August 17, 2021
We are exposed to toxins every day – in our food, air, and water.
Without proper detoxification pathways, they eventually start accumulating in your body and causing damage. Your liver is one of the most important detoxification organs in your body and it does a lot of good work for us – but even that can’t handle being bombarded with too many toxins. What are some other ways we can help our bodies get rid of these harmful substances? Read on!
Many people don’t realize that there are many different types of toxins we come into contact with in our day-to-day lives, including air pollution, heavy metals, pesticides, plastics and solvents. These substances can have a huge impact on your health if they’re left unchecked – so it’s important to learn about the ones you might be exposed to and how best to detoxify them from your body. Let’s take a closer look at some common toxins!
Air pollution is one of the most serious environmental issues facing the world today because it affects all living things on Earth. The toxic chemicals and particles found in the air are created by industrial and manufacturing processes, burning fossil fuels, and the associated waste. These have a huge impact on our respiratory system, skin, and mucous membranes.
Heavy metals are incredibly dangerous toxins to the human body because they bind with biological systems in the same way as important nutrients we need for health. Over time these toxic heavy metals can bio-accumulate in the body and cause damage. Common heavy metals include lead, mercury, copper, cadmium, nickel, and zinc. Aluminum is not technically a heavy metal but is often considered in this same category because it’s so toxic and can bioaccumulate. They are found in air pollution, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, cookware, drinking water, food, cigarette smoke, medications, personal care products, and even some supplements, medications, and vaccinations!
Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs):
These are man-made chemicals that are so incredibly toxic, not even nature can break them down. While many have been banned in the US, many countries still employ them and because they are persistent, they’re still impacting our health. POPs include old pesticides, dioxins, and PCBs. The problem with POPs is that they are incredibly difficult to remove from your body once you’ve been exposed! This can result in chronic health issues for some people – especially if their exposure was ongoing over a long period of time. POPs are especially damaging to the endocrine system (hormones).
Toxins are also produced by bacteria and yeast in the gut and can be absorbed through the intestines. Particles of bacteria that have been killed and broken down can also cause inflammation and contribute to conditions like leaky gut. These microbial toxins have been linked with liver diseases, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, thyroid disease, psoriasis, pancreatitis, lupus erythematosus, allergic reactions, asthma, and various immune disorders. In addition to the toxic byproduct, the body’s own immune system can crossreact with the body’s own tissue leading to autoimmune conditions.
Endogenous toxins are "self-made" toxins that we produce in our own bodies through normal cellular functions. They can cause oxidative stress on the body and contribute to chronic illness conditions like diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease when not properly detoxified. There are a few specific detoxification organs that also play a role in metabolizing and removing endogenous toxins from the body. Importantly, these include your liver, your kidneys, and your gut. Disorders or dysfunction in any of these processes due to nutrient deficiencies or excessive toxin exposure can interfere with the detoxification process.
There are four routes of detoxification in the body that need to work together to keep the toxins from accumulating and causing problems: the liver, kidneys, respiratory system, and skin.
The liver filters the blood pulling out substances that are toxic. Nearly 2 quarts are filtered every minute! When functioning properly, the liver can remove 99% of the bacteria and toxins from the blood before it circulates through the body.
The liver also produces bile which serves as a carrier for many toxins for elimination from the body. Dysfunctions in the bile production, secretion or gall bladder can interfere with this process, thereby allowing the toxins to be reabsorbed.
The kidney helps by filtering out waste products in the blood that are water-soluble. These toxins get eliminated from the body via urine. This is one critical reason why drinking enough water is important – to ensure proper urine production and elimination of toxins.
The respiratory system and skin play smaller, yet vital roles in detoxification. Both of system systems also play a direct role in how we get exposed to toxins – and help prevent those toxins from entering. The skin provides a physical barrier preventing entry into the body, yet many lather their skin with toxic personal care products (lotions, body washes, shampoos, conditions, perfumes, and sunscreens).
The nasal passages provide small hairs and mucus to capture entering bacteria and toxins. The respiratory system and skin are also linked with the lymphatic system, an important part of your immune system. Toxins can be released through exhalation or sweating.
Nutrients needed for detox
There are various pathways used by the body for detoxification. They are generally classed as either Phase I or Phase II. Phase I uses enzymes that can directly neutralize some chemicals or create intermediate compounds that can be further detoxified using phase II enzymes. Phase I enzymes are activated by cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts), foods rich in B vitamins ( ), and citrus fruits that are high in vitamin C (not grapefruit). Phase II enzymes are activated by cruciferous vegetables, protein (amino acids glycine, methionine, taurine, cysteine), and other nutrient-dense foods.
There are many nutrients needed for detoxification. The micronutrients most important for liver detox, include magnesium, selenium, coenzyme A, glutathione, glycine, vitamin B6, methionine (SAM-e), choline, folate, vitamin B12, and zinc.
Eating a diet filled with quality proteins and whole plant-based foods will provide your body with the necessary nutrients for proper detoxification. Quality supplementation can also be used to fill any additional needs.
The first step in a great detoxification system is eliminating as much exposure to toxins as possible. Choosing quality personal care products, home care products, non-toxic cookware, filtered water, and pesticide-free foods will go a long way toward reducing your toxic load.
Naturopathic Doctor Denver
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