Detoxification - doing it properly
20th April, 20140 Comments
Toxins may arise either endogenously (from inside the body), or exogenously (from outside the body). Endogenous toxins arise from biochemical/physiological processes that are working less efficiently than usual. On the one hand, toxins may be produced at a greater rate than usual, and/or the usual detoxification pathways are not working as well as they should be. Alternatively they may be produced by infectious agents (bacteria, fungi/yeasts, viruses).
Common exogenous toxins include pesticides and related substances (biocides, insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, miticides), toxic metals and elements (mercury, cadmium, lead, aluminium, arsenic), drugs, or volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which include formaldehyde, benzene, toluene, plasticisers and trichloroethylene.
The first things to consider when dealing with toxins of any kind, is to:
• Identify the nature of the toxin(s).
• Identify the source(s) and period of exposure.
• Reduce further exposure to the minimum possible.
• Increase the rate of toxin elimination.
Often toxins have accumulated in the body over a prolonged period of time - often many decades. They are widely distributed through all body tissues, compartments and organs, concentrating in some more than others. If the rate of absorption of toxins into the body is greater than the rate of excretion, then accumulation occurs.
If the rate of excretion is greater than that of absorption, then the toxin level in the body will reduce. It is only a partial solution to increase elimination, if exposure is not being reduced - like trying to empty a bath with the tap still on. The aim of detoxification is to safely increase the rate of excretion of the toxin(s), improve nutrient levels and support the body’s normal detoxification routes.
The main detoxification routes are:
• Faecal - Via the bile from the liver.
• Urine - From the kidneys.
• Sweat - A number of toxins, including many toxic metals, pesticides and pesticide-like compounds, volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) and even many of our own endogenous toxins are excreted in sweat.
Self-help measures to increase your excretion of toxins
The following measures will have a significant impact on your handling of toxins:
Water - Drink between one and two litres every day. This can be easily achieved if you carry around and drink from one or more 500ml water bottles that you refill regularly. This also helps you to be aware of the quantity you are consuming. You may want to consider adding 'Myhill’s Magic Minerals’ or vitamin C powder.
Optimum Nutrition - Eat a diet that provides maximum nutrition (vitamins, minerals, protein, essential fatty acids, etc.). You should aim for a wholefood diet, preferably organic, with lots of vegetables (six to eight portions daily) and plenty of protein. Your diet should also contain some fruit, lots of nuts and seeds (esp. sunflower, pumpkin and linseed), herbs, spices, whole grains, and pulses (beans & lentils). Going on a good detoxification diet on a regular basis can make a huge difference.
Vegetable juices - Drinking freshly made vegetable juices is a wonderfully tasty and natural way of boosting your micronutrient intake and it actively helps with detoxification. Drink fresh vegetable juices as often as possible - two or three times a week 0r better still, daily for a week or two every so often.
Alkaline diet - Reducing acidity of the system can improve many symptoms, including the efficiency of detoxification. For optimum health you should make your system is as alkaline as possible (within reason). This can usually be achieved by reducing dietary acids and increasing alkaline foods and drinks.
Fruit - The best choices are probably avocado, berries, melon, guava, apricot, peach, papaya as they have no, or very limited sugars.
Little and infrequent - Keep acidic drinks and foods such as wine, fruit juice, fruit teas, tea, coffee, pickles, vinegar to a minimum.
Eat plenty of sulphur-rich foods - These include garlic, onions and anything from the cabbage family (cabbage, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli). Sulphur is vital for the body’s detoxification processes.
Eat plenty of protein - The sulphur-containing amino acids found in protein (methionine, cysteine and taurine) are particularly important for the liver’s detoxification processes.
Exercise - Take regular exercise (preferably something that you enjoy) for 20 minutes or more daily - or at least three times a week. It should be sufficient to increase your heart and breathing rates and make you sweat.
Improve antioxidant status - Oxidation/free radicals/reactive oxygen species are a major cause of tissue damage. Toxins increase their production and insufficiency. Optimising your antioxidant status is vital for health.
Far infrared saunas - Saunas are an excellent way of inducing sweating. Sweat can be utilised as an important excretory route and shifts large amounts of toxins, of all kinds.
Optimum upper gut health - The optimum functioning of the stomach and small intestine (also known as the ileum) are vital for detoxification. If you have problems with gas, abdominal bloating, rumbling or discomfort, heartburn, reflux, nausea, vomiting, etc., it is essential to accurately diagnose and address their causes. Sometimes one can even have problems here without obvious symptoms.
Optimum lower gut health - The optimum functioning of the large intestine (also known as the colon) is vital for detoxification. The lower gut is home to a huge bacterial population that is vital for our health and reabsorbs water and bile salts. Bile is the main excretory route for fat soluble toxins, so unfortunately when it is reabsorbed, so are a proportion of the toxins.
The longer faeces remain in the colon and the lower their water content - in other words, the more constipated you are - the greater the proportion of toxins will be reabsorbed. So the bulkier your stools, the higher their water content, and the more regularly you open your bowels - the more toxins that will be excreted in your stools.
This is a brief look at detoxification and it is hoped that the reader has a introductory insight into the processes and application required for detoxification.
Nutritionist Resource is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.
Top recent articles
Haidee Harvey-Brown DipIONMay 9th, 2017
Sarah Day DipCNM, mBANT, rCNHCMay 15th, 2017
Most viewed articles
Claire Hargreaves BSc Hons (NutriKind Nutrition)September 6th, 2013
Megan B Grover BSc, MMedSci, ANutrMay 16th, 2013