Top Remedies to Detoxify Your Body
Detoxification is a buzzword we hear almost daily in health and wellness websites and publications. Many of our patients and clients ask us questions about detoxification such as: What is detoxification? Is doing a detox a good decision for me? Are there side effects? What are natural remedies to boost my body’s natural detoxification pathways?
Our philosophy is simple. Your body is burdened with exogenous and endogenous toxins (from without and from within) daily. Our bodies have developed sophisticated mechanisms to rid ourselves of unwanted compounds. These mechanisms require our bodies to allocate energy and resources. As a result, supporting your body’s natural mechanism can be a great way to optimize your body.
Before we get down to the specifics about how to detox, let’s talk about why we should. The CDC has multiple divisions that are responsible for overseeing the industrial chemicals that make their way into our environment and to asses these chemicals impact on human health. One such division is the National Biomonitoring Program (NBP). The roll of this program is to determine, measure, and track the environmental chemicals in the population. This is an expansive program that tracks thousands of known industrial chemicals.
Every chemical tested for had verifiable concentrations found in the human population. One such class of chemicals are flame retardants, chemicals added as a safety precaution to just about every product that can burn. From mattresses to carpets, from automobiles to televisions, these chemicals find their way into our bodies, where they should not be. A recent study, led by Duke University, tested the urine of 857 adults and children for exposure to 2 types of flame retardants. The majority of participants were found to have these chemicals in their urine. Additionally, these levels rose steadily in samples collected between 2002 and 2015.
Much research needs to be conducted to determine the health impact from environmental chemicals. Additionally, the presence of a certain chemical in blood or urine samples does not necessarily mean that it will cause disease. The bottom line is this: we are all exposed to chemicals daily and these chemicals find their way into our bodies. The good news is that our bodies have developed sophisticated mechanisms to rid ourselves of unwanted compounds.
Phase I and Phase II Liver Metabolism
The mechanisms at play for detoxification occur in the liver through a process called Phase I and Phase II metabolism. The word detoxification used in health applications typically refer to this process. The process, also known as Xenobiotic Metabolism, is a process designed to rid your body of unwanted compounds. A xenobiotic is a chemical substance found within an organism that is not naturally produced or expected to be present within that organism. Much of what we know about the process is through the study of Pharmacokinetics, or drug metabolism.
Phase one and two work together to modify a chemical in such a fashion that allows your body to excrete them through normal bodily functions. The relative “toxicity” of a chemical is correlated with your body’s ability to properly metabolize it. Phase 1 uses a class of enzymes called Cytochrome P450’s. These enzymes are heavily studies for their role in drug metabolism and everyone has unique variations in functionality of these enzymes. Phase 1 modifies a chemical, typically by the addition or removal of a functional group.
Phase II liver metabolism conjugates these modified xenobiotics with compounds such as glutathione (we will talk more on glutathione below). The process is often referred to as “conjugation”. Typically, phase II liver detoxification converts fat soluble compounds into water soluble compounds.
Once the process has converted toxic substances into inert ones, fat soluble compounds into water soluble ones, the body’s natural excretory functions are able to remove these compounds naturally.
As we talk about detoxification, what we are really referring to is the body’s natural mechanism for removing unwanted and possibly harmful compounds. Detoxification diets and supplements are all designed to support this process.
Phase I and Phase II liver detoxification is a naturally occurring process your body uses to rid itself of unwanted compounds. It does so by converting fat soluble compounds to water soluble ones that allow for removal via normal excretory functions. Supporting and supplementing this process is a way to assist and enhance this process.
Should I Detox?
Toxic load is a prevalent problem and one that many people suffer from. A detox program typically uses a combination of dietary medications, supplements, and other strategies. According to Dr. Hyman, MD the director of the Cleveland Clinic’s center for functional medicine, you need to consider a detox if you have FLC syndrome (Feel like crap). While he uses the name in jest, if you are not feeling as vibrant as you used to, if you suffer from fatigue or brain fog, with no apparent reason or significant life event, a detox may be a good option for you. Additionally, if you are struggling to lose weight and you are having difficulties controlling your sugar and carbohydrate cravings, than a detox can help.
