Sulfur is a mineral that is present in every cell of the body. It plays a key role in liver metabolism and the function of the joint cartilage and keratin of the skin & hair. It is also critical for metabolism and anti-oxidant defense systems that protect the aging patterns of the brain. Some of the healthiest cultures in the world have the highest levels of sulfur in their diet while the US has some of the lowest levels.
Icelanders are known for their low rates of depression, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Researchers are attributing much of this to the line of volcanoes that formed the island nation. These volcanoes are full of sulfur ash, which blankets the soil after an eruption. This enriches the ground and makes drinking water, produce, and meat products contain a dense supply of sulfur.
Modern farming depletes sulfur
Over the last 2 decades, the US farming industry has shifted into highly technologized mega farms. These farms are entirely focused on producing high yield per acre, and thus they have depleted many vital nutrients such as sulfur from the ground. These farmers also apply artificial fertilizers to the soil. These fertilizers are enriched in phosphates and very low in sulfur. These excess phosphates interfere with sulfur absorption.
Sulfur amino acids are extremely important for the maintenance and integrity of the cellular systems. They strongly influence the ability to manufacture glutathione and the capacity to neutralize free radicals and reactive oxygen species and to detoxify poisonous compounds. Could your diet be deficient in these critical amino acids?
There are 2 sulfur containing amino acids: cysteine and methionine. They are not stored in the body. Any dietary surplus is oxidized to sulfate and excreted in the urine or is stored as glutathione (GSH). Glutathione is one of the body's most important anti-oxidants. Lowered GSH levels are associated with degenerative disease, lowered immunity, & toxic build-up. Cysteine levels appear to be the rate limiting factor for the synthesis of GSH.
The internal triage system of the body typically spares the brain since it is the most critical organ. However, in cases of low sulfur containing amino acids the brain will deplete its stores of GSH in order to maintain cysteine levels. This reduces the brain's antioxidant defenses and accelerates the degenerative processes.
Sulfur plays a very important role in joint, cartilage, skin & blood vessel formation through the glycosaminoglycan (GAG) compounds. Some of the familiar GAG compounds include glucosamine, heparan sulfate and chondroitin sulfate. When sulfur levels are depleted, the body is unable to replace the old and inferior GAG molecules in the joints. With inadequate repair materials the joints, blood vessels, & skin cells suffer and degenerate faster.
Sulfation is a critical detoxification pathway in the liver. This is particularly necessary to detoxify pharmaceutical drugs. The sulfation process of detoxification depletes the body of sulfur containing amino acids. This is why individuals taking pharmaceutical medications need even more dietary sulfur.
The Best Food Sources of Sulfur
The best plant foods for sulfur are found in the Allium family, which is high in allyl sulfides and sulfoxides. These include onions, garlic, leeks, shallots, & chives. The cruciferous vegetable family has sulfur containing isothiocyanates that are potent cancer fighters. These foods include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, radishes, watercress, kale, & collard greens.
Animal foods rich in sulfur containing amino acids include organic eggs, wild-caught fish, & grass-fed beef. Raw dairy from grass-fed cows (particularly sulfur rich grass) is a great source of sulfur containing amino acids. Non-denatured whey protein from grass-fed cows is the richest source of sulfur containing amino acids.
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About the author:
Dr. David Jockers owns and operates Exodus Health Center in Kennesaw, Ga. He is a Maximized Living doctor. His expertise is in weight loss, customized nutrition & exercise, & structural corrective chiropractic care. For more information go to www.exodushc.com
To find a Maximized Living doctor near you go to www.maximizedliving.com
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