The most important molecule you’ve never heard of
What better way to protect your yourself and your baby than firing up the body’s own protection mechanisms?
This is Glutathione: the most important molecule that perhaps you’ve never heard of. This article will explain what it is, how it works, how you can get more of it and most importantly how it protects your developing baby.
So what is it? What does it really do? Why is it so important?
Understanding how this wonder molecule works, starts with understanding how our bodies are damaged in the first place by ‘toxic’ elements in our environment. In a nutshell these toxins cause what is known as ‘oxidative stress’ within our cells. In excess, this is the root of damage to our bodies and makes having a healthy baby that much more challenging.
So, what is oxidative stress?
Its a term you probably see often, and probably conceptually know isnt good, but, what does it really mean?
I always find I am much more likely to make a change if I really understand something (better than just being told), so I think it's well worth taking just a couple of minutes to really understand this:
Oxidation is a normal part of the body’s function and metabolism (it happens for example when your body uses oxygen to produce energy). Like with most processes there is waste produced as a result. The consequence/waste here is the production of what is known as ‘free radicals’.
This happens every day during the life and the normal processes within our cells. We also have antioxidants (as you probably know - the good guys) which help ‘mop up’ this waste keeping everything in a nice balance.
So ideally you want the waste (free radicals) balanced with the mop (antioxidants).
So far so good….
However, oxidation also happens when the immune system is fighting an infection, when inflammation (click here to learn more about that particular pest) occurs and also when our bodies are trying to detoxify pollutants. In a nutshell - when our bodies are working extra hard protecting us we are turbo charging the oxidation. That = many, many more free radicals and potentially many more problems.
When we get more free radicals than antioxidants in our body we have trouble. It damages cells, our DNA and proteins. We get an imbalance = Not good.
Reducing the number of pollutants we are faced with is of course a obvious first port of call, but, we all know with even the best will in the world we can't escape it entirely. Here is the good news:
There is another way - and that is boosting our body’s ability to ‘mop’ this waste up.
Enter stage left: Antioxidants…
You’ve probably heard that these are ‘good’ for us, without perhaps realising exactly why they are so important (I was the same). Boosting your body’s own supply of antioxidants is key to rebalancing all the nasties that we produce fighting toxins.
This is where Glutathione comes in: the most important molecule you’ve never heard of…
Known as the mother of all antioxidants. Now, the common thread in most individuals with chronic disease is a lack of this molecule and this is not un-researched. There are thousands of articles researching and discussing how fundamental this is to your body’s defence mechanism, immune system and preventing inflammation. The upside here is that your body produces it naturally, but the bad news is that the more you’re faced with these environmental challenges the more depleted it becomes and the more vulnerable you become to further hits - so building it up as much as possible is key from a prevention perspective.
How does it really work and why is it so important?
In fact, it has been shown to be extremely effective in dealing with heavy metal exposures in particular (click here for a reminder why they are such a threat) and is in fact the dominant agent that will bind and help move the likes of mercury and other heavy metals out of your tissues. It is known as a ‘chelating agent’ (essentially it bonds), its also an antioxidant (as above) and a mechanism of signalling to a cell to respond to ‘oxidative stress’. Ideally it passes the toxin from your cells in to bile and out via the stool.
‘After forming nontoxic complexes with metals, Glutathione facilitates their sequestration away from sensitive sites in cells...not only free metals but also potentially dangerous xenobiotics like herbicides... are bound to Glutathione’ (1)
The irony is that certain factors you perhaps wouldn’t expect have been shown to deplete this key protective molecule including Acetaminophen - what is this??? Its Paracetamol. So, ironically enough if you’re giving a baby a dose of the likes of Calpol (which contains Paracetamol) after a vaccine you’re giving them a double hit administering a dose of heavy metal and then taking down the body’s natural ability to extract it. Ouch. So if the baby is older than three months go with Ibuprofen suitable for babies and children.
How to boost it in a natural way?
What you eat: sulphur rich foods - think stinky ie. garlic, onions, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, kale and other cruciferous vegetables (its worth it!)
Asparagus, peaches, spinach and tomatoes
B Vitamins and Folate (Biotin, B6 and B12)
Selenium (Walnuts are a good natural source)
Whey Protein (but make sure you look for organic and grass fed)
Milk Thistle (key for the liver the body’s own natural detoxer)
Foods that are also high in antioxidants themselves are also a good idea:
Nuts and seeds
Turmeric and Cinnamon
In terms of super charging your body’s own defences, it doesn’t get much better than this. Load up and get high on your own supply!
JOZEFCZAK M, REMANS T, CUYERS A: Glutathione is a key player in metal-induced oxidative stress defences: International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 2012. 13(3) 3145-3175
This article is for informational purposes only. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. The information on this website has been developed following years of personal research and from referenced and sourced medical research. Before making any changes we strongly recommend you consult a healthcare professional before you begin.