Modern medicine wants to kill your gut bacteria.
Most doctors don’t get that we need these microbes to survive and thrive.
Since medical school, I’ve been fascinated by the ecosystem of microbes we carry around. There are more than 100 trillion of these tiny bugs living in your gut, mouth, skin and elsewhere in your body.
That’s more than all the cells in your body.
And when the “bad bacteria” in your gut crowd out the “good bacteria,” you get an increase in disease and aging. In fact, your immune system relies on this balance to fight infection.
But the latest research reveals why the right balance of these tiny bugs prevents and often reverse the chronic diseases that age and ultimately kill us.
Scientists in Sweden have just discovered that those “good” microbes in your gut regulate the levels of glutathionei, your body’s most powerful antioxidant.
Glutathione (pronounced gloo-tah-thigh-ohne) is a critical part of your body’s natural mechanism for warding off disease. I’ve been recommending ways to boost my patients’ glutathione levels for years to help them live long and well.
You can do it, too.
In fact, here at Sears Institute for Anti-Aging Medicine, I offer glutathione intravenously to my patients — and it’s worked wonders with them.
The evidence of Glutathione’s power has around for a long time. Back in 1998, Danish researchers compared people aged 100 to 105 with people aged 60 to 79 — and found the centenarians had much higher levels of glutathione. And those who were most active had the very highest levels.ii
The problem today is that our modern world kills off many of the good bacteria that help your body produce glutathione naturally.
That’s because antibiotics kill off both good and bad microbes. Chlorine in our water does the same thing. Even our industrial food supply has fewer good bacteria.
But glutathione is so important, many scientists now call it the “master antioxidant.”
Glutathione is critical for protecting your cells from the damaging effects of oxidative stress and toxins — both of which are major causes of the inflammation at the root of all modern chronic diseases.
Without enough glutathione, your body can’t get rid of cellular garbage, and all the toxins you are exposed to just build and build — because you can’t mop them up.
High glutathione levels ramp up your neuroimmune system. And without a healthy neuroimmune system, inflammation runs rampant through your body and keeps you chronically ill with diseases like arthritis, diabetes, heart disease and cancer.iii
In other words, your body turns into a shopping spree for free radicals — and that’s a very bad bargain for your health.
Yet most doctors still ignore this master antioxidant. They’ll tell you the body produces enough by itself and that glutathione supplements are ineffective.
We already know that even the healthiest people face an increased threat from our modern environment. And things like prescription and over-the-counter medications, toxins, pollutants, lifestyle, weight gain, increasing age — they all sap your body’s glutathione stores.
Scientists at Penn State University School of Medicine recently gathered the first-ever, long-term, human clinical trial data on the impact of glutathione supplements.iv The results not only confirmed what I’ve seen in my clinic, they also overturned long-held beliefs that supplementation doesn’t work.
The study showed glutathione levels in the blood increased after one, three and six months of supplementation. And after six months, subjects saw a 30% to 35% increase of glutathione in the blood. There was also a significant reduction in oxidative stress after six months of supplementation.v
Glutathione is actually a chain of three amino acids, and unfortunately it declines with age — just when you need it most.
But here’s how you can boost your levels…
The first thing to do is take care of your good bacteria, or “probiotics.” The new Swedish study shows your gut bacteria regulates glutathione and amino acid metabolism in your intestine, liver and colon.
The study showed some of these gut bacteria consumed glycine, one of the three amino acids required for the synthesis of the body’s glutathione. So with the wrong balance of gut bacteria, your body doesn’t have enough glycine to make healthy amounts of glutathione.
Low glycine levels have also been linked to type 2 diabetes and non-alcoholic liver disease.
You can help the good bacteria in your gut flourish by following a few simple tips:
- Stay hydrated. This helps good bacteria establish themselves in your gut.
- Buy organic fruits and vegetables. And don’t wash them too well. Your gut welcomes good bacteria from organic foods.
- Eat organic yogurt or kefir. These fermented milk products restore good bacteria to your digestive system. Avoid products with added sugars or flavorings.
- Eat raw sauerkraut. Fermented cabbage delivers billions of beneficial microbes in every mouthful. Avoid canned kraut. The processing kills good bacteria.
But you can also “cook up” glutathione in your cells if you have three necessary amino acids on board —glycine N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) and glutamic acid (glutamate).
One easy way to ensure you’re getting all three amino acids is to supplement with whey protein.vi I add it to my morning smoothie. But be sure to get pure whey from pasture-raised animals, so it’s free of toxins and hormones.
Other supplements that help boost your levels are:
- L-Glutamine. Take 1,000 mg three times a day.
- N-acetyl cysteine. Clinical trials show NAC directly boosts glutathione. Take from 1,800 mg to 2,400 mg a day.
- Selenium. Your body needs 55 mcg per day of this mineral to synthesize glutathione. One Brazil nut is all it takes.
To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, MD, CNS
iThe gut microbiota modulates host amino acid and glutathione metabolism in mice, Mardinoglu A, Shoaie S, Bergentall M, Ghaffari P, Zhang C, Larsson E, Bäckhed F, Nielsen J, Molecular Systems Biology, doi: 10.15252/msb.20156487, published online 16 October 2015.
iiAndersen HR, “Lower Activity of Superoxide Dismutase and High Activity of Glutathione Reductase in Erythrocytes from Centenarians.” Age and Aging 1998;27:643-648.
iiiJulius M. “Glutathione and morbidity in a community-based sample of elderly.” Journal of Clinical Epidemiology. 1994;47(9):1021-1026.
ivRichie, J. et al. Randomized controlled trial of oral glutathione supplementation on body stores of glutathione. Eur J Nutr. 5 May 2014
viBounous G, et al. “The influence of dietary why protein on tissue glutathione and the diseases of aging.” Clin Invest Med. 1989;12(6):343-9.