Glutathione Diet

A Glutathione Diet is our Best Cellular Defense against Stress, Fatigue, Disease and Aging

Glutathione Diet article in TODAY’S DIETITION / January 2005- pgs.22-23.


By Patricia Kongshavn, MSC, PHD

Glutathione (g-glutamylcysteinylglycine, GSH) is a water-soluble tripeptide composed of the amino acids glutamate, cysteine, and glycine. Present in all mammalian cells, it is widely distributed throughout the animal and plant kingdoms, underscoring its fundamental biological significance.

GSH is an endogenous antioxidant of great importance, as well as being a detoxicant of exogenous and endogenous toxic compounds. In addition, it plays an important role in many cell cycle-related events, including protein synthesis and gene expression. Not surprisingly, more than 25,000 medical articles on GSH have appeared over the last five years. A number of review articles have provide the basis for the material presented here.

BENEFITS OF GSH as a key antioxidant responsible for protecting the cell from damage by reactive oxygen species (ROS) such as peroxide, superoxide anion, and the hydroxyl radical. GSH is responsible for detoxification of xenobiotics (eg. benzene compunds, acetaminophen), as well as endogenously produced potentially toxic metabolites such as prostaglandins and leukotreines. Much of this detoxification occurs in the liver and kidneys. These substances are converted into inactivated water-soluble conjugates that can then be easily excreted.

GSH status plays an important role in innumerable cell functions, including gene expression, DNA synthesis and repair, protein synthesis, cytokine production, enzyme activation and signal transduction. This has a broad-reaching effect, one consequence being that GSH affects the ability of cells to proliferate in the body. It is perhaps for this reason that the immune system is paricularly vulnerable to GSH deficiency since lymphocytes need to proliferate to develop an effective immune response.


GSH plays crucial roles in antioxidant defense, detoxification, and the regulation of pathways essential for whole-body homeostasis. GSH deficiency contributes to oxidative stress and therefore appears to play a key role in the pathology of many diseases. Patients with liver disease are GSH-depleted. “Altomare et al,” for instance, studied 35 chronic alcoholic patients and 20 nonalcoholic patients with liver disease (acute and chronic hepatitis, fatty liver, and cirrhosis) and observed decreased GSH in both groups when compared with control patients. These investigations postulated that the decreased GSH contributed to liver injury susceptibility. Thus in patients with liver disease, GSH deficiency exists, which may predispose to further liver toxicity caused by the rsultant inadequate defense mechanisms.

GSH deficiencies have been documented in a number of pulmonary diseases, including acute respiratory distress syndrome, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), cystic fibrosis, and neonatal lung damage. GSH concentrations in the epithelial lining fluid (ELF) are only 25% of normal values in IPF, for example: the ELF normally contains 150 times more GSH than in other tissues, where it serves to protect the lungs against oxidative damage, environmental toxins and atmospheric pollutants. Low levels of GSH lead to inflammation and oxidative stress with resultant damage to cell membranes, cellular proteins and DNA.

The brain is highly susceptible to oxidative damage, and a depletion of antioxidants, including GSH, has been reported in Parkinson’s, Alzheimers, and some other degenerative brain diseases. In Parkinson’s disease, GSH levels are dramatically reduced in the substantia nigra (the area of the brain associated with this disease). In Alzheimers disease, GSH is dcreased in the cortical areas and the hippocampus. The cause-and-effect relationship between low GSH, oxidative stress and neural cell death is strongly suggestive: however, it has not clearly been established as yet in these pathological states.

Low GSH values are found in cancer patients, especially in those with wasting in late-stage disease. Evidence suggests that GSH is important to protect the body against the development of malignancy and maeliorate the side effects of therapy. The intracellular depletion of GSH has been implicated, for example, in the development of cancer in the prostate. The antioxidant and detoxifying properties of GSH are important to protecting cells against abnormal intracellular levels of ROS and chemical carcinogens that can lead to cancer development.

It has been well-established that the GSH pool is unusually low in individuals with HIV/AIDS. This can be partially attributed to chronic oxidative stress. GSH deficiency in HIV/AIDS is an important issue, contributing to many of the complications of this disease, particularly the immune deficiency. Thus, many lymphocyte functions are compromised by low GSH, such as lymphocyte proliferation or the destruction of virally infected cells by “killer” lymphocytes. Furthermore, an imbalance of the GSH status indirectly results in upregulation of inflammatory cytokines (some of which promote wasting), increased viral replication, and increased opoptosis (death) of T lymphocytes. In 1997, Herzenberg et al directly demonstrated the critical importance of GSH by showing that HIV-positive individuals with higher GSH levels survived significantly better than those with lower values.

