Thursday, April 15, 2010

Whole Garlic

Above is a bulb of peeled garlic, its cloves still clinging proudly on to the bottom.  I had to carefully pull out the tiny cloves in the middle in order to remove all the paper (did I say carefully?).  I only attempted this after breaking and peeling three entire bulbs for some shiso-agave tsukemono I will be posting soon.  I think working with the other bulbs gave me a chance to study the structural aspects of the garlic more than my usual technique of breaking off a few cloves, smacking them with the back of a knife, and easily removing the paper.  For tsukemono, you want to the leave the cloves intact and solid.

I've never seen anybody else do this before, so I decided to share it with you.  It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be, but it took a great deal of patience and attention.  I'm not quite sure what its applications could be, but I will keep you posted.  Please let me know if you have any ideas or suggestions.  

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Glutathione: The Mother of All Antioxidants

This is required reading for an upcoming post on Chinese Salted Cabbage and Kim Chi.

From the Huffington Post:

It's the most important molecule you need to stay healthy and prevent disease -- yet you've probably never heard of it. It's the secret to prevent aging, cancer, heart disease, dementia and more, and necessary to treat everything from autism to Alzheimer's disease. There are more than 89,000 medical articles about it -- but your doctor doesn't know how address the epidemic deficiency of this critical life-giving molecule ...

What is it? I'm talking about the mother of all antioxidants, the master detoxifier and maestro of the immune system: GLUTATHIONE (pronounced "gloota-thigh-own").

The good news is that your body produces its own glutathione. The bad news is that poor diet, pollution, toxins, medications,stress, trauma, aging, infections and radiation all deplete your glutathione.

This leaves you susceptible to unrestrained cell disintegration from oxidative stress, free radicals, infections and cancer. And your liver gets overloaded and damaged, making it unable to do its job of detoxification.

In treating chronically ill patients with Functional Medicine for more than 10 years, I have discovered that glutathione deficiency is found in nearly all very ill patients. These include people with chronic fatigue syndrome, heart disease, cancer, chronic infections, autoimmune disease, diabetes, autism, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, arthritis, asthma, kidney problems, liver disease and more.

At first I thought that this was just a coincidental finding, but over the years I have come to realize that our ability to produce and maintain a high level of glutathione is critical to recovery from nearly all chronic illness -- and to preventing disease and maintaining optimal health and performance. The authors of those 76,000 medical articles on glutathione I mentioned earlier have found the same thing!

So in today's blog I want to explain what glutathione is, why it's important and give you 9 tips that will help you optimize your glutathione levels, improve your detoxification system and protect help yourself from chronic illness.

What is Glutathione?

Glutathione is a very simple molecule that is produced naturally all the time in your body. It is a combination of three simple building blocks of protein or amino acids -- cysteine, glycine and glutamine.

The secret of its power is the sulfur (SH) chemical groups it contains. Sulfur is a sticky, smelly molecule. It acts like fly paper and all the bad things in the body stick onto it, including free radicals and toxins like mercury and other heavy metals.

Normally glutathione is recycled in the body -- except when the toxic load becomes too great. And that explains why we are in such trouble ...

In my practice, I test the genes involved in glutathione metabolism. These are the genes involved in producing enzymes that allow the body to create and recycle glutathione in the body. These genes have many names, such as GSTM1, GSTP1 and more.

These genes impaired in some people for a variety of important reasons. We humans evolved in a time before the 80,000 toxic industrial chemicals found in our environment today were introduced into our world, before electromagnetic radiation was everywhere and before we polluted our skies, lakes, rivers, oceans and teeth with mercury and lead.

That is why most people survived with the basic version of the genetic detoxification software encoded in our DNA, which is mediocre at ridding the body of toxins. At the time humans evolved we just didn't need more. Who knew we would be poisoning ourselves and eating a processed, nutrient-depleted diet thousands of years later?

Because most of us didn't require additional detoxification software, almost of half of the population now has a limited capacity to get rid of toxins. These people are missing GSTM1 function -- one of the most important genes needed in the process of creating and recycling glutathione in the body.

Nearly all my very sick patients are missing this function. The one-third of our population that suffers from chronic disease is missing this essential gene. That includes me. Twenty years ago I became mercury poisoned and suffered from chronic fatigue syndrome due to this very problem. My GSTM1 function was inadequate and I didn't produce enough glutathione as a result. Eventually, my body broke down and I became extremely ill ...

This is the same problem I see in so many of my patients. They are missing this critical gene and they descend into disease as a result. Let me explain how this happens ...

The Importance of Glutathione in Protecting Against Chronic Illness

Glutathione is critical for one simple reason: It recycles antioxidants. You see, dealing with free radicals is like handing off a hot potato. They get passed around from vitamin C to vitamin E to lipoic acid and then finally to glutathione which cools off the free radicals and recycles other antioxidants. After this happens, the body can "reduce" or regenerate another protective glutathione molecule and we are back in business.

