Society if being increasingly exposed to toxic compounds in the air, water and food
What are Toxins?
What is Detoxification?
How the Detoxification System Works
Diet and Liver Function
Detoxification comes in many forms and refers to many different programs that
cleanse the body of toxins. As society is being increasingly exposed to toxic
compounds in the air, water and food it has become apparent that our ability to
detoxify substances to which we are exposed to is of critical importance in our
What Are Toxins?
Toxins are defined as compounds that have a detrimental effect on cell function
or structure. They are everywhere- in the air we breathe, the food we eat, and
the water we drink. Even our bodies and the bacteria in our intestines produce
toxic substances. Once the detoxification system becomes overloaded, toxins
accumulate which with time can disrupt our normal bodily functions.
Heavy metals tend to accumulate within the body severely disrupting normal
function. Common sources of heavy metals, in addition to industrial sources,
include lead from pesticide sprays, cooking utensils, the solder in tin cans,
cadmium and lead from cigarette smoke; mercury from dental fillings, contaminated
fish, and cosmetics; and aluminium from cookware.
Nutritional factors that combat heavy metal poisoning include: A high potency
multi vitamin and mineral supplement. Minerals such as calcium, magnesium, zinc,
iron, copper and chromium Vitamin C and B-complex. Sulphur-containing amino
acids (methionine, cysteine, and taurine and high-sulphur-content foods, such
as garlic, onions, and eggs. Water soluble fibres such as guar gum, oat bran,
pectin, and psyllium seed.
What is Detoxification?
Detoxification of the body may refer to the cleansing of the bowel, kidneys,
lungs, the liver and the blood, since these are the organs involved in elimination
of chemicals and toxins from the body.
How the Detoxification System Works
The body eliminates toxins either by directly neutralizing them or by excreting
them in the urine or faeces. Toxins that the body is unable to eliminate build
up in the tissues, typically in our fat stores.
The Kidney The kidneys are largely responsible for the elimination of toxic
waste products of protein breakdown (ammonia, urea, etc). Drinking adequate
amounts of water and avoiding excessive protein intake can support the kidneys.
The Liver The liver plays several roles in detoxification:
Filtering the Blood One of the liver's primary functions is filtering the blood.
Filtration of toxins is absolutely critical for the blood that comes from the
intestines because it is loaded with bacteria, endotoxins (toxins released when
bacteria die and are broken down), and various other toxic substances.
The Bile The liver's second detoxification process involves the synthesis and
secretion of bile. Each day the liver manufactures approximately two pints of
bile, which serves as a carrier in which many toxic substances are effectively
eliminated from the body. Sent to the intestines, the bile and its toxic load
are absorbed by fibre and excreted. However, a diet low in fibre means that
these toxins are not bound in the faeces very well and are reabsorbed. When
the excretion of bile is inhibited (cholestasis), toxins stay in the liver longer.
The Enzymes The liver's third role in detoxification involves a two-step enzymatic
process for the neutralisation of unwanted chemical compounds. These include
not only drugs, pesticides, and toxins from the gut, but also normal body chemicals
such as hormones and inflammatory chemicals (e.g. histamine) that would be toxic
if allowed to build up. Phase I enzymes directly neutralise some chemicals,
but many other are converted to intermediate forms that are then processed by
Phase II enzymes.
To ensure that Phase I is working well, we recommend that you eat plenty of:
Brassica-family foods (cabbage, broccoli and brussel sprouts) Vitamin B-rich
foods (nutritional yeast, whole grains) Vitamin C-rich foods (pepper, cabbage,
and tomatoes) Citrus foods (oranges and tangerines, but not grapefruit).
Phase II detoxification involves a process in which various enzymes in the
liver attach small chemicals to the toxin. This neutralises the toxin or makes
the toxin more easily excreted through the urine or bile.
Diet and Liver Function If you want to have a healthy liver, there are three
things you definitely want to stay away from: saturated fats, refined sugar,
and alcohol. In contrast, a diet rich in dietary fibre, particularly the water-soluble
fibres, promotes increased bile secretion. Special foods rich in factors that
help protect the liver from damage and improve liver function include:
Diet and Liver Function
If you want to have a healthy liver, there are three things you definitely
want to stay away from: saturated fats, refined sugar, and alcohol. In contrast,
a diet rich in dietary fibre, particularly the water-soluble fibres, promotes
increased bile secretion. Special foods rich in factors that help protect the
liver from damage and improve liver function include:
High sulphur content foods, such as garlic, legumes, onions, and eggs. Good
sources of water-soluble fibres, such as pears, oat bran, apples, and legumes.
