Often we become overwhelmed by the amount of toxins in our diet and environment.
Put simply, our capacity to remove toxins is less than the amount that we are exposing our bodies too.
This can lead to fatigue, weight gain, hormonal imbalances, cancer, infertility, depression etc...the list is infinite.
Organs involved in detoxification
The main organs of detoxification are; the liver, the gut, the kidneys, the lymphatic system and the skin.
Phases of detoxification in the liver
Phase 1 Phase 1 detoxification includes oxidation, reduction and hydrolysis and is catalyzed by P450 enzymes of liver cells. To put it simply, this pathway converts a toxic chemical into a less harmful chemical. During this process free radicals are produced which, if excessive, can damage the liver cells. Antioxidants can reduce the damage caused by these free radicals. If antioxidants are lacking and toxin exposure is high, toxic chemicals become far more dangerous. Some may be converted from relatively harmless substances into potentially carcinogenic substances. Excessive amounts of toxic chemicals such as pesticides can disrupt the P450 enzyme system by causing over activity of this pathway. This will result in high levels of damaging free radicals being produced. The danger is if these reactive molecules are not further metabolized by Phase 2 conjugation, they may cause damage to proteins, RNA, and DNA within the cell.
Phase 2 Phase 2 detoxification is also known as the conjugation pathway. The liver adds additional molecules, such as glycine, to toxic chemicals that have already been processed by phase 1, in order to make them harmless. This step makes the toxins water soluble, allowing for easy excretion and removal from the body. Efficient phase 2 detoxification requires certain substances, including sulfur-containing amino acids and nutrients like glycine, glutamine, and choline. Luckily, these compounds are found in foods like cruciferous vegetables, garlic and dark leafy greens. Unfortunately many of us do not eat enough of these foods to keep phase 2 in balance with phase 1. It is important to support and balance both these phases of liver detoxification because if phase 2 cannot match phase 1, the toxins processed by phase 1 are in a state that can cause much more harm in the body. Phase 2 of liver detoxification is often limited by nutritional deficiencies. Liver detoxification issues are most often due to inadequate phase 2 processes.
Phase 3 is the transport & elimination phase. This phase of detoxification involves the elimination of toxins from cells. The byproducts of phase 1 and 2 reactions are transported out of the cells into the bloodstream. This phase requires your whole digestive system to work well. If you are constipated, dehydrated or have poor gallbladder function this will hinder the body in the removal of the toxins and they will be reabsorbed back into the body.
Good gut & kidney health are important if we want to remove the toxins that have been released during phase 1 & 2. Quick fixes or rapid detoxes often only encourage phase 1. In people who have other medical conditions such as thyroid or kidney issues upregulation of phase 1 without support can often lead to further damage.
A diet high in lots of plant foods is most important. Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, sprouts, onions, garlic, lemon, ginger are particularly useful.
Eat brightly coloured fruits and vegetables for their high antioxidant properties.
Enjoy green tea, but avoid other forms of caffeine.
Avoiding inflammatory foods such as wheat, dairy, sugar, preservatives, colours artificial sweeteners & alcohol.
Eating organic where possible.
Drink plenty of clean filtered water.
When detoxing it is important to have plenty of rest & avoid stressful situations.
Gentle exercise is beneficial.
Avoid toxins in the home. Toiletries, sanitary products and cleaning products are often very toxic and also need to be processed by the liver
Skin brushing, saunas or massage can help to reduce the toxic load.
Supplements prescribed depending on patient requirements
St. Mary’s Thistle (milk thistle)
Broccoli sprout powder
Amino acids such as glutamine, cysteine, glycine
Partially hydrolysed guar gum