We are exposed to a wide variety of toxins in our everyday life that can interfere with normal, cellular processes essential for health. The liver, our natural defense system, bears the brunt of responsibility for detoxifying most of these poisons, including alcohol, environmental toxins, endotoxins, drugs etc. It accomplishes this by taking a toxic, fat-soluble substance that is not readily excreted, and changing it into a non-toxic, water-soluble substance that is easily excreted.
It does this in two phases: In phase one, a functional group is either exposed or added to the toxin, creating a toxic intermediate and generating free radicals. Antioxidants can prevent the oxidative damage resulting from these radicals. Quercetin, vitamins E and C, beta carotene, N-acetyl cysteine, selenium and curcumin are all radical scavengers and can be helpful in offering antioxidant support. In phase II, conjugating agents (nutrients) conjugate, or "hook on" to the toxic intermediate, and pull them out of the body. Glutathione is one of the major conjugating nutrients in the liver (active in the reduced form), along with glutamine, glycine and taurine, and many others. Vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and conjugating agents all support the detoxification process in the liver. Milk thistle, silymarin, and beet root specifically support liver function.
Total fasting is discouraged in detoxing, because it increases the rate of the processes but depletes the body of necessary conjugating agents (nutrients). Decreasing caloric intake somewhat, however, will help the liver rest and enhance processes while providing the essential conjugating nutrients. Some of the cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli and cauliflower, have a favorable effect on the detoxification process. Asparagus and garlic can provide sulfur to enhance elimination pathways. After substances are conjugated in the liver, the work can be undone, however, calcium D-glucarate inhibits the enzyme which allows for reabsorption of these conjugated substances. Bacteria and parasites can also deconjugate substances such as estrogen and bile acids, and their populations need to be discouraged.
Although the liver is an important detox organ, it is not the only route by which the body rids itself of toxins. Also vital to the proper functioning of the organism are the elimination pathways of the colon, skin, lungs, blood and urine. All of these pathways carry away toxic products that can assault our systems well-being. Fiber is one of the main things to watch in optimizing toxin removal in the colon; it also exercises the muscles of the large intestine and decreases the potential of harmful organisms to adhere to the intestinal lining. Elimination pathways of the skin (largest surface area of any eliminative organ), lungs, blood and urine are facilitated and supported by nutrients such as Coenzyme Q-10 and helpful herbs, such as dandelion, mullein, garlic and eleuthero. Efficient elimination processes through all of the detoxification pathways are vital to the health of an organism.
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