Can glutathione reduce belly fat?

If you are looking for a powerful antioxidant to help you lose belly fat, glutathione may be the right antioxidant for you to lose those stubborn fats.

Glutathione is a natural antioxidant commonly referred to as GSH. The tripeptide Glutathione constitutes three amino acids: glycine, glutamic acid, and cysteine.

This tripeptide is expressed in high amounts in different cells of the body. The level of GSH in the cells is similar to potassium and other essential biomolecules such as glucose and cholesterol [1].

High levels of GSH suggest that it plays a critical role in cellular metabolism, cell growth and repair. Similar to glucose and cholesterol, GSH is vital in the production of energy and in ensuring that there is a balance between cell growth and cell death. 

Glutathione is the most crucial antioxidant in the body and is active in scavenging free radicals in cells. Free radicals are byproducts of metabolism that, when produced in excess, can lead to oxidative damage, cellular death and aging [2]. Some examples of free radicals include the following: 

  • Superoxide anion radical 
  • Hypochlorite
  • Nitric oxide radical 
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Peroxynitrite radical 

Although GSH decreases with age, there are available supplements and natural foods that can increase the level of GSH in the body. Appropriate amounts of GSH can delay the ageing process and protect the body from neurodegenerative diseases, cardiovascular diseases, liver diseases, cystic fibrosis, pulmonary conditions and other conditions [2]. 

Can GSH fight oxidative stress? 

Glutathione is a natural and powerful antioxidant that can fight oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is the imbalance between the release of free radicals and antioxidants [3].

When oxidative stress is too high, individuals may develop different chronic diseases. These include diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, metabolic disorders, obesity, and cancer [4]. 

The good news is that we can combat these diseases and manage oxidative stress by increasing GSH levels in our bodies. Some foods can increase the level of GSH. Beef and poultry products high in protein are rich in glutathione [5].

Green vegetables such as spinach and kale are other vital sources of glutathione [6]. These vegetables can also increase the level of GSH in the body. In addition, vegetables that are rich in sulfur, such as Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and broccoli, are also excellent sources of GSH.

However, some of the glutathione contained in these vegetables are not absorbed well in the body when eaten. Despite this observation, increasing vegetable intake can likewise increase levels of GSH in the body. 

Another option for improving GSH levels involves supplementation. A clinical trial reveals that an intake of 500-1000 mg of GSH supplements effectively increases GSH storage in the body [7]. To date, there are limited safety studies examining the safety of increasing the dosage of GSH above 1000 mg. 

Can GSH help lose belly fat? 

In recent years, antioxidants have been linked to decreased lipogenesis or reduced production and storage of fat cells [8]. Hence, interest in GSH as a tripeptide that reduces belly fat has also heightened recently. 

Increased waist circumference could increase an individual’s risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes cardiovascular diseases, stroke, hypertension, Alzheimer’s disease, breast cancer and colorectal cancer [9, 10]. Hence, losing belly fat is critical in increasing your lifespan by protecting yourself against these long-term conditions. 

The belly is the most visible and also the most unhealthy place to put on fat, so how can we get rid of it more quickly?

In one study, individuals with normal BMI but with high abdominal fat and large waist circumferences are at increased risk of stroke and heart attack [9]. The results of this study reinforce the need to control one’s weight and reduce belly fat to optimise your health. 

How can I lose belly fat? 

There are multiple ways to reduce belly fat and regain control over your health. One of the proven ways to reduce belly fat is through a lifestyle change that includes staying active through exercise and eating the right kind of food.

A study of women in the postmenopausal stage demonstrated that diet and exercise reduced body weight by 6.7% [11]. Although an active lifestyle and intake of a healthy diet are highly recommended to reduce belly fat, taking supplements while exercising and eating right can hasten belly fat loss. 

If you are living a highly stressful life, you might consider engaging in meditation, yoga and other exercises to help you manage stress. One study showed that increased cortisol levels are associated with increased belly fat [12].

Cortisol is a hormone released when an individual is experiencing stressful events. It is established that engaging in exercise, yoga and meditation can lower cortisol levels and increase hormones that improve the sense of well-being [12]. Some hormones that stabilise mood include endorphin, dopamine and serotonin. 

Meanwhile, the amount of sleep you get is associated with the development of belly fat. Lack of sleep can lead to increased production of cortisol in the body.

The higher the cortisol level, the higher the risk of growing belly fat [13]. Hence, it would be best to get enough sleep daily to reduce the risk of developing belly fat. 

Another method of losing belly fat is supplementation, such as glutathione intake. Glutathione supplements have been found to reduce lipogenesis, improve insulin sensitivity and decrease belly fat [13]. 

How does glutathione reduce belly fat? 

An animal study revealed that glutathione could affect lipid metabolism in rats’ liver cells [14]. Although the exact mechanism is complex, it is found that when glutathione binds with one or several enzymes responsible for lipid metabolism, it leads to a downregulation of lipid synthesis. Findings from this study add to the evidence that glutathione plays a vital role in lipid metabolism. 

Storage of fats in the abdomen is also shown to reduce insulin sensitivity. When this happens, glucose metabolism is directly affected as insulin is necessary in transporting glucose that are circulating in the blood to the cells.

When glucose is too high in the blood, this leads to a condition called hyperglycaemia. It is important to manage type 2 diabetes in order to prevent several health conditions and loss of quality of life.

Interestingly, glutathione has been shown to improve glucose metabolism and increase the sensitivity of the cells to insulin through a complex set of mechanisms. It would appear that glutathione has multiple roles and is involved in various pathways that would lead to reduced fat storage in the belly. 

Is it safe to take glutathione supplements? 

Generally, glutathione supplements are safe and effective in reducing belly fat. The safety profile of GSH makes it an ideal medication for addressing obesity and losing weight.

Although GSH is generally safe, there are still reports of side effects and a few adverse events from patients taking GSH [15]. Recorded side-effects include allergic reactions, rash, trouble breathing due to airway constriction following allergic reactions, abdominal cramps, and bloating. 

You must always consult a doctor when planning to take glutathione supplements to reduce belly fat. While there are limited studies examining the drug-to-drug interaction of glutathione, this does not mean that you can take glutathione along with other medications. 

Always inform your health practitioner if you are taking other medications to examine potential drug-to-drug interactions. If you have known allergies to other medicines, promptly tell your doctor about drug allergies. You might be allergic to glutathione. 

Finally, you can begin talking to your doctor if you can safely take glutathione and start reaping the benefits of this powerful antioxidant. 

Photograph: Sirisab/Shutterstock
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