A recent study has found that supplementation with glutathione could help reverse liver damage associated with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). NAFLD is characterized by the accumulation of excess fat in the liver, which, if left untreated, can progress to a more aggressive form of liver disease called nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). NASH is accompanied by inflammation that eventually damages liver cells, impairing liver function. In the U.S., around 100 million individuals are estimated to have NAFLD, most of whom are overweight or obese, diabetic and have high cholesterol or high triglyceride levels.
Glutathione is an antioxidant that’s composed of three nonessential amino acids, namely, glutamine, glycine, and cysteine. It helps eliminate drugs, alcohol and toxins from the liver. Glutathione is also known to fight harmful free radicals, which are unstable molecules that cause damage to DNA, lipids and proteins.
Glutathione as treatment for NAFLD
According to Donald B. Jump, a professor at Oregon State University, the rise in the number of NAFLD cases in America is due to the standard American diet (SAD), which is high in sugar, unhealthy fats and cholesterol.
“Many people eating a common American diet are developing extensive hepatic fibrosis, or scarring of their liver, which can reduce its capacity to function, and sometimes lead to cancer,” he warned.
But a recent study conducted by Japanese researchers found that NAFLD patients showed improvement after taking 300 mg of glutathione per day for four months. Prior to supplementation, the patients underwent a 3-month intervention to improve their diet and physical activity levels. Comparison of clinical parameters measured before and after glutathione treatment showed that supplementation significantly decreased the patients’ triglyceride, non-esterified fatty acid and ferritin levels.
High triglyceride levels are linked to the hardening of the arteries, also known as arteriosclerosis. High levels of non-esterified (free) fatty acids, which are released from triglycerides, contribute to the development of metabolic problems, such as hepatic insulin resistance. Meanwhile, high levels of ferritin, a blood protein that contains iron, is associated with inflammatory conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis and liver disease.
Besides preventing these health problems, the study showed that glutathione significantly decreased blood levels of alanine aminotransferase (ALT) — an enzyme commonly found in liver cells — in NAFLD patients. High ALT levels is an indication of liver damage.
Other benefits of glutathione
Several studies have found a link between glutathione levels and good health. A Danish study, for instance, reported that older adults with high levels of glutathione are healthier than those with low levels.
Other studies have shown that people with heart disease and low glutathione levels have a 30 percent higher risk of suffering from a heart attack than those with healthy glutathione levels. Having low glutathione levels is also linked to brain disorders and other serious health problems.
On the other hand, glutathione supplementation has been found to help reduce oxidative stress, improve insulin sensitivity and blood circulation and reduce symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and respiratory diseases. (Related: Glutathione could become a major player in the battle against obesity and chronic disease.)
Glutathione levels decline with age and are also influenced by many factors, such as poor diet, exposure to environmental toxins and stress. Reports suggest that while the average American needs to consume about 250 mg of glutathione a day, most only get around 35 mg from their diet.
To boost your glutathione intake, incorporate glutathione-rich foods, such as organic melons, grapefruit, peaches, asparagus, spinach, mangoes, strawberries, eggs and garlic, into your daily diet. Foods that are rich in sulfur can also boost your body’s production of glutathione.
For more articles on the benefits of maintaining healthy glutathione levels, visit Antioxidants.news.