The 12 Best Food Sources of Sulfur:
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 (1).
Icelanders are known for their low rates of depression, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease (1). 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 this key compound.
Sulfur: Critical for Optimal Health:
Over the last 2 decades, the US farming industry has shifted into a 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 the absorption of this and many other key compounds.
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, reactive oxygen species and detoxify poisonous compounds. Could your diet be deficient in these critical amino acids?
Sulfur Boosts Anti-Oxidants:
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 bodies most important anti-oxidants. Lowered GSH levels are associated with degenerative disease, lowered immunity, & toxic build-up (2, 3, 4). Cysteine levels appear to be the rate limiting factor for the synthesis of GSH (5).
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 Helps Repair the Joints:
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 such as acetaminophen. The sulfation process of detoxification depletes the body of sulfur containing amino acids (6). This is why individuals taking pharmaceutical medications need even more dietary sulfur.
Best Food Sources of Sulfur:
The best plant foods for this key compound 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, brussel 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 these key amino acids. Bone Broth protein is also a rich source of a wide array of important amino acids as well.
Sulfur Rich Meal Plan:
These are some ideas to help you get a lot of sulfur rich nutrients into your system each day.
Breakfast: Option 1: Protein shake with almond milk, berries and bone broth protein – you could also put an avocado in this to make it thicker and creamier and add more sulfur compounds. Option 2: Veggie omelet with 3 eggs and 2 oz of grass-fed cheese and onions, tomatoes and kale inside
Lunch: Green juice with bok choy as the water rich vegetable and turnip or mustard greens as the chlorophyll rich greens. Have this with an avocado salad with grass-fed cheese and/or organic chicken or if you want to eat lighter you could do guacamole and flax crackers
Dinner: Steamed broccoli and cabbage (could also do brussel sprouts, cauliflower, asparagus, etc) with grass-fed butter smeared all over. Grilled garlic lemon chicken cooked in coconut oil. Top with herbs on both and you may want to include a small sweet potato with grass-fed butter and cinnamon on top. Instead of the sweet potato, you could always do double veggies.