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We need a healthy cell membrane to allow glucose (sugar) to enter each cell in the body. The cell uses glucose to make the energy molecule ATP ( Adenosine triphosphate ); which is the fuel for all our cells. Insufficient fuel and we will feel tired and cold and the body cannot generate enough energy and heat.
An organelle called the mitochondria is the “energy factory” of the cell. Inside the mitochondria the glucose molecule is further broken down into the maximum amount of ATP in the presence of oxygen. During the manufacturing process of making ATP electrons can escape from the power grid; these free electrons are now called “free radicals” and they are unstable and highly reactive. They do not want to be left in an “unpaired” state so they attach themselves to available molecules. If they attach to the molecule oxygen, “superoxide” is created which is a Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) and it is capable of damaging cells and tissues. Reactive Oxygen Species are a by-product of energy production and can damage our energy factories; the mitochondria. It is for this reason that the formation of Reactive Oxygen Species need to be controlled.
The formation of ROS can be controlled by ensuring sufficient CoQ10 dietary intake. CoQ10 is a transport molecule that moves electrons along the electron transport chain inside the mitochondria. Insufficient CoQ10 and there is greater risk of electrons escaping and becoming free radicals.
Escaped electrons can be captured by the molecule melatonin and stabilized. Melatonin is the “suicide molecule” as it cannot be reused once it captures a free radical.
The glutathione molecule can also capture free radicals and has the added benefit of being able to recycle itself and therefore can be used over and over. Cells can produce glutathione but we need to ensure a dietary intake of the substrates to make it. Sulfur rich foods like beef, fish and poultry contain the substrates: methionine and cysteine. These are key ingredients to make glutathione. Vegetarian sources of sulfur are cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, watercress and mustard greens.
Allium vegetables, including garlic, shallots and onions, also boost glutathione levels — likely due to their sulfur-containing compounds.
If your diet is insufficient in these foods, you can supplement with N acetyl- cysteine which is a precursor to glutathione. You can also take glutathione supplements directly but they can be expensive and are less bio-available (less absorbed). It is best to take liposomal glutathione which means the glutathione has been encased in a fatty jacket that helps with absorption.
Some foods like blueberries and strawberries can stimulate your own production of glutathione. While blueberries are described as “anti-oxidant” foods, they are themselves not anti-oxidants, but stimulate the body’s production of anti-oxidants.
Reactive Oxygen Species are not all bad. The cell can use them as weapons against bacteria to kill them. So we do not want to eliminate all ROS but we also do not want them to build up in an out of control manner.
Excessive amounts of ROS will result in a state of “oxidative stress”. Too many free radicals can result in excessive cell and tissue damage that can lead to pathology and disease.
The by-product of using oxygen to break up glucose to make our cellular fuel ATP is the production of reactive oxygen species. We need to manage this negative factor by optimizing function of our own innate anti-oxidant system and production of anti-oxidants like melatonin and glutathione. We also need to have sufficient CoQ10 to prevent the escape of electrons in the first place.
Both inflammation and oxidative stress are associated with disease states and we need to control both.
We need to protect our energy factories - the mitochondria organelles in our cells! They are most at risk from Reactive Oxygen Species which not only damage our mitochondria but can create a cascading effect of oxidative stress resulting in tissue injury and disease. Fortunately we can enhance our body's own anti-oxidant system with dietary and lifestyle changes.
We need to eat foods that help produce and stimulate this system and we can take supplements for support.
The following nutrients are critical for increasing glutathione synthesis:
Possibly the use of low molecular weight antioxidants: lipoic acid and Vitamins C and E
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