A few weeks ago I went along to a seminar called Toxic Planet all about detoxification and digestion. We spoke about the environmental toxins but in all simplicity of it, it came down to how we can best improve our own digestion and detoxification processes to deal with toxins most efficiently. Yes we can avoid toxins in plastics, non-organic foods and by avoiding highly polluted areas... but we can't avoid all toxins living in the western 21st century.
We drive cars, we use mobile phones, and fly interstate. These we can't always avoid. So what can we do? We can ramp up how efficiently our liver and our body deals with these toxins so we are not left getting sicker and sicker that's how. And I'm here to show you the way.
Just a few points I took away...
+ Acid is key to optimal stomach digestion first and foremost. How to boost it and make sure it's at a level it should be? There's a few options - apple cider vinegar is my favourite (taken before meals in a little water - enough to make you scrunch up your face), gentian root is a herbal bitter, hydrochloric acid, as well as the amino acid arginine which in addition to boosting stomach acid levels, also boosts blood flow to the stomach (peanuts are super high in arginine)
+ Glutamine (another amino acid) boosts stomach acids and increases blood flow to the pancreas
+ Gut repair needs amino acids from protein sources
+ Ginger helps to prevent gastric ulcers
Here's where it gets juicy...
Liver and Detoxification
When is the best time to do a detox? Right now. And no I don't mean because Spring is right around the corner. Yes Spring is a great time to do a detox protocol, but most people would be surprised to know that our body's are detoxifying 24/7. So the best time for a detox is now. Is at your next meal. Dinner tonight. Be eating in a way that optimises, induces, improves upon, and allows for sufficient and proper detoxification all the time, we are doing the best thing for our body. In addition to this, throw in a boosted-up-detox 3x a year.
There are two phases our bodies go through during detoxification; Phase I (PI) and Phase II (PII). Both of these need to be in tip top shape for thorough detoxification to properly occur.
Now I don't want to get too science-y on you, but in PI, there are enzymes named "cytochrome P450" which are essential, and these are the good guys that convert fat-soluble toxins into water-soluble molecules that can then exit the body. They grab all the toxins and in fact make them worse, breaking them down into free radicals (oxidation here = loss of an electron for the nerds out there).
Then in PII this is where those free radicals are made water soluble by adding an amino acid, which makes them easier for our body to get rid of.
Put another way, think of PI as someone coming along and continually dumping rubbish at the tip. Non stop. All day long. PII is when someone else comes along and takes the rubbish away to be discarded. Comprendo?
So you can see that if PII is not working efficiently (which is actually not uncommon), all the toxins are getting dumped but are not getting taken away, which in human body speak means they are recirculating back into our bloodstream.
So how do we get PI and PII working to the best of their ability?
1. Ensure optimal gut health; this in itself is a whole other blog post, and it will be different for each individual. Your gut health might already be pretty good, but more often than not, most people's are pretty dodgy from what I've seen. Leaky gut is becoming more and more common and this must be healed and sealed or toxins we inevitably be getting into your bloodstream thanks to the leaks in your gut lining where they can seep out of.
2. Eat green veggies as they are high in phytonutrients that help regulate PI and PII; specifically Brassica family vegetables like broccoli and brussel sprouts.
Raw broccoli is not good if you have an under-active thyroid though - steaming it is much better.
A nutrient called calcium-D-Glucarate found in vegetables is great at detoxifying estrogen.
Watercress consumption improves PI and PII by increasing excretion of detoxified metabolites in urine by 30% (ie. got more crap out through peeing) and it reduces DNA damage
Artichoke improves detoxification, and artichoke extracts have a anti-oxidative and protective effect on the liver
3. Eat sulphur rich foods; eggs, onion, garlic, leek, spirulina, broccoli. These help with PII
4. Ensure adequate protein levels; not too little and not too much. Not enough protein simply means that PII is not gonna happen, which means all the toxins being dredged up from PI have nowhere to go, and end up recirculating in your body.
