Good health is determined not just by the type of food we consume, but also by the body’s ability to digest this food, absorb its vital nutrients and eliminate the waste materials. This is where effective and efficient detoxification comes crucial to our optimum health. Detoxification is the processes whereby toxins and other harmful compounds, are either neutralised or excreted from the body. Unfortunately, it is inevitable to avoid toxins in our daily lives – they are in the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink and even in many believed-to-be healthy alternatives in the form of artificial sweeteners. Moreover, even the body itself produces toxins as a result of the metabolic processes inside.
The liver, intestines and kidneys are our detoxification organs. Toxins are fat-soluble highly reactive substances that need to be converted to less harmful compounds in the body before spreading to the nearby cells. When toxins build up the body, they pass through the liver which then activates specific nutrients to neutralise them. The newly formed less dangerous molecules will then be attached to other vital nutrients to build water-soluble substances that the body can now eliminate.
Modern living has brought a huge increase in the toxic load for the liver, leading to an overburdened liver in some people, and hence causing dangerous imbalances in the body. As a result, conditions, such as acne, chronic headaches, increased gut permeability, and even constant fatigue are becoming quite common due to poor liver function. Therefore, we must take care of this vital organ, if we want it to continue serving us well and help us leave healthier.
In today’s post, I would like to draw your attention to a better way to detoxify the body – through the right supplements and foods, rather than going on prolong and ‘starvation-like’ detox programmes that do nothing but helping you lose weight in the form of water and muscles. Such diets nourish the body to an extent but to make sure the nutrients actually reach the cells, the liver and the body need to be prepared for this first.
- Lipotrophic nutrients
The liver produces bile which helps remove fat-soluble toxins, such as cholesterol and hence it’s important to consume substances that encourage the secretion of this fluid.
- Choline and Inositol
Choline participates in fat metabolism as it promotes the flow of lipids through the liver. Inositol, on the other hand, works with choline to help break down the fat cells and remove them from the liver.
This amino acid also takes part in the breakdown of fats preventing them from building up in the liver. This is due to its ability to increase the levels of another amino acid taurine which stimulates bile flow. Methionine is also a potent antioxidant which protects the liver from free radicals – the dangerous by-products of detoxification.
Artichokes gently stimulate bile production while their key active compound cynarin, is an antioxidant which helps prevent cell damage. Poor bile flow is related to fatty meal intolerance and irregular bowel habits. Studies show that including 320mg of artichoke leaf extract with 5% cynarin content are useful to treat the above conditions.
2. Re-circulation prevention
Liver detoxification occurs in two phases. Phase 1 neutralises the toxins through the help of vitamins B2, B3, B6, B12, folic acid and iron. The second phase depends upon an adequate supply of antioxidants which will bind to these neutralised toxins to make them water-soluble and hence suitable for excretion from the body. If the body does not have enough antioxidants, the toxins might be reabsorbed back in the body, putting us in a vicious cycle of toxins overload.
- Alpha Lipolic Acid
This is one of the most powerful antioxidants for the body as it works in both water and fat environments unlike most antioxidants, such as vitamins C and vitamin E that are effective only in water and fat respectively. Thus, supplying the body with alpha lipolic acid will protect the liver from free radicals and help the elimination of toxins. A starting dose of 250-500g is recommended depending on the person’s toxic levels.
This compound acts to detoxify harmful substances such as heavy metals, solvents and pesticides. It binds to these fat-soluble toxins and also protects the liver from free radicals as it is a powerful antioxidant.
The amino acid is often used to treat gut issues as it strengthens and heals the intestinal wall. It feeds the cells of the digestive system and helps them repair and regenerate. This makes it important for detoxification as a damaged gut wall may allow toxins to be reabsorbed in the body. It is also an antioxidant and is best consumed as powder in its natural ‘L’ free-form as this makes it ready to be absorbed and used by the body.
- Green tea
Green tea is a powerful antioxidant which scavenges free radicals as it contains catechins (polyphenols) that are found in high quality green tea leaf extract. For relevant potency, it’s best to take a green tea extract with around 250mg catechins.
3. Toxins Elimination
Once toxins are converted to less harmful molecules they need to leave the body before building up and then being reabsorbed. This requires a healthy bowel function and a well-working digestive system.
Our diet must aid the process of detoxification and provide the nutrients required for the process. It’s important to drink plenty of water and organic herbal teas, such as peppermint, ginger, dandelion, nettle and fennel are great digestive helpers. Consuming plenty of green leafy vegetables and citrus fruits, such as grapefruit and lemon, will add necessary vitamins and minerals. To reduce the burden on the liver, try to eat organic whenever possible, drink filtered water, reduce alcohol and smoking and spend more time in nature, around clean air. Limiting processed foods and sugar, staying away from fat-free labels as they often contain artificial sweeteners, and aiming to eat balanced meals of complex carbs, lean meat cuts and healthy fats are also vital.
- Fructo-oligodsccharides (FOS)
This is a source of soluble fibre that promotes bowel health by drawing water into the waste material to add bulk to the stools and facilitate easer bowel movements. FOS is a prebiotic substance which feeds the friendly gut bacteria that promotes better peristalsis in the GI tract. Use FOS that is derived naturally from chicory root, since only this form is scientifically proven to help digestive health. Avoid synthetic version from sugar beet as they do not bring the same benefits.
The abundance of friendly gut bacteria ensures a well-functioning digestive system and factors such as medication, stress and illness are known to reduce the amount in the body. Thus, a good supply of 10-30 billion bacteria, 1-2 a day is necessary.
As you can see, detoxification is not just about what we eat but also the type of supplements and nutrients we consume to prepare our body for this process. Don’t follow generic detox diets or eat whatever is believed to be useful for the purpose. Assess your health status first (what’s the extent of toxic exposure you experience) and then prepare your body for the process – slowly but smart.
For more information on how to start your individual supplementation and nutritional programmes to a healthier and cleaner way of eating, get in touch.
In Health & Balance,