Bulletproof Your Immune System
Video

Lesson 9: Reduce Baseline Inflammation by Targeting Antioxidant Support

Lesson 9 Protocol 2

  • objective(s)

  • action(s)

  • resources

  • references

Learn how to increase your body’s “Master Antioxidant”, glutathione, to help improve immune regulation, so important when faced with the threat of a hyperinflammatory virus.

Lesson Summary

Remember this about free radicals, antioxidants, glutathione and NAC:

  • Oxidative stress caused by free radicals diminishes the ability of your immune system to present a modulated, balanced response to a pathogen, like SARS-CoV-2.

  • Antioxidants are molecules that can donate an electron to a free radical without making themselves unstable. This causes the free radical to stabilize and become less reactive.

  • The Master Antioxidant in our body is glutathione. Our body makes it, but sometimes in insufficient amounts to deal with an overload of oxidative stress, or too much toxicity for the liver to manage, or when a virus burden overwhelms the immune system.

  • Glutathione has been well studied, and is a proven supplement to support immunity, especially in regard to helping improve acute respiratory syndrome severity and helping to improve immune system modulation.

  • You can supplement with glutathione directly, but because it has poor bioavailability, choose the liposomal form. This helps absorption, but doesn’t make it less expensive.

  • You can boost Glutathione with a precursor amino acid called N-acetylcysteine (NAC), which is less expensive than glutathione.

Reduce Baseline Inflammation By Targeting Antioxidant Support

There’s a “master antioxidant” that your body makes that not only fights free radicals, but also helps improve immune system modulation, so that you don’t have an excessive inflammatory reaction to SARS-CoV-2 infection and COVID-19 disease.

We’ve all heard about antioxidants, but let’s touch on what they are, what they do, and their relevance to this pandemic.

What Are Antioxidants and Free Radicals?

Simply put, antioxidants are compounds that inhibit oxidation. Oxidation is a chemical reaction that can produce free radicals, and lead to chain reactions that may damage our cells. 

Free radicals are sometimes referred to as reactive oxygen species. These are unstable atoms that can cause damage to cells and lead to illnesses and the aging process. 

The reason free radical atoms -- usually oxygen atoms -- are unstable is because they have unpaired electrons. Electrons are infinitesimally small particles that revolve around atoms. As a result of these unpaired electrons, free radicals seek out and take electrons from other molecules, which oftentimes causes damage to those molecules, and so it continues on in a chain reaction. 

When a free radical molecule grabs an electron from another molecule, it’s called “oxidation.” A molecule that has had its electron “stolen” from a free radical has been “oxidized.” Molecules that have been oxidized are now transformed into free radicals themselves, and will seek to interact with another healthy molecule, thereby creating a vicious chain reaction of electrons in the body. 

When the body has undergone excessive oxidation, or more oxidation than can be dealt with, say with antioxidants, it’s said to be undergoing “oxidative stress.”

Scientific studies have confirmed the disease-promoting role of free radicals damage in respiratory virus infection. Not only can a SARS-CoV-2 infection ignite a cytokine storm, but a free radical storm as well. [1]

So, you might wonder, can antioxidants help?

Well, they’re designed to help, because antioxidants are molecules in cells that prevent free radicals from taking electrons from another molecule. They do this by giving up an electron to the free radical without becoming destabilized themselves. This stops the free radical chain reaction.

And what’s the most powerful antioxidant we have?

It's the most important and powerful of the antioxidants our body makes, glutathione. Glutathione is referred to as the Master Antioxidant, and for good reason, as you’ll soon learn.

What is glutathione?

Glutathione is a compound our body makes that helps facilitate oxidation–reduction reactions in cells. It’s also widely available and used as a supplement. 

Glutathione is a tripeptide derived from the amino acids glutamic acid, cysteine, and glycine. (Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins.) 

Glutathione has been extensively studied and tested, and is known to help protect against viral infection and minimize the severity of symptoms should you get infected. [2]

Glutathione modulates the behavior of many immune system cells, affecting adaptive immunity and protecting against microbial, viral and parasitic infections. 

It can also double the ability of natural killer cells to be cytotoxic -- meaning, to kill invading pathogens, like viruses. [3,4,5]

Glutathione also can help downregulate inflammation in the lung, and improve other critically important functions of both the innate and adaptive parts of the immune system, particularly involving the mechanisms of modulating the behavior of immune system cells when there’s a viral attack. [6,7,8,9,10]

This is what we want our immune system to do; we want it to strongly react to a virus, but not over react and thereby produce an overwhelming amount of inflammation that is hard to recover from, such as from ARDS.