Pressure ulcers often fail to heal, one reason being lack of amino acids needed for growth of new tissue. GSH deficiency is another important factor since most pressure ulcer patients are older and at the same time are suffering from many other medical conditions. The GSH system plays an important role in many of the processes involved in wound healing, such as opposing the oxidative stress associated with inflammation and infection, and participating in many of the processes associated with proliferation of cells to form new tissue. Direct evidence for the role of GSH in wound repair has been shown in experimental mouse and rat models.

When the amino acids (cysteine in particular) are not available to make GSH, these must be obtained from breakdown of lean muscle mass. This can lead to protein malnutrition and ultimately to wasting. This condition is seen, for example, in advanced cancer patients, older adults, and patients with pressure ulcers.


Popular theory holds that the process of aging is a function of “free radical damage.” ROS accumulate in the tissues faster than they can be neutralized by the antioxidant capacity of the cells, thus implicating the GSH system. In support of this idea, a progressive loss of intracellular GSH has been observed in aged tissues. Thus, Lang et al found that 40 young subjects (aged 20 to 39) had a blood GSH value averaging 17% higher than 60 older subjects (aged 60 to 79). Julius et al measured GSH concentrations in 33 people aged 60 to 79 and found a direct relationship between higher GSH values and increasing age with good health.


Some GSH is obtained directly from the diet (averaging 150 milligrams per day), especially fruits and vegetables, but the majority of the body’s GSH must be synthesizes intracellularly. Much of this occurs in the liver. Approximately 80% of the liver GSH is exported to the plasma and is largely used by the kidneys for detoxification. A number of strategies exist for assisting the body in GSH repletion.

Oral administration of GSH is not effective, although intact aerosol GSH can be delivered directly into the lungs in pulmonary disease to raise GSH levels in the epithelial lining fluid. Intravenous delivery is also effective but impractical.

GSH synthesis is limited by the availability of cysteine, so provision of this amino acid provides the means whereby GSH synthesis can be augmented. Free cysteine, however, is unsafe for routine oral administration since it readily auto-oxidizes in the circulation to form potentially toxic degradation products. Cysteine can be generated from methionine (via S-adenosylmethionine to homocyteine to cysteine), which is available as a dietary supplement, but this pathway may be inactive in neonates and adults with liver disease. Moreover, the body utilizes methionine in two otho beer metabolic pathways as well.

A number of drugs exist that can be used orally to deliver cysteine precursors. Of these, N-acetyl cysteine appears to be the safest and most frequently used. Depending on the dose given, side effects have been reported, including nausea and other gastrointestinal problems, rash and wheezing.

The best and most natural source of cysteine for GSH synthesis comes from dietary protein. It has recently been discovered that whey proteins provide the richest source of this amino acid. It is present as cystine (two molecules of cysteine linked by a disulfide bond), which is more stable than cysteine. The disulfide bond is pepsin- and -trypsin-resistant but may be split by heat and mechanical stress. Thus, only whey proteins that have been prepared using very gentle processes retain cysteine. Following digestion, the cysteine is absorbed from the gut intact and only split into cysteine once it is safely inside the cell.

Nutritional strategies for raising GSH in patients with many of these conditions should prove highly beneficial.


Author – Patricia Kongshavn, MSC, PHD, is a former full professor, faculty of medicine, McGill University, Montreal, and currently acts as a consultant for Immunotec Research Ltd., Montreal.

Glutathione Immune Health

Glutathione (pronounced Gloo-ta-thigh-own) and also known as GSH, is the master antioxidant.

Glutathione molecule
Glutathione molecule

Glutathione GSH is found inside every cell of our body’s immune system working tirelessly, 24 hours each day, to protect our immune health and overall well being.

Our bodies are constantly exposed to harmful elements in daily living that actually accelerate raging by starting to damage our health cells.

Statistics indicate that more than 10,000 baby boomers a day are turning sixty-five years of age. The ‘baby boom’ phenomenon has been an economic stimulus for the past several decades and has the potential to be a major economic burden in decades to come.

Baby Boomers rely on the production of glutathione for superior immune system health and function.

Free-radicals (unstable molecules that can harm cells) are produced by the body as a normal part of breathing and metabolism.

In addition, certain environmental triggers create an increase in free-radical production, such as exercise, infections, pollution, stress, unhealthy foods and radiation with sunlight or X-rays.

