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Reactive oxygen species (ROC; also called free radicals) are highly reactive chemicals produced naturally during metabolism. Excessive quantities are linked to cell destruction, DNA damage, muscle soreness and decreased exercise performance. N-acetylcysteine or acetylcysteine (NAC) is a natural amino acid byproduct found naturally in foods that fight free radicals, and it improves metabolic health. Adam Trewin from Victoria University in Australia, and colleagues, found that infusing NAC during endurance cycling reduced ROC levels after exercise, which might reduce muscle damage and promote recovery. Unfortunately, NAC had a negative effect on insulin function and insulin sensitivity! Physicians often use NAC to break up mucus accumulation in the lungs in conditions such as emphysema, pneumonia, bronchitis and tuberculosis. It is also used to treat toxic overdoses of acetaminophen— the most common cause of poisoning in the United States. NAC works together with glutathione to help rid the body of toxic chemicals.


(American Journal of Physiology: Endocrinology and Metabolism, published online June 23, 2015)