Cleansing the Body at an Important Time of Year
Our bodies have the enormous task of processing all of the chemicals that we are exposed to in our environment. During the holiday season, our bodies take on an even larger burden with increased intake of unhealthy food and drinks. Thus, the end of the year is an ideal time for detoxification, both to undo some of the damage we have incurred, and to get a head start on optimizing overall health for the New Year. The liver is an amazing organ primarily responsible for metabolizing all of the chemicals, toxins, and drugs we ingest. The liver also has various other functions such as producing numerous proteins and hormones, bile production, glucose regulation and storage, and cholesterol and triglyceride synthesis. In addition, the liver is the only organ capable of regenerating lost tissue.
Nearly one-third of the total body blood flow is pumped through the liver each minute. The liver filters this blood, including the blood coming directly from the intestines, which is carrying various chemicals, bacteria and nutrients. This filtration minimizes the amount of bacteria, toxins, chemicals, foreign proteins and antigen-antibody complexes in the blood prior to the blood entering the general circulation. The liver then processes these chemicals and toxins through multiple pathways.
Phase 1 reactions involve processing chemicals to prepare them for phase 2 of detoxification. Phase 1 metabolites are often highly reactive and potentially even more toxic intermediates. Phase 2 reactions involve conjugating these highly reactive molecules to render them harmless and ready for excretion in the urine or feces. An important enzyme in phase 2 detoxification is glutathione transferase, which
uses reduced glutathione to neutralize the reactive intermediates from phase 1 reactions. Ideally, phase 1 and phase 2 detoxification is in balance, and toxins, drugs, environmental and endogenous chemicals are metabolized and excreted from the body. However, imbalance in these two pathways can result in an increase of free radical production resulting in cellular damage and increasing the need for antioxidants to neutralize these free radicals. An individual’s ability to detoxify chemicals varies greatly, as research indicates that phase 1 detoxification not only decreases with aging, but research has also demonstrated a five-fold variability of phase 1 functioning in healthy individuals.
Decreased liver function for any reason can result in any number of symptoms including fatigue, allergies and chemical sensitivities, acne or broken blood vessels on the skin, intolerance to fatty foods or alcohol, changes in mood or weight, changes in cholesterol or triglyceride levels, nausea and constipation. Overt liver disease presents with more obvious symptoms such as yellowing of the skin, liver enlargement, itchy skin, dark urine, pale stool, easy bleeding, blood sugar problems and gallstones. Our constant exposure to environmental chemicals increases the demand on the liver. These chemicals are found in our air, food and water. Food additives and preservatives, pharmaceuticals, solvents, alcohol, tobacco smoke, herbicides, pesticides and heavy metals such as aluminum, arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury and nickel are only a few of the chemicals that adversely affect our health. In fact, even our water supply is loaded with chemicals including pharmaceuticals, heavy metals, pesticides and agricultural and industrial chemicals. An investigation by the Environmental Working Group detected 260 contaminants in U.S. public water supplies, and more than half of those chemicals are unregulated and without set safety standards.
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Glutathione’s Crucial Role
Another method to enhance detoxification pathways is to increase levels of glutathione, a potent antioxidant required for proper detoxification of pollution, radiation, drugs, carcinogenic chemicals, heavy metals and other toxins from water and food. Reduced glutathione interacts with toxins such as heavy metals to make them less reactive and thereby less damaging to cells. In doing this, the glutathione becomes oxidized and is no longer functional. Thus, glutathione needs to be constantly replenished. In the liver, glutathione conjugation in the phase 2 detoxification pathway makes fat-soluble toxins water-soluble, allowing the toxins to be excreted in the urine. Toxins such as mercury are removed from the body by direct conjugation with glutathione.18 Glutathione can be depleted with increased free radical production during phase 1 detoxification, resulting in decreased glutathione conjugation in phase 2 detoxification and the build up of toxins and heavy metals in the liver. Liposomal Glutathione can be supplemented to increase glutathione levels and promote detoxification. Liposomes are a fat-soluble “bubble” that allows for increased absorption and protects the glutathione so it remains in the reduced or active state. Cells serve as a gathering place for most toxins because the toxins are able to pass through fatty membranes. Glutathione directly binds with toxins, especially if the correct type of enzyme is present. However, approximately 10-30 percent of the population is lacking this glutathione-enhancing enzyme.19 In these people, increasing glutathione through supplementation may help increase the chance of a glutathione molecule pairing up with a toxin. When glutathione binds with toxins, the combination becomes water soluble, allowing for its removal.
Helping Toxins Leave the Body
When undertaking a detoxification program, it’s important to also consume adequate fiber to help escort toxins out of the body. Fiber is necessary for proper bowel transit time by increasing the frequency of bowel movements. If toxins remain in the intestines for a prolonged period, as with constipation, the toxins are reabsorbed. Also, in the intestines, fiber binds to excreted toxins to help reduce reabsorption and promote toxin elimination. Furthermore, increased fiber intake helps positively balance the intestinal microflora, which aids in reducing endotoxin production from pathogenic bacteria.
With the New Year fast approaching, it is an ideal time to address detoxification. Optimizing liver health by using the botanicals and nutrients found in HepatoGen combined with Liposomal Glutathione will assist the body in detoxification of all of the chemicals and toxins we eat, drink and breathe. Furthermore, consuming a high-quality fiber supplement will help the body fully eliminate all toxins.
Article Written By Nieske Zabriskie, ND