Our natural defence against free-radicals and the promotion of anti-aging is to acquire more antioxidants. These are vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that stop the spread of free-radicals.

There are two basic kinds of antioxidants; those you make and those you take. Glutathione is both, an antioxidant produced in the body and through the consumption of a balanced, healthy diet.

paleodiet2Fresh fruit and vegetables are ideal food sources or the rejuvenation of glutathione because they are loaded with antioxidants and flavonoids and other nutrients that actually stimulate glutathione production and they are readily available.

Flavonoids are responsible for the vivid colours in fruits and vegetables. The richer the colour the more flavonoids contained in them.

Asparagus, avocados, brussel sprouts, cabbage, chives, leeks, onions, scallions, shallots, spinach and most fresh fruit with special attention to berries are particularly beneficial for our immune system.

Other natural sources of glutathione include whey protein, raw eggs, raw meat, blue-green algae, herbs and spices such as cur-cumin (turmeric), garlic and milk thistle.


Milk Thistle is a well studied, and very potent antioxidant that helps prevent glutathione depletion by detoxifying the liver ensuring a natural replenishment of glutathione. Superior immune system health and function is our best cellular defence against disease, fatigue, illness, premature aging, pollution, stress, viruses and more.

Antioxidants in Tart Cherries

The Doctor is in – A Cherry a Day, Keeps the Doctor Away… – By Dr Jimmy Gutman, MD FACEP

When we think of Cherriescherries, the legend of young George Washington chopping down his father’s cherry tree comes to mind.

Actually the whole cherry tree incident was a story thought up by one of George Washington’s biographers in order to make the biography more interesting and to express a moral; not a historical fact – simply a myth.

Now what about cherries themselves? What about all the stories about their health benefits?

Are these also myths? What is the scientific evidence behind the claims?

My most reliable source determining medical credibility is “PubMed” – the internet warehouse of worldwide scientific journals.

This site requires all my patience, experience and creativity to squeeze out any good juice. It can be the pits, and with this, I’ll stop using any more puns!

Using key words like “sour cherry” and “prunus cerasus” led me down several paths. Some looked at certain illnesses and the response to tart cherries.

Some looked at the specific components found in tart cherries that had health potential. All had me scratching my head, asking myself, “why didn’t I know this before?”

As a Newsweek article stated, “The day when doctors say “take 10 cherries and call me in the morning”, may not be far off.”

The discovery of the health benefits of tart cherries is part of a larger awareness of the role of foods that offer specific health benefits. Let’s look at some of the more interesting findings!

Melatonin Molecule

Melatonin has been shown to have significant anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-cancer properties, as well as improving natural sleep patterns.

Research at the University of Texas by world-renown melatonin expert, Dr Russell J. Reiter, has demonstrated that tart cherries contain exceptionally high levels of melatonin, and it is present in the form most readily utilized by the body. For more information on the different types of doctors, click on the link.

Most melatonin supplements on the market are not sold in this natural state.

Scientists at Michigan State University were the first to identify the presence of numerous natural compounds in tart cherries with antioxidant properties.

In fact, Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) test show that tart cherry juice contains over four times the amount of antioxidants found in prunes, blueberries and strawberries, and close to ten times that of oranges and grapes!

Anthocyanin’s are naturally occurring compounds that give fruits, vegetables and plants their vivid pigmentation. Nutritionists always harp of the importance of eating loud colours!

According to the Journal of Natural Products, the “antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of the anthocyanin and cyanidin suggest that consumption of cherries may have the potential to reduce cardiovascular disease in humans”.

Proanthocyanins are a group of flavonoids that also show up in red wine. These too, are powerful free radical scavengers and antioxidants.

People who follow a mediterranean style diet, which contains anthocyanins and proanthocyanins, have been noted for good health and longevity.

Their diets and general health are sometimes referred to as the French Paradox because they consume large amounts of saturated fats and yet exhibit low rates of heart disease.

The USDA National Nutrition Database indicates that tart cherry is higher in Vitamin A, betacarotene, thiamin, and phosphorus than strawberries, blueberries, and apples. Vitamin A plays an important role in vision, bone growth, reproduction, cell division and cell differentiation.

The Vitamin A and betacarotene levels are astounding… tart cherries have almost 20 times as much Vitamin A and betacarotene as strawberries and blueberries!

This article contains excerpts from the article “The Doctor Is In” by Dr Jimmy Gutman.