5. Get more antioxidants into your system; these stop the free radicals forming in PI. Brazil nuts are fabulous here as they are high in selenium which is the precursor to glutathione; the master antioxidant if you like. Brazil nuts also contain fibre, arginine, fat and protein - essential nutrients for proper detoxification. Other antioxidant-rich goodies are green tea, all berries, foods containing vitamins A, C, E and my favourite - acai!
6. Keep your bowels moving; 25% of detoxification and removal of toxins occurs in the intestine. In addition to this, if our liver cannot detoxify all the hormones we have circulating in our body (particularly if we have an excess of any hormone/s), the excess is sent to the gut for excretion (to get rid of). What if we don't have optimal levels of good gut bacteria? Those hormones get reabsorbed. And that excess keeps on climbing.
Green tea maintains bowel detoxification and induces PII, inhibits free radical damage and reduces cancer incidence
7. Move; exercise makes us sweat which is a form of detoxification for our skin. Our lungs expel more carbon dioxide and bring in more oxygen. We burn fat cells (where all toxic products get stored... less fat means less toxins). Win win win!
8. Know any drug-herbal interactions; if you are on prescription drugs and are thinking about certain herbal remedies, or are taking any, you need to be aware of potential contraindications. For example echinacea makes drugs more toxic. Not so great when you're dosed up on sudoephidrene and echinacea for your cold. Other common ones to be aware of include hypericum, kava kava, licorice and tumeric. Talk to your doctor and a naturopath if this is you.
And be warned... If you are taking some form of pharmaceutical medication daily, your liver is constantly detoxifying this/these to the point it doesn't get enough time to detoxify all the carcinogens, pollutants and hormones also passing through your liver, and do you know what this will inevitably result in? All those side effects listed on the side of your medication packet. Go figure. When put like that it makes perfect sense now doesn't it?
Need to balance your hormones?
Clean out your liver and clean out your gut. Your liver is having trouble detoxifying and processing your hormones, the excess gets sent to your gut to get rid of, but if you have a crappy gut with not enough of the good bacteria, the hormones get reabsorbed. And hey, you're back where you started.
So let's put this all into something we can easily walk away with today...
A "Detox Diet" meal plan for a day
(ie. a regular day of eating for anyone who knows their body is always in detoxification)
On waking -
Lemon juice in filtered water (hydrates the body + kick starts digestive processes)
Or acetyl carnitine before a workout (increases dopamine + increases metabolism)
Then move your body somehow (running, walking, yoga, swimming, stretching, weights session, gym class, rebounding, dancing in the living room...)
An omelette with onion, garlic, and green salad with watercress (protein for PII + sulphur + phytonutrients) or
A smoothie with berries, LSA, acai, nut milk and brown rice or pea protein (protein for PII + antioxidants + arginine + fibre for bowel health)
Soaked nuts; brazil nuts are wonderful (selenium + antioxidants + protein + arginine + fats + fibre)
Boiled eggs (protein + sulphur)
Veggie sticks with hommous or broad bean dip (antioxidants + fibre + protein + carbohydrates)
Lunch and Dinner -
Avocado (great fat that stimulates bile)
Cruciferous veggies (detox hormones + helps PII + bowel health)
Salad (antioxidants + fibre + bowel health)
Sashimi (protein + essential fats)
Roast veggies (fibre + antioxidants + carbohydrates)
Steak or chicken or legumes (protein needed for PII detoxification)
Filtered water (the best thing you can drink besides fresh spring water)
Green tea (antioxidants)
Coconut water (amino acids + electrolytes)
Nettle tea (nourishing)
This is by no means a definitive diet. I'm not going to list everything but by all means use this as a guide.
Eating foods such as those I've listed above will ensure your body is getting adequate macro- and micro-nutrients for your health, but it will also ensure you are fueling your system with all the necessary nutrients needed for proper and sufficient daily detoxification processes.
So instead of eating crap all year and then buying a pre-packaged detox kit come Spring, and only then ditching the sugars, alcohol, wheat, dairy and/or anything else that may be upsetting your individual body (only to go back to eating them all again 7 days later), why not practice eating in a way that will boost your health and promote wellness everyday?!? It is not difficult. It is not tasteless. It's easy and tastes freaking amazing in fact!
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