The dreaded acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is a condition that has killed many people who were admitted to intensive care due to COVID-19. ARDS can occur when fluid builds up in the alveoli, those tiny, elastic air sacs in your lungs. This build up of fluid keeps the lungs from getting enough air. When that happens, less oxygen reaches the bloodstream, and the organs are deprived of the oxygen they need to function.

Acute respiratory distress syndrome causes such an extensive overproduction of free radicals that they overwhelm the body’s own reserve of antioxidants. And that results in oxidative cell damage. 

But don’t despair.

Those with acute respiratory deficient disorder can be helped by the antioxidant compound N-acetylcysteine, which is often referred to as “NAC”. [11]

NAC Makes Glutathione

NAC comes from the amino acid L-cysteine. The reason NAC is important is that it’s a Glutathione precursor; meaning that NAC makes more glutathione. 

In this case, N-acetylcysteine increases glutathione levels by providing the liver with more of the amino acid cysteine, which increases glutathione synthesis; meaning, more of it is produced.

The primary reason that NAC helps people recover from acute respiratory deficient disorder is because it increases the amount of Glutathione that our body makes. [11]

Clinical studies have reported on the usefulness of N-acetylcysteine as a free radical scavenger, most notably where there appears to be a need for more glutathione in the body. [12,13]

You can supplement with either glutathione and NAC, so why choose to supplement with NAC over glutathione when the objective is to make more glutathione?

There’s two reasons you may prefer to take NAC over glutathione:

  1. Glutathione is not readily absorbed into the bloodstream, but NAC is; and
  2. Glutathione is significantly more expensive than NAC.
How to get NAC:
  • Foods: High protein foods
  • Supplements: N-acetylcysteine capsules


NAC is in most protein-rich foods, such as chicken, turkey, yogurt, cheese, eggs, sunflower seeds and legumes.

But given that our aim here is to bump up Glutathione levels to improve our immunity to SARS-CoV-2, consider using a NAC supplement so you know you’re getting a therapeutic dose.

If you rather boost your Glutathione level directly, rather than via the NAC precursor, you can eat more Glutathione-rich foods, or use a supplement that is tweaked for better absorption in your body.

How to get Glutathione:
  • Foods: Asparagus, avocado, cabbage
  • Supplements: Liposomal form of Glutathione


There are a handful of foods that naturally contain glutathione, including asparagus, avocado, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, spinach, broccoli, garlic, chives, tomatoes, cucumber, almonds and walnuts. 

But there are issues with increasing your Glutathione levels with food. A variety of factors can affect the levels of this vital nutrient, including storage and cooking. And the supplement itself is poorly absorbed into the body.

If you choose glutathione over NAC, or want to take it along with NAC, my suggestion is that you choose a liposomal form of Glutathione to improve its bioavailability.

I mentioned the liposomal form of supplements in the last lesson when I spoke about quercetin. Like quercetin, glutathione isn’t very well absorbed. The liposomal form of glutathione makes it bioavailable.

A liposome is a minute spherical sac of phospholipid molecules enclosing a water droplet. They can be used as a vehicle to improve the bioavailability of nutrients and pharmaceutical drugs.

Several supplement brands offer liposomal glutathione, and they’re your best bet for getting this vitally important antioxidant absorbed by your body. Or, as I said before, you can use the glutathione precursor, NAC.

Check the Nutraceutical Guide for information on brands and dosages.

Your Takeaway

Remember this about free radicals, antioxidants, glutathione and NAC:

  • Oxidative stress caused by free radicals diminishes the ability of your immune system to present a modulated, balanced response to a pathogen, like SARS-CoV-2.
  • Antioxidants are molecules that can donate an electron to a free radical without making themselves unstable. This causes the free radical to stabilize and become less reactive.
  • The Master Antioxidant in our body is glutathione. Our body makes it, but sometimes in insufficient amounts to deal with an overload of oxidative stress, or too much toxicity for the liver to manage, or when a virus burden overwhelms the immune system.
  • Glutathione has been well studied, and is a proven supplement to support immunity, especially in regard to helping improve acute respiratory syndrome severity and helping to improve immune system modulation.
  • You can supplement with glutathione directly, but because it has poor bioavailability, choose the liposomal form. This helps absorption, but doesn’t make it less expensive.
  • You can boost Glutathione with a precursor amino acid called N-acetylcysteine (NAC), which is less expensive than glutathione.


In the next and last lesson of Protocol 2, we’ll take a look at how age and various comorbidities increase one’s vulnerability to becoming infected with SARS-CoV-2, and getting really sick from COVID-19.

Pen
>