The Importance of Detoxification in Today’s Toxic World – Invite Health Podcast, Episode 40
Invite Health Podcast, Episode hosted by Jerry Hickey. Ph
Your body is constantly producing or taking in toxins. Normally, your body is equipped to handle this through your innate detoxification systems but, years ago, we passed a tipping point where many of us are taking in more toxins than we can get rid of. My good friend Dr. Alan pressman had a name for this – toxic overload – which happens when the ability to remove toxins is overwhelmed by the amounts you take in.
How Chemicals and Toxins Impact Your Body
You are taking in chemicals in many ways. Some important routes of entry include personal care products, like hair care products and deodorants, which can be absorbed through the skin, and pollutants.
Chemicals from beauty products have been connected with breast cancer, uterine fibroids, and preterm birth. (For more on how these products impact your body, click here!) These ingredients are strong estrogens with the most powerful being synthetic fragrances and parabens. The milk ducts of the breasts are loaded with hundreds of different types of bacteria. The good news is that Probiotic bacteria have been shown to break down and remove these chemicals, helping to protect breast tissue. This is important because these chemicals are powerful estrogens which tend to build up in the breasts and cause the most harm.
Inhaling pollutants from vehicular exhaust or from boilers that heat water in large buildings, give off black carbon and other noxious chemicals. When inhaled, these particles are easily dissolved into your blood and your heart instantly pumps them throughout your body. This fine soot is connected to kidney damage, kidney failure, fatty liver, age-related eye disease, dementia, stroke, heart attack, asthma, other lung diseases, and hair loss. Fire retardants used in clothing and furniture builds up in your fatty tissues. Add in fungicides, herbicides, pesticides, phthalates, and of course super-toxic heavy metals, such as mercury, arsenic, and lead. And this is just the tip of the iceberg, but certainly a very nasty tip.
Your Body’s Natural Detoxification System
Your body is well equipped to flush away toxic waste on its own, but only if you’re living a generally healthy lifestyle. The liver, kidneys, skin, gut, and lungs are always working to get rid of stuff that doesn’t belong. Here’s how each organ plays its part in making sure you stay as “clean” as possible:
- Skin: Your skin creates a barrier between you and the world – it is considered your first line of defense by keeping germs and toxins on the outside. Your skin also sweats to expel some toxins.
- Lungs: Your lungs inhale toxins so they have to be well-equipped to expel them again when you exhale and also with phlegm.
- Gut: Your digestive system (especially if it is rich in good bacteria) sorts out the good bacteria from harmful bacteria and sends it through the system to be flushed out through waste.
- Kidneys: One of the main jobs of your kidneys is to get rid of toxins, making water imperative for flushing out pollutants. Your kidneys are constantly at work, purifying the blood and flushing the bad stuff away.
- Liver: Your liver is the major organ of detoxification, cleaning the blood of toxins and other things like viruses, particles of Styrofoam and bacteria, neutralizing it and then dumping it out with the waste.
- Lymph system: Lymph-fluid circulates throughout the lymph vessels, picking up waste products from your cells and carrying waste away to the bloodstream where toxins can be processed and eliminated. When your body is healthy, it does a good job of keeping us protected from toxins. However, with so much chemical exposure today, your body’s natural detoxification mechanisms need help.
How you can detoxify your body?
- Drink water; water is a solvent, just think of how the Colorado River created the Grand Canyon and you know the power of water. Water dilutes and rinses away toxins via the urine.
- Exercise; In 2012, a review of 24 studies shows that many toxins are expelled in your sweat, including cadmium, mercury and lead. Many toxic compounds including phthalates are also excreted in your sweat. Interestingly, during exercise, your muscles take on the characteristics of your liver and process out more toxins. Muscle actually produces a protein called “PGC-1α1” which, during sweaty exercise, protects the brain by detoxifying a depression-related chemical that comes out when you are stressed.
- Follow a healthy diet; healthy, fiber-rich foods nourish good bacteria that prevent constipation. After all, you don’t want toxins hanging around in your intestines for days, giving them a chance to break free of your waste and become recycled. Good bacteria also removes toxins directly. But beyond that, good bacteria are needed to activate the constituents in vegetables and fruit that stimulate detoxification in your liver and kidneys. These vegetables and fruits that are worked on by the good bacteria, which then support detoxification. Broccoli and other cabbage family vegetables, dark berries such as blueberries, pomegranate, garlic, leaks, onions, and egg yolks are all good sources of foods that support detoxification.
Supplementation for Detoxification
Your kidneys and liver deactivate and remove toxins typically in a two-step process termed phase 1 and phase 2. It is important to have these phases in balance. Phase 1 breaks toxins down by using a series of enzymes. Sometimes this actually activates toxins and makes them more dangerous. Phase 2 often is needed to finish up the process by adding an agent to the toxins, rendering them inactive and completing the process of removal. The toxins then are removed from the body by urine or feces. If phase one detox is more active than phase 2, the toxins will be activated and will build up in your system.
For phase 1 (to break down toxins) you need protein and a good multivitamin. A superior multivitamin supplies you with Vitamin A, the mineral Magnesium, Folate and other B-Complex Vitamins, which are necessary for the function of the hundreds of enzymes involved in the Phase 1 detoxification pathway.
Additionally, make sure you can activate Folate because without it not only can toxins build up but you cannot adequately protect yourself. Folate is needed to create healthy red blood cells. It is also key in lowering the level of a dangerous metabolite known as homocysteine which is best known as a toxin to the cardiovascular system that can contribute to developing a stroke.
Phase 2 finishes off the process of detoxification by adding an agent to the toxin in a process called conjugation. If your phase 2 activity can keep up with phase 1, you are safer because you are removing toxins hopefully before they cause harm.
Phase 2 also requires protein. The amino acids Taurine, Cysteine, Glutamine, Methionine, and Glycine are added to toxins in phase 2 rendering them inactive and more water soluble so you can excrete them. Organic Sulfur is required and is found in the Taurine and Cysteine previously mentioned but also in smelly foods such as cabbage, broccoli, onions, garlic, and egg yolk.
Some B vitamins, Vitamin C and again activated Folate are required. So, once again, a superior multivitamin comes in handy. The mineral Magnesium, Selenium, and Choline are required. The best sources of Choline are egg yolks. A good Krill Oil supplement comes in very handy here; it supplies choline as phosphatidylcholine which is better absorbed than regular choline and is very useful for detoxification. Phosphatidylcholine also protects the brain and memory, and your muscles, nerves, and liver while modestly helping reduce cholesterol. The fact that it helps protect the liver while the liver is busy processing toxins gives Krill Oil added value.
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Questions about your body’s natural detoxification processes? Leave a comment below for Jerry Hickey, Ph.