Cabbage-family vegetables, especially broccoli, brussel sprouts, and cabbage.
Artichokes, beets, carrots, dandelion, and many herbs and spices such as turmeric,
cinnamon, and liquorice.
Detoxification should include skin cleansing, because our skin is one of our
best eliminative organs. Heavy metals are actually released through the skin's
pores when we sweat.
Therefore the skin should be thoroughly cleansed, and the use of chemical skin
care products should be avoided as they may be absorbed into the circulation
and provide even more toxins for our organs to deal with. Occasional skin exfoliating
is necessary as it removes accumulated dead skin cells, unclogging the pores,
allowing the skin to breathe properly. Also, since our skin is mainly fat, natural
oils such as olive oil and evening primrose oil would be a good way to keep
the skin in optimum condition.
A high potency multivitamin and mineral is a must when detoxifying. Antioxidant
vitamins such as vitamin C, beta-carotene, and vitamin E are important in protecting
the liver from damage, but even simple nutrients like B-vitamins, calcium, and
trace minerals are critical in the elimination of heavy metals and other toxic
compounds from the body.
Choline, betaine, methionine, vitamin B6, folic acid, and vitamin B12 are important
nutrients and are referred to as lipotropic agents. Lipotropic agents are compounds
that promote the flow of fat and bile to and from the liver. In essence, they
produce a "decongesting" effect on the liver and promote improved liver function
and fat metabolism.
If one wants to detoxify by directly stimulating specific eliminative organs
then herbs may be used. For example Uva ursi, parley, dandelion, ginger, dong
quai and golden seal aid in kidney detoxification. Marshmallow and slippery
elm help with lung detoxification.
There is a long list of plants that exert beneficial effects on liver function
such as dandelion, parsley, chamomile and black cohosh. However, research has
been done on a special extract of milk thistle (Silybum marianum) known as silymarin,
a group of flavonoid compounds.
In human studies, silymarin has been shown to have positive effects in treating
liver diseases of various kinds, including cirrhosis, chronic hepatitis, fatty
infiltration of the liver, and inflammation of the bile duct. The standard dosage
for silymarin is 70 to 210 mg three times per day.
Our bowel flora is also important for detoxification and normal health. Probiotics
(such as L.acidophilus and B.longum) are friendly bacteria supplements that
increase our bowel flora. They defend our body from the pathogenic species of
bacteria and perform vital function, such as detoxification of toxic chemicals
and making valuable vitamins (mainly the B vitamins).
Keeping the bowels moving is a major step in regaining our health since the
bowels are crucial in the elimination of toxins, especially those processed
by the liver.
Constipation slows the bowels which leads to the accumulation of which are
reabsorbed and carried back to the liver for recycling and elimination. Reabsorbed
bile salts have been linked to increased cholesterol levels. Also, when the
bowels get slow and toxin levels increase, the pathogenic micro organisms grow
to outnumber the normal flora.
The easiest way to get the bowels moving is by using a high fibre diet consisting
of fresh fruits and vegetables. Sometimes, one may add extra fibre during the
day by drinking a glass of water with psyllium husk powder. The extra fibre
adds to the bulk of the stool and decreases the bowel transit time, which means
better toxin elimination and better health.
The best way to support detoxification reactions during a fast is to go on
a three-day fresh fruit juice fast rather than a water fast. Drinking fresh
juice for cleansing reduces some of the side effects associated with water fast,
such as light headedness, tiredness, and headaches. During this period, your
body will begin ridding itself of stored toxins.
While on fresh fruit juice fast, individuals typically experience an increased
sense of well being, renewed energy, clearer skin, and a sense of purity. To
further aid in detoxification during the fast, follow the following guidelines:
Take a high potency multivitamin and mineral supplement to provide general
support. Take a lipotropic supplement. Take 1000 mg of vitamin C three times
per day. Take 1 to 2 tablespoons of a fibre supplement at night before retiring
(the best fibre sources are the water soluble fibres, such as powdered psyllium
seed husks, guar gum, oat bran, etc.) If you are particularly overloaded with
toxins, take silymarin at a dosage of 70 to 210 mg three times daily.
Detoxification is essential for good health and wellbeing. The inability of
our body's organs to eliminate toxins effectively would have a detrimental effect
on our health.
Therefore important advice would be to eat a balanced diet that provides us
with high levels of nutrients and fibre which are primal factors required for
proper functioning of our organs. Then only can our body begin eliminating toxins
efficiently, restoring health and energy.
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