A detox is a very effective strategy to regain focus, and feel great again. A detox diet in conjunction with dietary supplements is often our first recommendation when you walk in the door.
Top Strategies to Enhance My Natural Detox Process:
Now that we know we live in a toxic world, and we know how our body copes with this, how do I support my body’s efforts? We have established many ways to get your body running optimally.
This is one of the most important things you can do. Herbicides and pesticides are used with increasing frequency in our modern agricultural system. These chemicals ensure a bountiful harvest. But there is a downside. A recent study found that 93% of participants had Glyphosate residue found in their urine. Eating organic is a way to mitigate exposure to these environmental toxins. A good way to eat clean but still save money is to focus on the clean 15 and always buy the dirty dozen organic. Click here for more information on the dirty dozen and the clean 15.
Go Gluten and Dairy Free
Gluten and Dairy are known inflammatory foods. When we say inflammatory, we are referring to an immune reaction that occurs when you eat them, specifically in the gut. There are any number of foods that may be causing an immune reaction, Gluten and dairy just so happen to be usual suspects. Inflammatory foods, and the immune reactions they cause, places unnecessary burden on the liver. Removal of these foods are a critical step in supporting your bodies detoxification pathways. If you want to know if there are specific foods in your diet causing trouble, consider talking to your doctor about taking a "Dietary Antigen Test" to test your unique food allergy profile.
Above we discussed the mechanism for detoxification. Once your body converts toxic compounds and is ready to get rid of them, sometimes you sweat them out! Infrared technology is a great way to enhance this process. Infrared saunas use light wave to penetrate your skin and provide a deep sweat and a deep detox. They are also great for burning calories and losing weight.
Your bodies master antioxidant. This compound is used in so many functions that it is indispensable. As we learned above, your liver uses this compound to conjugate toxic compounds and prepare them for excretion. Glutathione is a powerhouse antioxidant and every cell in the body produces it and deficiencies are common because of an influx of stressors. Glutathione functions extensively in tissues and organs throughout the body playing a critical role in protecting tissue from oxidative stress, maintaining cellular functions, and supporting healthy immune function. Glutathione is available as a supplement and is best found as a liposomal (fat soluble), although S-Acetyl Glutathione shows promising absorption into the blood stream while not considered a liposomal.
Known for its liver protective effects, milk thistle is a common supplement for supporting the livers natural processes. Also known as Silymarin, Milk thistle is an herbal extract traditionally taken orally. It is also a usual component in detox formulas, along with other nutrients on this list.
NAC / N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine is critical because it is one of the most important antioxidants in the body and protects cell and tissue health in helping to rid the body of metal toxins and also supports the body’s glutathione production. NAC restores the liver’s normal levels of glutathione, which is the brain’s most important antioxidant and has been shown to reduce the formation of free radicals that can contribute to oxidative damage to the brain. NAC also helps to heal damage of the liver and also helps to breakdown large amounts of mucus, supporting respiratory and eye health. Both glutathione and NAC help reduce the viscosity of the mucus allowing for clearing of the airways and improved respiratory health. NAC also protects the kidneys by reducing kidney related toxicity.
Green Tea Extract
Green tea extract is critical to include because it contains polyphenols and catechins. Polyphenols protect red blood cells from oxidative stress (free radicals) and also have a direct impact on the liver. The liver is the body’s major detox organ and polyphenols help protect the liver and its antioxidant capacity to reduce free radical damage by neutralizing free radical molecules before they damage cells. Catechins in green tea extract also contain antioxidants and bind to toxic substances performing dual functions during detoxification. Green tea extract also contains EGCG/epigallocatechin-3-gallate which supports glutathione production and healthy insulin activity as well as immune function and support the endocrine system.
A detoxification program may be a good choice for you. You may need to speak with your physician to discuss a protocol that’s right for you, or if you have any health conditions. Supporting your body’s natural detoxification pathways is an easily obtainable process in today's world.
- Joshua Lovern