Glutathione’s Role in Gut Health & Autoimmunity

autoimmune autoimmunity glutathione gut health leaky gut May 23, 2023

Why do gut issues and autoimmunity often go hand in hand? Both often come with inflammation, tissue destruction and reduced blood flow — think cold hands and feet, hair falling out, nail fungus, brain fog, and less blood flow to the intestinal epithelium, which contributes to leaky gut and motility issues — either too fast or too slow.

The Master Antioxoidant

There’s a reason glutathione is called the body’s master antioxidant! In addition to playing a crucial role in detoxification, glutathione status is a huge determinant of flare-ups in autoimmunity. Research shows that having sufficient glutathione levels can take the bullet from an environmental toxin trigger, even when it’s injected directly into the gut lining. So, if you have healthy levels of glutathione there will be little to no autoimmune response in addition to improved digestive symptoms and intestinal mucosal health.

Besides taking liposomal glutathione or its precursors, there are other nutrients and foods that help ensure you have sufficient levels to take on the inflammation and toxic exposures we encounter every day through our food, water, air, home cleaning products and personal care items. This is especially important if you’ve been dealing with any kind of chronic health condition.

Many chronic inflammatory conditions tends to deplete levels of glutathione, vitamin D and other nutrients and antioxidants which are critical to a balanced immune system. Nitric oxide is important (one reason exercise is protective against inflammation and tissue destruction) as is ensuring you have sufficient glutathione stores to quench oxidative damage.

Research shows several ingredients that recycle glutathione include:

  • N-acetyl cysteine (NAC)

  • Alpha lipoic acid (ALA) restores glutathione and renews antioxidant vitamins A and E

  • Vitamin C is another antioxidant that may also spare glutathione by quenching free radicals first

  • L-glutamine, the preferred food source of your gut epithelial cells

  • Selenium

  • Cordyceps mushrooms

  • Silymarin (milk thistle)

Foods that promote glutathione:

  • Cruciferous veggies rich in sulfur (Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, arugula, mustard greens, watercress, bok choy, collard greens, radishes, rutabaga, kohlrabi, etc)

  • Garlic, onions, shallots

  • Avocado

  • Asparagus

  • Okra

  • Beets (also promote healthy nitric oxide levels)

  • Vitamin C rich foods (kiwi, bell pepper, strawberries, citrus, etc)

  • Foods high in selenium (beef, chicken, fish, organ meats, Brazil nuts, etc)


You can test glutathione levels through a urinary organic acids test, which also looks at other nutrient, toxin and gut markers such as oxalates or yeast/fungus.

A comprehensive bloodwork panel which includes vitamin D is another simple but important marker since vitamin D increases T-regulatory cells (if the immune system is a teeter-totter, ‘Tregs’ balance the two sides) and heal leaky gut to reduce intestinal inflammation and restore membranes to reduce food sensitivities.

If the symptoms are related to digestion, IBS, bloating, or even brain fog and autoimmunity, a comprehensive stool test is critical.

Not sure which is right for you? Book a free Right Test Call to learn more.


To hope, health & happiness, Sara

Function Medicine Clinical Nutritionist, CNS, LDN, FMHC, MS-HNFM



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