“Antioxidant,” is a 2019 buzzword that we know links to being good for us, but not many of us fully understand what antioxidants are and why they are beneficial to our health.
From IG-worthy acai bowls to energizing and colorful natural juices, we habitually seek our antioxidants from food sources. However, the most potent antioxidant, termed “ The Superhero of Antioxidant s” by Dr. Oz, is actually produced by our own bodies and is made from three essential amino acids: glutamate, cysteine, and glycine.
Also deemed “The Mother of Antioxidants,” glutathione (GSH) is not only critical to preventing disease but to detoxification and overall healthy immune function .
What is an Antioxidant, Free Radicals, and Oxidative Stress?
An antioxidant is a molecule that reduces oxidative stress on a cellular level by combating free radicals and preventing them from stealing electrons and causing damage to proteins, DNA and cell membranes, a process commonly known as oxidation.
In short, antioxidants keep free radicals from running wild, and glutathione levels are a determining factor in keeping free radicals in check and detoxification. Without either of these processes functioning smoothly, free radicals cause detrimental damage to cells, our bodies do not detoxify and naturally, the onset of chronic disease begins
To put it simply, oxidative stress is necessary for the development of several diseases:
- Cardiovascular disease
Without sufficient levels of antioxidants, most especially glutathione, free radical levels exceed out of control and cause chronic levels of oxidative stress and the onset of disease. Symptoms of low glutathione levels include but are not limited to vomiting, headaches, depression, anemia,lack of energy, aching joints, frequent colds, etc.
How Can Glutathione Help Individuals with HIV Disease?
According to the World Health Organization , approximately 37 million people worldwide are living with HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) , 3.5 million HIV positive currently living in the United States.
Decades of health care research has confirmed that high levels of intracellular glutathione (GSH) assists in interference between the HIV virus and target cells. Additionally, subsequent studies have found that many HIV-infected people suffer from glutathione deficiency.
Cells, like CD4, that are meant to aid in immune defense and trigger the body’s response to infections are actually targeted for infection by HIV and used as hosts for replicating the virus. HIV kills the CD4 cell, rendering it unable to trigger an immune response which leaves the body prone to more infection, decreased T-cell counts and function. T-cells are a subset of white blood cells that play a crucial role in immune system function as well.
Many do not realize the important role glutathione plays in the immune system’s natural detoxification process. Several significant studies have demonstrated how increased glutathione levels can help HIV infected individuals have higher quality lives and in turn possibly increase longevity. It is imperative for patients with HIV/AIDS to maintain GSH levels as a means of preserving the defenses of their immune system.
The Important Role of N-Acetylcysteine in HIV Patients
Physicians also concentrate on N-acetylcysteine (NAC) for their patients with HIV/AIDS because NAC has been found to sustain and promote glutathione levels in blood cells . Research centered around HIV/AIDS shows that taking NAC orally over an eight week period may increase T-cell glutathione levels and patient quality of life. Specifically, the benefits of NAC originate from decreases the levels of oxidative stress induced by glycoprotein 120, a protein specific to HIV.
The Good News About Glutathione Levels
We can increase our glutathione levels naturally as well as via effective and safe methods of supplementation and treatments available at Drip Doctors.
- Decrease Alcohol Consumption – Happy hour doesn’t have the happiest of effects on your body, especially when it comes to glutathione. Excessive alcohol consumption is proven to decrease glutathione levels , increase free radicals and cause havoc on your immune system. Sometimes we should cut back on drinking to not only avoid a health problem but live as fully as possible. After all, our health is our greatest wealth.
- Step Up Your Exercise Game – Working out is beneficial to your glutathione levels in a paradoxical manner; workouts temporarily deplete glutathione levels but stimulates your body to generate more glutathione long-term. Regular exercise , especially intense workouts, are an effective natural supplement to boost glutathione levels. For example, practicing yoga regularly has been shown to maintain and increase levels of glutathione.
- Oral Dietary Supplement – There are several oral glutathione supplements available that may increase glutathione levels if taken daily over the course of six months. However, the factor of inconvenience translates into a percentage of non-compliance when it comes to daily oral supplements.
- Increase Antioxidants in Your Diet – Eating foods rich in antioxidants and in vitamins essential to glutathione production is a great way to jumpstart and increase the state of health of your immune system. The following foods are very antioxidant rich:
- Green tea
- Red wine
- Do Not Skimp on Sleep – An ample amount of sleep on a regular basis is essential for the maintenance of glutathione levels. Long term, skipping on sleep can increase oxidative stress and free radicals. Recent research demonstrated that chronic lack of sleep may decrease glutathione levels, and levels of glutathione are commonly lower in people who suffer from insomnia.