First off, what do I mean when I say "detoxification"? Here is a quote to keep in mind while you read this post:
"Genetics loads the Gun. Environment pulls the trigger"
An article published in 2015 in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism deeply dives into various plant-derived phytochemical and specific antioxidants that can turn up the volume of detoxification. Actually, there are many phytochemical and antioxidants that can turn the volume for detoxification down too.
Detoxification, aka biotransforamation in technical terms, is a process that occurs every second of your life from the time you are in the womb until you reach equilibrium, and all thing cease (death). Detoxification is simply your body's way of protecting your cells and tissues from harmful chemicals. It is a multi-phase process, in which your body transforms harmful chemicals that are difficult to get rid of, into less harmful chemicals that are relatively easy to get rid of.
Detoxification occurs in every cell, and nearly every tissue. However, most of the heavy-duty detox takes place in your liver and the kidneys.
As an over simplification here is what happens: Chemicals enter the body. If they are water-based (aka water soluble) they can be eliminated easily through the urine, sweat, poop, and exhalations.
If the chemicals are fat-based (or fat-soluble) they have to undergo a transformation to become water soluble. Unlike water soluble chemicals, fat soluble chemicals are not so easy to get rid of. According to a well-know Toxicology text book, "there are no efficient ways for the bod to rid itself of lipophilic (fat soluble) chemicals".
cytochrome P450 pathway) where they become "reactive" and more water soluble. Once the fat-based chemicals are reactive, they are shuttled into phase II detox. The fat soluble chemicals must undergo phase I detox (technical term:
In phase II detox, reactive chemicals react with nutrients and enzymes to become water soluble and less harmful. After phase II detox, the now-water soluble (less harmful) chemicals are ready to be eliminated from the body via urine, sweat, poop, and exhalation.
Capabilities of phase I and phase II detox can be controlled largely by genetics, and even more by our diet, hydration status, stress levels, exposure, and lifestyle habits (aka environment)
So, what can go wrong? Often times fat-soluble chemicals trying to enter phase II can't enter due to very "long lines" to get into the second phase. At this point, when the "lines are long", chemicals that have been through phase I or that have not been detoxified at all will get impatient, and enter back into the main-stream circulation.
The body (being as brilliant as it is) immediately flags these reactive chemicals (that can cause damage and oxidative stress) traveling the the blood, and stores them away in the fat cells, where they have less risk of causing stress, trouble, or long-lasting damage. The storage of these harmful chemicals is known as bioaccumulation. It happens in humans and mammals alike.
"dilution is the solutions for pollution". Be it dilution by holding more fat or holding more water.People with high exposure to chemicals (technically known as toxicants or toxins), may have a large storage shed of chemicals in their body, their fat cells specifically. This can cause all kinds of problems, but one problem is that the body may be inclined to store more fat to dilute the large amounts of stored toxins. After all,
People who have a high "total toxic load" or high amount of stored or exposed toxins tend to have a whole host of deleterious symptoms. These people are the ones who get sick often, can't tolerate drinking wine or beer, are hyper-sensitive to fragrances, have immune reactions to various types of foods, experience headaches ad fatigue frequently, can't sleep well, and who have trouble thriving overall.
So, what can you do about all this information?
A lot actually. As we started off saying, "genetics loads the gun, environment pulls the tigger", which means what we can do lies largely in the modification (or optimization) of our environments. Diet, hydration, and frequency of sweating are three super-duper easy ways to make strategic changes, which will support every day detoxification.
HOW TO AVOID PULLING "TH
E TRIGGER": Manage Your Environment
1. Let's start with water. WATER keeps us hydrated. Without it, we would not exist; it is the medium that allows us to remove chemicals via urine, sweat, poop, and exhalations. All of these "biofluids" are what carry toxic chemicals out of our bodies. Yes, water has a may other functions, but serving as a means of transport for toxins is a HUGE, and under appreciated job of water. Aim to drink 2 to 5 liters per day depending on age, body weight, sweat frequency, elevation, etc.
2. Get 25 to 40 grams of FIBER from whole foods, per day (make sure you're drinking water with it!). Fiber in a type of carbohydrate that humans can't breakdown, digest, or absorb. Fiber adds bulk to our foods, and also to our poop. Fiber not only feeds the healthy bacteria that keep toxins moving through the gut (by increasing gut motility), but fiber also BINDS TO TOXINS and ensures they are eliminated. When fiber binds to toxins (in the bile salts) it makes it so that toxins 1) can't be reabsorbed into the blood stream and 2) are eliminated in your poop. Fibers' roles in binding toxins and gut motility are ultra important because toxins can be reabsorbed if gut motility is slow. PSA: drink water with all high-fiber diets! Seriously!
You can get detox-supporting FIBER from the following foods:
Winter squash provide PECTIN fiber: pumpkin, buttercup, buttercup, kabocha, acorn, and any other winter squash
Beans & fruit provide SOLUBLE fiber: any variety
Starchy vegetables provide RESISTANT STARCH, SOLUBLE & INSOLUBLE fiber: beets, sweet potatoes, parsnips, carrots, plantains, jerusalem artichokes, rutabaga, and Japanese sweet potatoes.
Non-starchy vegetables provide INSOLUBLE fiber: think green veggies, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, etc
3. Eat polyphenol antioxidants & detox-supporting secondary plant compounds from plant-based foods such as cruciferous vegetables, teas, herbs, roots, rhizomes, spices, dark colored fruits and vegetables, and "super foods" (e.g. cacao beans, goji berries, acas berries, coffee).
Check out the screen shots below from the aforementioned journal article. These tables show the foods that "turn up the volume" (up regulate) on phase I detoxification. Add these foods to support detoxification of hormones, drugs, pharmaceutical residues, and general environmental toxicants.
4. Get at least 20 grams of protein at each meal or snack. I know I sound like a broken record, but it's true; protein consumption is essential for optimal health. As far as detoxification goes, proteins are broken down into amino acids. Amino acids are used in phase II detox to bind to toxicants so they can be water soluble, and are used to make the body's primary detox antioxidant, glutathione.
Glutathione is made of 3 essential amino acids. Without glutathione our bodies would not stay healthy. Moreover, glutathione levels are actually used as a marker of vitality and physical resilience. Elderly folks and sick folks have the lowest levels of glutathione. Get your protein from whole-food-based sources such as seafood, eggs, pastured meats, organic dairy, and beans.
5. Break a sweat everyday. Sweat has been proven to carry BPA, phthalates, illicit drugs, urea, and some heavy metals out of the body. After all, the skin is the largest detox organ. Use it as a pathway of elimination so that you keep your liver healthy. Typically, when the liver is bogged down, the skin gets rashes, pimples, acne, or other manifestations of toxicity.
It doesn't matter how you get sweaty; be it running, lifting, hiking, laying out in the sun, riding your bike, taking a hot yoga class, dancing, or sitting in a sauna or steam room. What matters is that you sweat daily. Make this a priority. Sweating has benefits beyond detoxification, however, sweat is truly a great means to decrease the body's total toxic load.
TAKE AWAY POINTS FOR EVERYDAY DETOX SUPPORT:
1. Drink more water
2. Eat fiber from fruits, vegetables, beans, and winter squash
3. Get your antioxidants
4. Eat 20 grams of protein per meal
5. Get sweaty on a daily basis