This time of year comes with viruses, including coronavirus, and allergies abounding. And, with a lot of talk about respiratory illness these days, you may be wondering how to protect your lungs. If so, keep reading to find out how you can improve the ability of your lungs and stay healthy!
NAC (N-Acetyl Cysteine)
NAC is a natural antioxidant produced by the body. It is used to synthesize Glutathione (the most potent antioxidant in the body) within the blood. NAC is the precursor for Glutathione. This means that NAC can convert to Glutathione easily and quickly when needed. Residing in the liver(1), NAC is so powerful, it is used in the ER for those suffering from an Acetaminophen (Tylenol) overdose. And, in recent years, NAC has been studied for its vital role in lung health. This stems from a mucous and inflammation-reducing effect.(2)
In other words, NAC seems to be effective in reducing the collection of mucus in the lungs. Recent animal studies suggest that NAC may play an important role in protecting the lungs from damaging viral loads. The viral loads related to inflammation that are so common with these sorts of infections.(3)
Some of these best-known effects of NAC may serve to help in this seasonal time of need. We tend to think of antioxidants as immune system superchargers. But, they can oftentimes be potent anti-inflammatories. Such is the case with NAC.
Inflammation is most commonly associated with sore, achy joints. But, in the case of your lungs, inflammation is much less noticeable until it has become a problem. Anyone who has dealt with any respiratory infection can relate. Every year, I deal with seasonal allergies that seem to “spring” into action overnight. This is because many of our body’s systems operate on a very fine line. Once we cross that line, it’s often a difficult road to recovery.
What’s the Cause of Lung Inflammation?
Histamine or inflammatory responses are triggered when something attacks our systems. In my case, it’s pollen causing an allergic reaction, histamine response and inflammation. In other cases, it is a virus or bacteria causing an inflammation-inducing immune response. The inflammation is our bodies going to work against invaders.
Our “little protectors” called white blood cells are our first line of defense. They cause the swelling, the coughing, the sneezing, the itching, etc. When it comes to the lungs, the main drivers are cytokines. They can be activated by our white blood cells.
Cytokines have been in recent news related to worsening symptoms in COVID-19. Scientists think our immune system goes into overdrive causing a cytokine storm. That means our bodies start attacking both healthy and unhealthy cells. But, most of the time, cytokines attack only unhealthy cells. NAC may determine whether they fight for us or against us.
How NAC Can Help
So, what happens if our body needs a helping hand in lung health? Call for backup! Though our bodies make NAC, we often find ourselves coming up short in times of crisis. (That’s one reason we want to maintain optimal liver health.) It is in these times that we must send in reinforcements to help stop any drastic situations that may arise. In the case of lungs, we must make sure that those helpful inflammatory markers (cytokines) don’t collect too much friendly fire. And, research has shown that NAC may help do just that!
When our immune system starts to overreact, NAC supplementation may help lessen those effects without reducing the effectiveness of the immune system’s fighting capabilities.(4)
Think of it like two armies fighting with the same color uniforms. If this happened, things might get confusing, right? Well, in times of crisis, our immune system sometimes gets set to “shoot on sight”. So, without the proper guiding hands, things can get messy. In times like these, NAC will jump into the battle as that guiding hand to allow for proper targeting. They help to gain results without going overboard.
Who Can Benefit
NAC will make a great addition to any supplement regimen. The only warning is that it is a by-product of sulfur. So, it is not the best option for those who can’t tolerate sulfur or raw cruciferous vegetables, or for those who are receiving chemotherapy. But, most of us could find a spot in our daily supplement regimen for 600-1200mg of it. Plus, it’s not very expensive. I take one capsule twice daily!
Other benefits of NAC include:
– Improved muscle performance
– Protection against Alzheimer’s and Asthma, and lessen influenza
– Decreased symptoms of chronic bronchitis
– Reduced risk of leaky gut
– Assistance in H-pylori infection
– And, improved sleep and reduced snoring!
So, keep your respiratory system well by being prepared! You can shop NAC supplements here.
Want to Learn More?
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Disclaimer: The information on this website and the topics discussed have not been evaluated by the FDA. They have not been evaluated by anyone of the medical profession. This information is not aimed to replace any advice you may receive from your medical practitioner. Nutrition World assumes no responsibility or liability whatsoever on the behalf of any purchaser or reader of any of these materials. Nutrition World is not a doctor, nor does it claim to be. Please consult your physician before beginning any health regimen. If you are being treated for any medical illness, check with your medical professional before starting any protocol.
Pizzorno, Joseph. “Glutathione!.” Integrative medicine. (Encinitas, Calif.). Vol. 13,1 (2014). 8-12.
Zhang, Qianwen. “N-acetylcysteine improves oxidative stress and inflammatory response…”. Medicine vol. 97,45 (2018). e13087.
Zhang, Rui-Hua. “N-acetyl-l-cystine (NAC) protects against H9N2…”. International immunopharmacology. Vol. 22,1 (2014). 1-8.
“The effect of treatment with N-acetylcysteine on the serum levels of C-reactive protein…”. Saddadi Fereshteh, etc. Year 2014. Vol: 25. Issue Number: 1. Page: 66-72.