The Importance Of Glutathione For Autoimmune Disease
People with autoimmune disease have too much inflammation in their bodies. Glutathione is a natural substance your own body makes. It reduces inflammation and helps eliminate toxins. People with autoimmune disease usually can’t make enough of it. This can make their symptoms worse.
Glutathione is an antioxidant. It’s actually the most powerful antioxidant because it is made in your own body, helping to protect you from the chemicals we are all exposed to each day. Glutathione is made in your liver. You need an extremely healthy liver in order to make sufficient glutathione. It’s not just alcohol that adversely affects the liver. Many common health conditions such as fatty liver, gut problems like irritable bowel, food sensitivities, chronic infections, nutrient deficiencies and immune problems all impair glutathione production.
Having a health problem can make you deficient in glutathione, but also having low glutathione puts you at risk of health problems. It’s a vicious cycle.
What is glutathione?
It is a small molecule made from 3 amino acids (building blocks of protein). These amino acids are glutamine, cysteine and glycine. Several nutrients are required for the manufacture of glutathione, especially selenium, vitamin C and glutamine. Being deficient in these will impair your production of this vital compound. Fortunately, there are several ways of boosting your production of glutathione.
What are the symptoms of low glutathione?
The following are possible symptoms:
- Brain fog
- Aches and pains (fibromyalgia)
- Weak immune system
- Joint pain
How to boost your body’s production of glutathione
- Selenium is required for glutathione production. You probably know how important selenium is for the health of your immune system and thyroid gland. It is also a powerful antioxidant and this is largely because of its role in glutathione production. Many parts of the world have selenium deficient soils and very few foods are a rich source of this mineral. The best food sources of selenium include Brazil nuts, seafood, onion and garlic. Getting plenty of those foods in your diet is a good way of maintaining your health, but if you wish to improve your health, you may need to take a selenium supplement.
- N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) is the precursor of glutathione and can be taken in supplement form. Studies have shown that most oral forms of glutathione are not well absorbed. The body tends to digest it to its building blocks and blood levels of glutathione don’t rise significantly. NAC supplements tend to be far more effective. This substance has a long history of use; it is given to patients who overdose on Tylenol because it can prevent liver damage. NAC also helps to protect the kidneys from potential harm caused by contrast dyes used in diagnostic scans. Taking an NAC supplement each day can help to protect your body from oxidative damage and help to make you a more efficient detoxifier.
- Methylation nutrients are important. Methylation is a process that assists your body’s production of glutathione. The main nutrients required for methylation are B vitamins, particularly B6, B9 (folate) and B12. B12 is found in animal foods such as meat, poultry and seafood, while plant foods are an excellent source of the other B vitamins. It is important to eat lots of vegetables each day, either as salads, vegetable juices, smoothies, or cooked vegetables.
- Sulfur is needed for glutathione production. Sulfur is found in cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, onion, garlic, leek and eggs. If you don’t include much of these foods in your diet, you can take a natural sulfur supplement called MSM. This stands for methyl sulfonyl methane. It is traditionally taken by people who want to improve their liver health and also reduce joint pain, but MSM is also necessary for glutathione production.
- Try to get some movement each day. Exercise boosts your body’s production of glutathione. As long as you don’t exercise to complete exhaustion, exercise acts as a minor stress on your body, boosts your immune system and improves your detoxification abilities. It is often said that “sitting is inflammatory” because inactivity raises your body’s production of inflammation generating compounds. Exercise helps to counteract that.
For more information about autoimmune disease see our book Healing Autoimmune Disease: A plan to help your immune system and reduce inflammation.
The above statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.