Detoxification has become one of the key flagship words in alternative health and alternative medicine. Millions of people every year go on various detox diets, or detox supplements of some kind. And while there can certainly be a lot of value to much of this, there can also be adverse reactions that people experience as well as a lot of misunderstanding about what detoxification really is.
What Is Detoxification?
Detoxification is a fundamental process of our cells. The most basic form of nutrition and detoxification is breathing. Oxygen is the most fundamental and important form of nutrition and carbon dioxide is the most common waste product generated when our cells generate energy.
The body uses the nutrients from food in combination with oxygen to make ATP (biological energy).
Detoxification is essentially the process whereby the cells make energy and are able to functionally eliminate the end products of metabolism. Detoxification is very much about efficient energy production, cell membrane permeability and nutrient and oxygen utilization.
Toxicity, Nutrition & Detoxification
The constituent properties of foods (macro-nutrients, minerals, amino acids, vitamins) have specific functions within the metabolic processes. Besides nutrients, there are other exogenous substances that enter the body called xenobiotics.
The word ‘Xenobiotic’ is derived from the Greek words meaning “foreigner” or “stranger”. Xenobiotics classically pertain to chemicals, but I will include toxic metals in this classification because toxic metals are also foreign to the body.
Common xenobiotics are pharmaceuticals, antibiotics, aspartame, fluoride, pesticides, PCB’s, dioxins, and other chemicals. Common toxic metals are aluminum, mercury, lead, cadmium, arsenic and nickel.
Xenobiotics can damage the biological processes of the body in a number of ways. They can impede upon normal metabolic functions, are potentially toxic to the brain and nervous system and can damage and augment the function of organs and glands.
The alterations of endocrine function affect the thyroid, parathyroid, pituitary, adrenals, spleen, pancreas, ovaries and testes. These endocrine altercations change the rates of cellular metabolism, augment growth and development as well as impede normal immune and brain function.
The combined effect of multiple toxins is one of the least studied, yet some studies indicate serious risks associated with their combined effects. For example, arsenic, a toxic heavy metal, will become 100X more toxic when exposed to alcohol.
Life in modern civilization is loaded with sources of environmental toxicity.
In the U.S., the state of Maine recently banned the use of BPA in re-usuable food and beverage containers, and Oregon is considering similar legislation. The Federal Government has done nothing whatever to regulate BPA. Are you aware of what common toxins are in your environment?
High Quality Foods Are the Best Raw Materials for Detoxification
The nutrients from food are the fuel for all of your cells. High quality, organic, and minimally processed foods are the foundations of nutrition and detoxification. When you eat foods that are in harmony with your type of metabolism, your body gets the right fuel sources, and consequently knows exactly what to do with it.
Consider that protein is essential for detoxification of the liver. In fact, the amino acids cysteine, glutamine and glycine are the precursors to glutathione production. Glutathione is how your body detoxifies chemicals and heavy metals. The sulphur rich amino acid methionine is essential for phase 2 liver detoxification. Many people believe that avoiding protein foods is detoxifying to the body, when in fact the opposite is true. Animal protein is the richest source of amino acids, especially the sulphur-bearing amino acids.
Selenium is a powerful antioxidant and free radical scavenger. It serves as a sulfhydrl agent and assists glutathione utilization. About 30% of selenium in the body is bound to glutathione peroxidase. Glutathione is the body’s most ubiquitous and concentrated endogenous antioxidant, powerfully scavenging free radicals, chemicals and heavy metals. Selenium also assists the antioxidant capabilities of Vitamin E, scavenging peroxides, and protecting cell membranes.
Support & Maintain Biological Functions
Optimize your body’s energy production by eating right for your type of metabolism.This is fundamental to how your cells make energy as well as how efficiently they are able to detoxify.
“Cleansing” types of diets are inadequate in most cases. Nourish yourself first with the right kinds of metabolically essential foods. This is the foundation to detoxification of your cells. In order for your body to be able to efficiently detoxify chemicals and heavy metals, your body needs energy.
Heavy Metal & Chemical Detoxification
If a person has high levels of heavy metal toxicity, the worst thing to do from the beginning is to try to detoxify heavy metals with things like chlorella. Chlorella can be valuable, but it is not fundamentally the most important thing. Of critical importance is to optimize energy production through an adequate food plan that is in harmony with your Metabolic Type. Taking supplements that remove heavy metals can become very harmful because of how rapidly some of these products eliminate heavy metals and chemicals.
The body needs energy to detoxify, and biological energy is derived from food.
Once a Metabolic Type-appropriate nutrition plan is implemented, then it makes sense to begin looking at enhancing metal and chemical detoxification. Although this process should be done gradually and over a longer period of time rather than all at once.
The detoxification pathway that should be enhanced for metal detoxification are the liver’s 2 pathways of detoxification. This involves glutathione conjugation. Certain nutrients like alpha lipoic acid taken together with N-acetyl Cysteine, vitamin c, glutamine and glycine can rapidly increase glutathione production. This protocol should be done only under the guidance of a qualified practitioner.
Strategy for Detoxification
Here is a step by step strategy for enhancing nutrition and detoxification. The following recommendations are not meant to be absolute or universally applicable, but rather should be used as a starting point
- Eat in harmony with your Type of Metabolism to optimize biological energy production. A nutrition plan that is in harmony with your type of metabolism will enhance your body’s detoxification pathways.
- Drink high quality, non-chemically treated water. Water is the essence of life that helps to keep the cells hydrated. Hydration is critical for detoxification because in order for your cells to work properly they must maintain an adequate electrical charge. Organic vegetables and vegetable juices are loaded with the electrolytes necessary to charge the cells.This is also true for mineral salt solutions. As with anything, mineral salts should be done in accordance with each person’s individuality.
- Support the organs of digestive function and detoxification as necessary. This may include the strategic use of digestive enzymes, viable probiotics, betaine hydrochloride, malic acid and bile acid glandulars.