In the last post, I gave a simplified explanation of the detoxification pathways. Now, let’s look at how to actually support your body’s detoxification pathways safely. If you’ve wondered about going on a “detox,” this is what you need to know!
There are several angels from which to approach improving detoxification.
The big three steps you’ll want to pay attention to when embarking on a detox:
1 – Reducing the toxins your liver has to deal with in the first place.
2 – Addressing gut issues and open drainage pathways
3 – Support the liver with specific nutrients and compounds to repackage and remove the various toxins.
This is not just a week or two long cleanse. Your liver is working to detoxify your body all day every day so it needs to be supported every day!
1) Reducing Toxic Burden
The more the liver has to deal with, the more likely it is that the liver will struggle to keep up with the demand. Also important to note is that Phase 1 of liver detoxification creates free radicals. And some of what comes out of phase 1 is actually more dangerous than the original substance!
You obviously cannot get rid of all sources of toxins affecting the liver but you do have some control. Reducing and eliminating the ones that you can is a good first step:
- Food sources: preservatives and artificial colors. Charred foods from grilling. Pesticides in foods
- Environmental sources: pesticides, industrial pollution, glyphosate, fertilizers, cigarette smoke, etc.
- Medications: obviously some of these are necessary but pharmaceuticals and OTC medications do impact the phases of liver detoxification.
- Skincare products: lotions, hair care, soaps, makeup, perfumes, etc.
- In the home: non-stick cookware, cleaning supplies, even the flame retardants in furniture
Any attempt to focus on improving detoxification must involve a focus on reducing exposure to the areas you have some control over. Limiting alcohol, eating whole foods, eating organic when possible, switching out home and skin care products for non-toxic versions all will play a role in de-burdening your liver.
2) Addressing gut issues and drainage pathways
This is another step for detoxification improvement. It’s really focusing on the ability of the body to do Phase 3 well. Before bringing in any specific supports to move Phase 2 along, you need to make sure your body can adequately remove the toxins you’re trying to push out.
The liver gets rid of toxins through various drainage pathways. It takes the toxins from Phase 1, conjugates them in Phase 2 and then drains them either into the blood to be filtered and removed by the kidneys in urine, or into the bile to be sent into the digestive system and removed through the bowels during Phase 3. It is important to make sure everything is able to flow freely and well.
Think of your bile (produced in the liver and stored in the gallbladder) like a river that the liver deposits toxins into to be removed. If the bile is sludgy and backed up, you’re going to get a backlog of toxins hanging out in the body like stagnant water that gets full of gunk.
To support healthy bile production and flow drink enough water, consume enough healthy fats, and include foods that support bile flow and production like bitter foods (dark leafy greens, dandelion greens or dandelion root tea, lemon, radishes, beets,) and meats and seafood for some specific amino acids that are needed.
3) Supporting the liver with nutrients and support for Phase 2
Once you have paid attention to making sure drainage and elimination pathways are supported and simultaneously been working to reduce the toxic burden in the first place, you can really start to focus on bringing in some supplemental support for Phase 2 of detoxification.
There is a lot that can be done here with just foods to encourage and support Phase 2 of detoxification:
- Cruciferous vegetables like kale, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and cabbage
- Alliums like garlic, onion, chives, and shallots
- Amino acids glycine, taurine, cysteine, and methionine: meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, nuts
- Herbal teas: especially dandelion root and milk thistle.
- Any and all colorful vegetables: these are full of antioxidants which are needed for Phase 2!
- Liver: what better way to support the organ doing this detoxification than consuming that organ from animals? This way you’re getting the exact nutrients your liver needs. See my Fullscript favorites list “organ superfoods” for supplemental versions if you don’t want to eat it 🙂
If you’ve been struggling with fatigue, headaches, weight gain, skin issues, hormonal imbalances, or other health issues, some more targeted supplemental support may be warranted. Reach out to me here to discuss if this might be needed for you.
As you can hopefully see, proper detoxification isn’t about just drinking some green smoothies or even just not eating sugar for a few weeks. Your liver is constantly being tasked with detoxification and never gets a break.
If you are going to pursue a deeper detoxification protocol, you are going to need to make sure you pay attention to all of these important factors. And I’d recommend reaching out to me to discuss your best course of action to do it safely and effectively!