However, problems occur when we are overwhelmed with too much oxidative stress or too many toxins. Then the glutathione becomes depleted and we can no longer protect ourselves against free radicals, infections, or cancer and we can't get rid of toxins. This leads to further sickness and soon we are in the downward spiral of chronic illness.

But that's not all. Glutathione is also critical in helping your immune system do its job of fighting infections and preventingcancer. That's why studies show that it can help in the treatment of AIDS.(i)

Glutathione is also the most critical and integral part of your detoxification system. All the toxins stick onto glutathione, which then carries them into the bile and the stool -- and out of your body.

And lastly, it also helps us reach peak mental and physical function. Research has shown that raised glutathione levels decrease muscle damage, reduce recovery time, increase strength and endurance and shift metabolism from fat production to muscle development.

If you are sick or old or are just not in peak shape, you likely have glutathione deficiency.

In fact, the top British medical journal, the Lancet, found the highest glutathione levels in healthy young people, lower levels in healthy elderly, lower still in sick elderly and the lowest of all in the hospitalized elderly. (ii)

Keeping yourself healthy, boosting your performance, preventing disease and aging well depends on keeping your glutathione levels high. I'll say it again ... Glutathione is so important because it is responsible for keeping so many of the keys to UltraWellness optimized.

It is critical for immune function and controlling inflammation. It is the master detoxifier and the body's main antioxidant, protecting our cells and making our energy metabolism run well.

And the good news is that you can do many things to increase this natural and critical molecule in your body. You can eat glutathione-boosting foods. You can exercise. And you can take glutathione-boosting supplements. Let's review more specifics about each.

9 Tips to Optimize your Glutathione Levels

These 9 tips will help you improve your glutathione levels, improve your health, optimize your performance and live a long, healthy life.

Eat Foods that Support Glutathione Production

1. Consume sulfur-rich foods. The main ones in the diet are garlic, onions and the cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, kale, collards, cabbage, cauliflower, watercress, etc.).

2. Try bioactive whey protein. This is great source of cysteine and the amino acid building blocks for glutathione synthesis. As you know, I am not a big fan of dairy. But this is an exception -- with a few warnings. The whey protein MUST be bioactive and made from non-denatured proteins ("denaturing" refers to the breakdown of the normal protein structure). Choose non-pasteurized and non-industrially produced milk that contains no pesticides, hormones, or antibiotics. Immunocal is a prescription bioactive non-denatured whey protein that is even listed in the Physician's Desk Reference.

Exercise for Your Way to More Glutathione

3. Exercise boosts your glutathione levels and thereby helps boost your immune system, improve detoxification and enhance your body's own antioxidant defenses. Start slow and build up to 30 minutes a day of vigorous aerobic exercise like walking or jogging, or play various sports. Strength training for 20 minutes 3 times a week is also helpful.

Take Glutathione Supporting Supplements

One would think it would be easy just to take glutathione as a pill, but the body digests protein -- so you wouldn't get the benefits if you did it this way. However, the production and recycling of glutathione in the body requires many different nutrients and you CAN take these. Here are the main supplements that need to be taken consistently to boost glutathione. Besides taking a multivitamin and fish oil, supporting my glutathione levels with these supplements is the most important thing I do every day for my personal health.

4. N-acetyl-cysteine. This has been used for years to help treat asthma and lung disease and to treat people with life-threatening liver failure from Tylenol overdose. In fact, I first learned about it in medical school while working in the emergency room. It is even given to prevent kidney damage from dyes used during x-ray studies.

5. Alpha lipoic acid. This is a close second to glutathione in importance in our cells and is involved in energy production, blood sugar control, brain health and detoxification. The body usually makes it, but given all the stresses we are under, we often become depleted.
6. Methylation nutrients (folate and vitamins B6 and B12). These are perhaps the most critical to keep the body producing glutathione. Methylation and the production and recycling of glutathione are the two most important biochemical functions in your body. Take folate (especially in the active form of 5 methyltetrahydrofolate), B6 (in active form of P5P) and B12 (in the active form of methylcobalamin).

7. Selenium. This important mineral helps the body recycle and produce more glutathione.

8. A family of antioxidants including vitamins C and E (in the form of mixed tocopherols), work together to recycle glutathione.

9. Milk thistle (silymarin) has long been used in liver disease and helps boost glutathione levels.

So use these nine tips and see how they work to help you optimzie your glutathione levels. When you do, you will take one more step to lifelong vibrant health.

Now I'd like to hear from you...

Had you ever heard of this important nutrient before?

Have you tried any of the advice in this article?

What effects have you noticed on your health?

Please leave your thoughts by adding a comment below.

To your good health,

Mark Hyman, M.D.


