By Nickky Faustine P. de Guzman, Reporter

Although stressed is “desserts” spelled backward, according to health experts, even too much sweets is stressing. Apparently, stress also has correlation with glutathione.

Revealed in blood

Glutathione is commercially associated as skin whitening. It comes as an oral pill or an injectable liquid. But this substance, often called the body’s “master antioxidant,” is more than just a whitening agent. Too little glutathione reserves in our system cause stress, fatigue, ageing, and diseases.

“Glutathione is naturally found in the body. Our liver makes 90% of the glutathione,” said Dr. Stanley A. Chua of BioBalance Wellness Institute, a wellness hub in Mandaluyong that offers an Oxidative Stress 2.0 test.

According to Genova Diagnostics, a US-based laboratory that does the test for BioBalance, the Oxidative Stress 2.0 test is a nutritional examination that “utilizes a blood sample in order to evaluate the body’s oxidative stress status and antioxidant reserve.” The aim of the test is to assess how much we are stressed or are prone to being stressed.

While glutathione is also found in fruits and vegetable, what is important in all this is the liver. The healthier the liver, the more glutathione in the body. As someone who avoids alcohol, only consuming water, iced tea, and, sometimes, fruit juice, I was confident that I would ace my Oxidative Stress 2.0 test. But I was wrong.

I was asked to fast for eight to 12 hours before they took a blood sample, which was then sent to the lad. After two weeks, the test results were in.

“Do you smoke and drink alcohol?” Dr. Chua asked before he let me see my test results. He also asked if I sleep for eight hours, exercise, eat right, and get enough sun.

I said I don’t smoke, I hate the sun, and the only exercise I do is when I make a mad dash to make it on time to work events or school. Does that count?

“Ah!” was all he said.

The Oxidative Stress test result is shown as a bar graph with results in red (bad), yellow (borderline), and green (good). My test results were a mixture of both good and bad.

Dr. Chua said that while he expects Millennials to hit results at green (good) levels precisely because we are still young and active. But, ironically, an unhealthy lifestyle can get in the way: excessive clubbing and drinking, and sometimes, drug abuse. Millennial’s ideas that “sleep is for the weak” and YOLO “you only live once” also do not help.

My results showed I am stressed and not healthy — and perhaps I represent the majority of Millennials in their 20s and early 30s.

Although my body makes enough substances like cysteine, cystine, and sulphate at green (good) levels to protect me from stress, my glutathione, which is the body’s major antioxidant, was worrisome.

Dr. Chua said that while my glutathione level is still at green, it was very near the borderline, I don’t have enough reserves of glutathione in my body to push it at the safer green level, because “it compensates for the lack of SOD (superoxide dismutase) in your body.”

According to the results, my SOD is at the red (bad) level.

SOD is an enzyme found in every cell in the body which catalyzes the destruction of free radicals that damage cells, causing causes age-related diseases and cancer. Dr. Chua said iron and copper deficiencies, among others, can impair SOD production.   

He said the following could trigger my low level of SODs: not enough sleep/iron deficiency; consumption of too much processed food; too many sweets (I told Dr. Chua that I can skip the main course but not the dessert); and not enough rest.

The manifestations of a person stressed at the cellular level are: dry skin, faster ageing, low energy, falling hair, and being prone to the flu, coughs, and colds.

“Remember that the body has to fight stress in[side] and out. It should lay a better foundation, and not a band-aid solution alone,” said Dr. Chua.

So, does it mean that people who inject or drink glutathione for the purpose of skin whitening are generally healthier? Dr. Chua said no.

“Glutathione takers are not necessarily healthier,” he said.

He emphasized that what was important is the “liver.”

“It depends if the liver is functioning well.”

He clarified that oral glutathione “does not work as much as people hope.” He said it is not well absorbed by the body, with only 20% of the pill absorbed by the body.

While glutathione consumption can result in whiter skin, he added that “The side effect of glutathione is it attacks the blood vessels. Maputi ka nga, may ugat ka namang maitim. (You may be whiter but you have may have a blackened blood vessels.)”

Dr. Chua gave me multivitamins to take in the morning and evening to help me de-stress at the cellular level and to boost my glutathione production, and chromium in the morning to regulate my sugar cravings. They are available at BioBalance.

“Supplements are neither meal substitutes nor a standalone recommendation. They just augment what’s missing,” he emphasized.

There is another option to supplements. He recommends consuming two servings each of fruits and vegetables that fall under the rainbow colors (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet). This way, I can have an ample supply of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in my body. “The darker the vegetable, the better,” he said.

Apparently, my occasional brisk walks and short sprints to work or school do not help, he said, because my glutathione result is almost at yellow and my OSD is at red.

He recommends running as fast as you can for three minutes a day.

He also advocates that people get their daily dose of vitamin D to regulate calcium absorption and for maintenance of healthy bones and teeth, and protect against type one diabetes, cancer, and sclerosis.

His original recommendation was that I sunbathe at noon, but acknowledging that skin cancer is a risk in the long run, he said people can get their vitamin D supply at two hours after sunrise, which is around nine in the morning. For white skinned people, he said 15 minutes of exposure is enough, while for people with darker skin, 30 minutes of sunbathing is recommended.

The Oxidative Stress 2.0 test costs P26,000. A three-month supplement package costs P11,721 while a six month supplement package costs P19,535.