Glutathione – The Most Powerful Antioxidant of Them All
If the term “antioxidant” brings to mind the blueberries on your cereal or the acai bowl you had for lunch, you’re not alone – and you’re not wrong. Berries and other fruits & veggies are a great source of antioxidants, and should be a regular part of a healthy, balanced diet. However, if your antioxidant intake relies solely on dietary sources, you may be missing out on the most powerful and potent of them all: Glutathione.
Unlike many of the antioxidants we consume, glutathione is naturally produced by our bodies and is our first line of defense against the free radicals that wreak havoc on our cells. Although some food sources like spinach, avocado, asparagus, and okra are rich in glutathione, our digestive system is not well equipped to properly absorb glutathione and therefore very little is available for our bodies to use after oral consumption.
The consequences of glutathione deficiency range from a lack of energy, foggy brain, and poor sleep to more serious complications arising from compromised immunity. Stress, chronic illnesses, age, and sedentary lifestyles are linked to low levels of glutathione, so we all have a reason for concern.
To help you assess your current glutathione intake and determine the best route for meeting your body’s needs, we have broken down the process of oxidation, the role glutathione plays in mitigating this process, and clinical best practices for increasing systemic glutathione levels. Let’s dive in!
Oxidation and Free Radicals – A Fact of Life
The simple act of breathing and being exposed to oxygen propels the oxidation process in the body. In this process, the oxygen we take in is converted into energy by our cells. A byproduct of this conversion is free radicals.
Free radicals get a bad name because of the damage that they can cause to our cellular integrity. This damage, known as oxidative stress, produces a domino effect in which the presence of free radicals attracts the electrons contained in the molecules of our cells, destabilizing the molecules and turning them into free radicals themselves. Quickly, free radical concentrations rise and the damage incurred compounds.
Several factors contribute to our bodies susceptibility to oxidative stress including pollution, radiation & sun exposure, smoking (first or second hand), alcohol consumption, chemical and pesticide exposure, and over consumption of highly processed, sugary, or fatty foods. The result of long-term oxidative stress is chronic inflammation, disease, and premature aging.
While free radicals are often villainized in health & wellness literature, the damage that they cause actually serves a purpose – stimulating cellular regeneration and repair by antioxidants. A healthy body is not void of free radicals all together; rather, a healthy body achieves a balance between free radical exposure and antioxidants in order to ward off oxidative stress.
Glutathione – The First Line of Defense Against Oxidative Stress
As you’ve likely guessed by this point, antioxidants are the protagonist of this story. Earlier, we described the domino effect of oxidative stress, in which molecules lose electrons, becoming free radicals themselves. Antioxidants bring this process to a halt by donating electrons back to destabilized molecules, effectively repairing the molecule and returning balance to the cell.
Amongst the ranks of antioxidants, glutathione reigns supreme. What makes glutathione unique is its ability to not only halt the domino effect of free radical formation but also to solve for the causes of oxidative stress itself. It does this through the process of detoxification, promoting excretion of naturally-produced and externally-consumed compounds that lead to oxidative stress such as chemical pollutants, atmospheric pollutants, and alcohol.
Thanks to its detoxification properties, glutathione unlocks improved function for many of our bodily organs including:
- The Skin – Stimulates collagen production and decreases the appearance of wrinkles
- The Brain – Drives improved cognitive function and is currently in clinical trails for the treatment of the neurodegenerative disease Parkinson’s
- The Immune System – Decreases susceptibility to infections
- The Endocrine System – Provides the optimal environment for hormone production
Glutathione is the topic of mounting research, and as new findings come to light, you can be sure that this laundry list of health benefits will only grow.
IV Therapy – The Key to Optimal Glutathione Absorption
So now that we know all of the great things glutathione can do for our health, how do we ensure that we supply our bodies with enough to achieve these results? Because our digestive system breaks down 90% of dietary glutathione, intravenous administration is a much more effective route for optimal absorption.
IV therapy delivers nutrients directly to our bloodstream, bypassing the digestive system and making glutathione available for use by our body immediately. The best place to get glutathione is from a medical clinic that specializes in IV therapy like Spark Health. If you are interested in learning more about our IV offerings, or would like to book an IV therapy appointment contact us.
Spark Health Integrative Medicine is located in Solana Beach, San Diego County, CA. Founded in 2013, we take a collaborative approach to natural medicine, partnering with patients to help them achieve their unique health and wellness goals. If you would like to perform better in the areas of life that matter most to you, book a consultation with one of our doctors today!
~The Spark Team