(i) De Rosa SC, Zaretsky MD, Dubs JG, Roederer M, Anderson M, Green A, Mitra D, Watanabe N, Nakamura H, Tjioe I, Deresinski SC, Moore WA, Ela SW, Parks D, Herzenberg LA, Herzenberg LA. N-acetylcysteine replenishes glutathione in HIV infection. Eur J Clin Invest. 2000 Oct;30(10):915-29

(ii) Nuttall S, Martin U, Sinclair A, Kendall M. 1998. Glutathione: in sickness and in health. The Lancet 351(9103):645-646

Mark Hyman, M.D. practicing physician and founder of The UltraWellness Center is a pioneer in functional medicine. Dr. Hyman is now sharing the 7 ways to tap into your body's natural ability to heal itself. You can follow him on Twitter, connect with him on LinkedIn, watch his videos on Youtube and become a fan on Facebook.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Natto - Japan

Unless you live in Japan, you will probably need to go to your closest Japan-Town to find this exquisite delicacy.  If you are lucky enough to live in a metropolitan area, bear in mind that Natto is usually sold in nondescript single-serving  foam containers.  My favorite part of this Japanese breakfast stample is the hot mustard or wasabi packet that comes with the portioned Natto.  Although Natto is traditionally a breakfast food, I suggest eating Natto any time of day.  I even had some for dinner last night over some brown jasmine rice (thanks Grandma).  Simply throw the Natto into your bowl of steamed (brown) rice, add the provided sauce packets, and maybe add a shake or two of Ichimi Togarashi (my favorite brand is pictured below.  Don't be put off by the gross-factor, go ahead and try it!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Chalupa Wednesdays

this was our favorite lunch in elementary school. We got something that looked like this and two packets of salsa that we would squeeze on top immediately. The "chalupa" was always overcooked and chewy. Occasionally we would get little tiny diced tomato and shredded iceberg lettuce on top.

My family wasn't low-income, so I didn't receive free lunches at school, but Chalupa days were when I could scrounge up $1.50 to make the full-price purchase in the lunch line.  Some days I would be able to buy a lunch ticket from someone who was working on the "saving money through starvation retirement plan" for less than a dollar.  

I used all my expendable income (read: all of it) at the time on candy, Slurpees, and Street Fighter 2.  This was a time when liqour stores, donut shops, burger joints, and 7-11's all accommodated large groups of children playing video games and smoking cigarettes all day long.  I know that sounds unbelievable now, but it was heaven for me and my friends.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Organic Heinz Ketchup

Heinz.  Can't fuck with it.  Organic just makes it better.  I was born in Pittsburgh, PA, where Heinz originated, but I'm not biased.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Pecan Pie - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. - Israel


Rabbi Max Nussbaum with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Pecan Pie was Dr.Martin Luther King Jr.'s all-time favorite food.

Dr. King seems to have felt the same way about Pecan Pie as he did about Israel and the Jewish people.

"I cannot stand idly by, even though I happen to live in the United States and even though I happen to be an American Negro, and not be concerned about what happens to the Jews in Soviet Russia. For what happens to them happens to me and you, and we must be concerned."

"Israel's right to exist as a state in security is uncontestable."

"Peace for Israel means security, and we must stand with all our might to protect its right to exist, its territorial integrity. I see Israel as one of the great outposts of democracy in the world, and a marvelous example of what can be done, how desert land can be transformed into an oasis of brotherhood and democracy. Peace for Israel means security and that security must be a reality."

"I solemnly pledge to do my utmost to uphold the fair name of the Jews -- because bigotry in any form is an affront to us all."

"When people criticize Zionists they mean Jews, you are talking anti-Semitism."

Smart man.

Check out what happened when MLK visited Temple Israel  of Hollywood in 1965.  I went to services there once and it was pretty fucking bad-ass.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Haiti Earthquake 2010 -- Pikliz

Much love to Haiti in the midst of the recent catastrophic earthquake.  I have some idea what you are going through because of my experience living within blocks of the epicenter of the Northridge Earthquake of 1994.  I can only imagine how much more difficult it is to be in a place without the significant resources that we took for granted in Los Angeles.  Please donate to a reputable relief organization like Unicef and do not respond to unsolicited requests for money.  Also watch out for fly-by-night shell organizations that are really just money-making scams.

In the meantime, enjoy this recipe for Pikliz.  Guess what, it's related to Pickles!


  • 6 Scotch bonnet peppers
  • 2 cups thinly sliced or shredded cabbage
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced or shredded carrots
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced or shredded onions
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 8 to 10 peppercorns (optional)
  • 3 cups vinegar


  • Snip off the stem of the peppers, cut each into 4 pieces, and keep the seeds. Place hot peppers, cabbage, carrots, onion, cloves, salt, and peppercorn in a quart size jar. Then add vinegar.
  • Close jar tightly and let sit at least 24-48 hours before serving.
  • Serve with meat or fish starchy vegetables.
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