Who doesn’t want to live longer, right? But you would all agree that living longer, if the quality of life isn’t present is NOT what you want!
So what’s the foundational cellular change that characterizes the aging process?
At the fundamental level of your cellular biochemistry, it’s seen to be you body’s diminishing ability to replace cells at an equal or greater rate than you’re losing them and further to that, a progressive loss of intracellular antioxidant protection against your innate free-radical production.
You’ve most probably heard or read about these aggressive metabolic by-products called free radicals. A free radical is an intracellular molecule that is short of at least one electron. To restore balance this free radical will do anything to acquire this missing electron so this means it will steal it from another molecule through a process called oxidation. The free radical will steal that electron from just about any donor molecule including a fat, protein or carbohydrate. When the free radical steals the electron, the donor compound’s functionality is dramatically impaired and often disabled completely.
There is no area inside the cell which is immune to this ubiquitous process. It is expected that these free radicals are produced .They are a normal by-product of healthy energy production and cellular metabolism, meaning that the potential collateral damage that is sustained from these highly reactive and short lived molecules, is an influence that is factored into day-to-day life for every one of your 37 trillion cells. In fact many species of your white blood cells actually produce them to use as a weapon against foreign invaders. This process of oxidation is so effective at destroying cells and cellular parts that it’s incorporated into your body’s defence system.
Of course when free radicals are produced as part of your body’s immune system it is generally in a more controlled state. For example, a phagocyte (a white blood cell that engulfs an invader) will annihilate a foreign invader with free radicals only once the substance or pathogen is fully engulfed and in the safe ‘controlled environment’ inside the white blood cell. But before to take a sigh of relief this exact process can go horribly wrong and influence the progression of many inflammatory and especially autoimmune disorders! Really when you look at it closely, this whole process of ‘oxidation’ could be blamed for being at the root of all disease processes! Interestingly, in fact it has.
If you sit back and examine the word oxidation, it highlights the interest we should now focus on compounds that you have most definitely read about called antioxidants. These are compounds either innately produced inside your cells or derived from dietary intake. The myriad of supplements that are now available within the ‘antioxidant’ category is a testament to the notoriety that the copious amount of research around antioxidants has received. A measurement scale frequently used to rate and compare a foods total antioxidant capacity is called the ORAC. This is an acronym for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity.
From the tables below you will get an idea as to how the foods perform on this antioxidant activity scale. A great rule of thumb is to keep as many colourful foods as part of your diet. There is much competition between companies each claiming to have a combination of antioxidant ingredients that is more substantial than anyone else. It is most definitely imperative to ingest as many foods as possible that are high on the ORAC scale, but as impressive as some of the highest rated foods are, they pale into insignificance when compared with your very own innate antioxidant heroes.
So what do I mean by ’your very own innate antioxidant heroes’?
There are three critically important, life restoring antioxidant systems in every one of your cells. They are – Glutathione (GSH), Super Oxide Dismutase (SOD) and Catalase. Glutathione in its reduced form (ready to soak up or scavenge free radicals) is the most potent and valuable, cellular protecting antioxidant. To put its activity into perspective, when we talk about nutritional antioxidants such as Vit E and C, one molecule of E or C will scavenge one free radical and it is then neutralized and won’t be recycled. Now compare that to each molecule of GSH which can scavenge literally millions of free radicals through enzymatic recycling before needing to be replaced. All those big numbers placed opposite different foods on the ORAC scale are profoundly insignificant when compared to the all-life promoting and sustaining activity of a well-functioning GSH cycle!
This doesn’t mean that you’ll get no benefit from included as many high ORAC foods as possible, you most definitely will, but on the prioritized scale of important antioxidants, the GSH replenishment cycle (and SOD and Catalase) is the one you want to have functioning at a high level!
How do you make sure your GSH activity is robust?
GSH is a tri-peptide, meaning that your cells require three different amino acids to manufacture this important antioxidant. The three amino acids are: Cysteine, Glutamine and Glycine. By far the most ‘rate limiting’ (meaning reaction dependent) amino acid of this trio is Cysteine. The reason for this is the other two amino acids are quite abundant in the foods you each as opposed to Cysteine which is very low in the average diet. Supplementation of the active form of Cysteine called N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC for short) is a pre-requisite in your mandate to bolster your innate GSH production cycles!
The second important molecule in the support of a high functioning GSH antioxidant cycle is NADPH. This is a reduced substrate of Nicotinamide (Vitamin B3) and is also critical to be supplemented to make sure that levels are adequate.
The third important nutrient that needs to be supplemented is a trace element that is virtually unavailable in your diet due to 21st century farming methods and that is selenium (in the form of selenomethionine). This trace element has many roles to play in the maintenance and production of a healthy cell but importantly in the production of both SOD and GSH antioxidants.
A fourth compound that should be mentioned here as an inclusion in a framework aimed at increasing cellular GSH levels is ROC (Red Orange Complex). Recent clinical evidence reveals that a specific combination of three different species of red orange extracts increases available cellular GSH levels by 68%. These three species are Tarocco, Sanguinello and Moro.
In summary, the compounds that are critically important to bolster your own GSH production are:
- NAC – minimum 600mg twice daily
- Vitamin B3 (Nicotinamide) – 500mg twice daily
- Selenium (as selenomethionine) – 200mcg/day
- ROC (Red Orange Complex) – 100mg 1-2 times daily
- Magnesium (either in diglycinate or citrate forms) – 200mg twice daily. This is an important addition not only to reduce intracellular oxidation but to support numerous important cellular functions.
In this article I have focused on the important nutritional cofactors necessary to improve intracellular levels of your innate antioxidants, in particular GSH. There are now many Glutathione supplements on the market based on research provided by Setria. The research into Setria Reduced Glutathione is very compelling showing tangible increases in circulating Glutathione levels. I just haven’t seen the same improvements in health from supplementing with actual Glutathione in comparison to fuelling the fires of your own GSH production cycles with the above mentioned cofactors! The fact remains that the structure of the Glutathione molecule (being a tripeptide) automatically means the digestive enzymatic processes will cleave the three amino acids apart as it does automatically with all complex multipeptide proteins, leaving the three single amino acids in isolation ready for absorption. The body may then choose to reconstitute the GSH molecule (or not) and this could in fact be the reason for the increase in Glutathione levels after ingestion of Reduced Glutathione.
Regardless, I have found clinically better results using the ‘co-factor approach’ – your choice…