You’ve probably heard of glutathione. Antioxidants are all the rage right now, and you’ll hear people talking about them left right and center. It can be a challenge to find useful advice amongst through all the confusing scientific jargon and the popular diet fads flying around out there. But trust us, glutathione is a good thing – in fact, it’s essential to your wellbeing!
So what is glutathione and why do we need it?
Glutathione is an endogenous antioxidant that maintains the immune system. This tripeptide is made up of the amino acids glutamic acid and glycine. Glutathione protects your cells against damage, disease, and deterioration from peroxides and free radicals. It regulates hydrogen peroxide production, and it boosts your energy and your immune system. It helps your body fight against inflammation, protects against toxic xenobiotics (drugs, poisonous substances, pollution) and it can even stave off the effects of aging.
Improving your glutathione levels boosts your energy levels, protects you from illness, helps your body to heal from injury, and improves your overall health and strength.
As you get older your body will produce less glutathione, so it becomes essential to give yourself a boost by consuming healthy foods that will aid with glutathione production.
Here are some natural ways to boost your glutathione levels:
- Whey Protein
Whey protein gives you a boost of the amino acid cysteine. When your body fights against illness your glutathione levels will be depleted, and cysteine helps push them back up again.
You’ve heard the nursery rhyme about Little Miss Muffet, haven’t you? She sits there “eating her curds and whey.” Have you ever wondered what curds and whey are? Curds are the solid parts of dairy products used in making cheese. Whey is the liquid left over. For years, whey was simply discarded as useless, but it has hidden health benefits! It contains high levels of protein but less fat than the curds. Ricotta is a type of cheese made from whey. A low-fat ricotta cheese will give you a good source of whey protein and boost your glutathione levels. Geitost and Urdă are two more types of cheese made from whey. Yogurt and dairy milk also contain whey.
- Fresh vegetables
Cruciferous vegetables such as squash, tomatoes, avocados, kale, asparagus and Brussels sprouts are rich in sulforaphane, which is essential for producing glutathione. They also help to give you glossy hair, strong muscles, maintain your cardiovascular and nervous systems and help with insulin levels. Try not to cook them for too long as you will cook out all the goodness! That’s right, potato fries don’t count, and neither does the tomato on a pizza topping. For the best results, eat these vegetables raw or steam lightly for 3-5 minutes. Parsley is a great herb that will help boost your glutathione levels, and it tastes great, too, so feel free to add it to any meal that needs a splash of flavor. Try snacking on cherry tomatoes as a healthy alternative to potato chips.
- Fresh Fruit
Strawberries, apples, melons, grapefruit, oranges, and banana all help to boost your glutathione levels. As with vegetables, cooking them will neutralize the benefits – so applesauce and strawberry jelly don’t count! Why not try adding some fresh strawberries to your yogurt for a great tasting snack with a fantastic glutathione boost?
- Selenium-rich food
Selenium is required for your body to produce and recycle glutathione. It also helps to regulate your metabolism, which in turn will make you feel more energetic, giving you the oomph you need to exercise. It helps with weight loss and it reduces your risk of heart disease, cancer, and thyroid dysfunction. So what’s not to like? You can find selenium in chicken and turkey, tuna, beef, and eggs. You can also find it in vegan-friendly food such as oatmeal, wholemeal rice, spinach, sunflower seeds, and Brazil nuts. Try switching your white rice for the wholemeal variety, choose oatmeal instead of sugary cereal for your breakfast, and snack on Brazil nuts when you fancy a quick bite.
Cinnamon, cardamom, and turmeric (also known as curcumin) help replenish your glutathione levels when they’ve been depleted. Try adding a dash of cinnamon to your oatmeal at breakfast, or crush some cardamom pods and sprinkle them over vegetables that need a bit of flavor. It’ll give you a glutathione boost, and it tastes fantastic, too!
- De-stress and get plenty of sleep
Studies show that insufficient sleep reduces glutathione levels. This is because your body releases the hormone melatonin when you sleep, and melatonin increases your glutathione levels. If you’re not getting a good night’s sleep then your body won’t make enough of it.
Keep your evenings as stress-free as possible by shutting off distractions, and avoid anything that makes you feel anxious just before bed. This can be a challenge if you have a busy lifestyle or a demanding job, so if you have a lot of stress in your life that you can’t reasonably remove, try designating a specific time of day to deal with those problems, leaving your evenings uncluttered and stress-free, and do whatever activities will help you to relax. Don’t check your work emails just before bed – that’s a sure-fire way to keep you up and awake all night!
Get to bed at a reasonable time, and try stress-reducing exercises such as meditation and yoga before you go to bed. Don’t go to sleep on a full stomach, but make sure you finish eating at least an hour or two before bed, and it goes without saying: no caffeine at bedtime! Drink water or green tea instead to keep yourself well hydrated. All these practices will help to relax your body and give you a more fulfilling night’s sleep.