSH production… but they can take some of the pressure off your limited supply. Either way, they promote higher levels of your master antioxidant.
For example, scientists in India looked at ways to combat free radical damage that occurs at high altitude. In animal studies, they found taking pomegranate lowered free radical damage and raised GSH levels.4
A 2014 Greek study looked at the effects of pomegranate in humans. Doctors gave 14 volunteers pomegranate juice for 15 days.
The doctors measured markers of oxidation (free radical damage) and GSH levels before, during, and after the 15 days. In just a couple of weeks, all the signs of oxidation dropped by double digits. And their volunteers’ GSH levels shot up by 22%.5
The Indian herb ashwagandha appears to have a similar effect.
In one study, animals were exposed to a brief physical stressor daily for 21 days. After stress, they showed higher levels of free radical activity and a drop in GSH levels.
Giving their subjects ashwagandha before the daily stressor, resulted in a marked change. The signs of free radical damage went down, and GSH levels rose.6
In a university study, scientists triggered oxidative damage in test subjects’ spinal cords with copper. When the animals took ashwagandha first, there was less free radical activity and GSH was preserved.7
Ashwagandha is available as a supplement, but buy only from a supplier you know and trust. Watchdogs have found labeling and contamination problems in recent years.
Acetyl L-carnitine and L-carnosine are both forms of common amino acids. Both are made naturally in your body in limited amounts. Both have antioxidant properties. And studies suggest both may help raise GSH levels.
In a study of the mid-brain, Chicago doctors discovered carnitine and carnosine both boosted GSH levels. In this case, GSH was key to protecting the reward and pleasure centers of the brain.8
Doctors in a 2014 Polish study tested carnosine on elite athletes.
Intense exercise causes an increase in free radical activity – and typically lowers antioxidant defense levels in response.
The doctors gave kayakers and canoeists carnosine for 14 days. The result was fewer signs of oxidative damage and higher GSH levels – in just two weeks.9
Both carnosine and carnitine are available as supplements.
Yours in continued good health,
Best Life Herbals Wellness Team
1. Thomas, N.O., et al, “Glutathione maintenance mitigates age-related susceptibility to redox cycling agents,” Redox Biology. Dec 2016; 10: 45-52.
2. “Are Glutathione Supplements Helpful?” University of California, Berkeley. Mar 16, 2016.
3. Shi, C., et al, “α-Lipoic acid protects against the cytotoxicity and oxidative stress induced by cadmium in HepG2 cells through regeneration of glutathione by glutathione reductase via Nrf2/ARE signaling pathway,” Environ Toxicol Pharmacol. Jul 2016; 45: 274-281.
4. Gaurava, et al, “Effect of Pomegranate (Punica Granatum L) Juice on Changes in Tissue Glutathione Levels of Rats Exposed to High Altitude Hypoxia,” Anc Sci Life. Oct-Dec 2001; 21(2): 75-86.
5. Matthaiou, C.M., et al, “Pomegranate juice consumption increases GSH levels and reduces lipid and protein oxidation in human blood,” Food Chem Toxicol. Nov 2014; 73: 1-6.
6. Bhattacharya, A., et al, “Anti-oxidant effect of Withania somnifera glycowithanolides in chronic footshock stress-induced perturbations of oxidative free radical scavenging enzymes and lipid peroxidation in rat frontal cortex and striatum,” J Ethnopharmacol. Jan 2001; 74(1): 1-6.
7. Gupta, S.K., et al, “Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) attenuates antioxidant defense in aged spinal cord and inhibits copper induced lipid peroxidation and protein oxidative modifications,” Drug Metabol Drug Interact. 2003; 19(3): 211-222.
8. Fariello, R.G., et al, “Systemic acetyl-L-carnitine elevates nigral levels of glutathione and GABA,” Life Sci. 1988; 43(3): 289-292.
9. Slowinska-Lisowska, M., et al, “Influence of l-carnosine on pro-antioxidant status in elite kayakers and canoeists ,” Acta Physiol Hung. Dec 2014; 101(4): 461-470.
The statements contained herein have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. They are not intended to treat, diagnose, prevent or cure and disease.