Well, Christmas is rapidly approaching - I like to get mini calorie-burning mission in the bank and a detox mission planned before the New Year.
Supporting detoxification is vital for health and well-being in so many ways. Here are some thoughts on detoxification pathways and fast-track ways to enhance detox.
Some of these might also help you feel better after a night out so you can practise them before and after your Christmas parties!
Detoxing: What, Why and How?
There’s no doubt that we are surrounded by plenty of substances which are toxic to the body. Pollution in the air and water, additives, chemicals, plastics and chosen toxins from alcohol, cigarettes and other drugs or medicines all add up and contribute to our total toxic load.
The things that protect us against all these factors are phytonutrients, antioxidants, antioxidant enzyme systems and the ability the body has to detoxify through the liver and filter toxins in the kidney. Ultimately the body can sweat out, pee out or poo out toxins. As well as protecting itself internally with phytonutrient intake, optimum enzyme function, healthy liver function and supporting nutrients.
The phytonutrients will assist detoxification capabilities, amino acids assist phase 1 and phase II liver detoxification. Minerals and other cofactors and herbs such as milk thistle can also act as powerful detoxification stimulants and support.
We can choose to take in fewer compounds that require detoxification. We don’t after all need to buy foods with chemicals added. We can choose not to eat foods sprayed with pesticides or fungicides. We can filter our air at home, walk away from busy streets to a certain extent reducing exposure to exhaust fumes.
Also, we don’t need to choose to take in too much alcohol, any cigarettes or other drugs. Caffeine (in moderation) actually stimulates detoxification so doesn’t need to be avoided on a detox.
When we rid the body of chemicals through the digestive tract we need good levels of bacteria, fibre and water to keep the bowel moving nicely. Excessive levels of protein can putrefy in the bowel making the plant to protein ratio another important aspect when considering overall detoxification potential.
Juice fasting removes amino acids from the diet which are essential to liver detox. These fasting protocols should be supported by adequate intake of amino acids. Some aminos such as NAC are extremally powerful liver supporting detox aids. These are still used medically as the ‘go to’ treatment for accidental pain killer overdose.
Many pollutants are trapped in the fats we eat and are stored in our own fats after consumption. You cannot wash toxins out of the fat in dairy, fish or meats. Nonorganic meats and dairy is a good idea to avoid. Fish can be polluted with both plastics and heavy metals such as mercury.
Sometimes there’s too many things to worry about avoiding so just increasing large amounts of phytonutrients from “eating the rainbow” using organic green type drinks, exercising, eating plenty of fibre, taking sauna, using liver supporting herbs and maintaining good levels of clean hydration are all we can do in this increasingly toxic world we are living in.
REDUCE TOTAL TOXIC LOAD
You can control the quality of the air you breath at home with a good air filter. You can filter your water at home also removing any potential contaminants.
Maintaining good gut health prevent leaky gut which can quickly burden the body with larger sized molecules of food and other bowel toxins. This will prevent the vicious cycle of chronic toxic overload.
Toxins take energy to deal with and can cause problems with function. Plastics are known endocrine disruptors increasing / potentiating oestrogen and messing with insulin sensitivity. Mercury can increase oxidative stress. Excessive levels of some minerals such as zinc or manganese can also act as toxicants disrupting other pathways via reducing internal antioxidant enzymes systems like SOD.
We live in an environment where we are constantly exposed to toxins of various kinds. These can be obvious like pollution from factories and cars and less obvious with additives, preservatives and other chemicals added to many foods. You can read all about these in the anti-nutrients chapter.
We can also create toxins in the body, sometimes when we are ridding the body of a substance the intermediate chemical is more toxic before it’s transported out of the body. We also often take drugs like prescription medicines, alcohol or tobacco which all need processing and detoxifying.
Some exposure to these chemicals is unavoidable. What we can do is to reduce our level of exposure in general by choosing the right foods and drinks, cleaning our air and water in our houses and increasing the function of detox pathways in the body.
The body processes toxins through 4 main routes, sweat + urine, the liver and the stool. We can also protect cells against poison and toxins by consuming enough antioxidants and keeping the bodies antioxidant enzymes super active.
The liver processes toxins via a phase I and II pathways with different nutrients required to process different toxins. Many of the phase II pathway rely on amino acids to function properly. The kidney’s act as a blood filter these are phase III if you like in the detox process.
Diluting toxins with enough fluids makes them less harmful. Increased fibre intake makes transporting toxins out through the stool more efficient. Sweating regularly and using sauna can help support detoxification as can losing excess body fat as some toxins are stored in fatty tissue.
Many traps are out there promising full body detox, juice cleanses and the like and these can give nutrition a bad name, but remember we do live in a toxic environment now more than ever perhaps. The science on the pathways is concrete – support these and use liver supporting foods and herbs to keep these areas functioning properly.
Take care of gut health as this is vital to support liver health.
Quick Take home messages on detoxification;
- Reduce exposure where possible unless it’s a conscious choice e.g. alcohol intake
- Drink plenty of clean water and filter your water at home
- Clean your air at home with a quality air filter
- Eat plenty of vegetables, fruit and fibre
- Lose excess body fat and liver fat
- Support digestive health with probiotics and pre-biotics
- Increase glutathione in the body
- Use aminos for specific detoxication support
- NAC, MSM, ALA and milk thistle are powerful liver supporting nutrients
- Avoid drugs, pesticide, preservatives and chemical additives where possible
- Eat organic where possible
Final words from Matt...
Many of my products are designed with these antioxidant enzymes systems + glutathione in mind. For example, the R5 Aminos have many nutrients mentioned in the article. Alpha Greens contain excellent levels of MSM and NAC. I don't make a pure milk thistle but I would suggest getting one if you feel you need an extra detox push or liver support.....Stuck for stocking fillers? try out the spice range.