Do you ever experience a combination of any of the following symptoms?
Muscle aches, bad breath, unclear skin with acne or rashes, puffy eyes, headaches or migraines with nausea, fatigue, excessive body fat, constipation, bloating, other digestive complaints, poor memory, moodiness, or an inclination toward pessimistic thinking? We are here to help at New Life Chiropractic in Fort Wayne, In.
Well, if your answer is yes, then you know what it feels like to experience toxic overload. We may ingest, inhale, or absorb toxins from food, water, and air. Toxins can also be generated by bacteria in the gut and can be released as byproducts from normal metabolism.
Have you been exposed to environmental toxins?
The EPA's annual toxin release inventory showed that in 2011 alone, more than 4.09 billion pounds of toxic chemicals were released into the environment nationwide.
But everyone seems to be going more green, right? Wrong. The EPA's studies show the number of carcinogens and chemicals is only going up with every passing year. In fact, in one year, the number of toxic chemicals increased by 300 million pounds.
Thankfully, we have a liver. It can create amino acids. It can convert sugars to fats. It can convert fats to sugars. It can store vitamins A, D, E, and K, iron, and copper. It will extract energy from amino acids, if needed for emergency reasons. It metabolizes fats and helps emulsify them for digestion. It helps your blood clot. It fights infection by digesting harmful pathogens such as bacteria and viruses. The list goes on.
The number of roles the liver plays is quite miraculous. The role that interests us now, though, is its ability to detoxify. Phew! Our bodies would be so vulnerable to toxins and disease otherwise. Our liver's detoxification system is a natural, ongoing, 24/7, full-time job. And we wouldn't want it any other way, considering all the toxins we are constantly exposed to.
If we provide our body with optimum nutrition, our liver works efficiently.
What would happen if we didn't feed our body the right kinds of foods? The liver would no longer have all the tools it needs to detoxify. What would an impaired detoxification process look like? Other organs will start to suffer as toxins build up. Toxins buildup and deposit in the heart, pancreas, colon, the liver itself, and other organ systems.
How convinced are you that nutrition can help our liver detox more efficiently? Perhaps a closer look at just how the liver detoxifies our bodies can help us appreciate the role of nutrition even more!
Detoxification is not just one simple reaction. There are two very complex stages of liver detoxification--Phase I and Phase II--each involving multiple reactions and families of enzymes.
How do our bodies fight toxins before they injure us?
Our first line of defense is Phase I of liver detoxification. An unwanted chemical is in the body. During phase I, the liver takes that toxin; it uses enzymes to perform an oxidation reaction; the toxin transforms into a more excretable form, and then the toxin is excreted. Great. We're done here! Now, we're as healthy as can be, right?
Wrong. You may have noticed the word "oxidation" in that process. Wait, isn't oxidation harmful for our bodies?
Yes, indeed. The oxidation that occurs during Phase I actually generates free radicals that can cause damage to our cells and tissues. So, we fix one thing and hurt another? Well, this is where our diets come in. If our diets provide enough antioxidants, the free radicals generated during PHASE I can be quenched. In our DETOX FOODS list, you'll find several sources of beta-carotene, vitamin E, and selenium--essential antioxidants to support your liver detox system.
Other nutrients that your body needs to carry out PHASE I include niacin, magnesium, iron, riboflavin, as well as indoles. You'll find food sources of these nutrients in our DETOX FOODS list as well.
Thankfully, with adequate antioxidant supply, Phase II does a great job of quenching free radicals from Phase I. Of course, like Phase I, you need to supply your body with enough antioxidants to keep Phase II going.
What exactly does Phase II do? While Phase I will oxidize a toxin to transform it, Phase II will attach a molecule to the toxin to transform it.
One antioxidant that Phase II relies heavily on is glutathione--the mother of all antioxidants. Make sure to look for food sources of glutathione in our DETOX FOODS list.
Other nutrients Phase II needs that come from our diets include amino acids, glycine, cysteine, glutamine, taurine, and methionine.
Phase I and Phase II Enzymes
Both phases of detoxification depend upon enzymes. These are the workers. They make detox happen. Without them, no work would get done. Your B vitamins play a major role in activating these enzymes. Expect to see sources of B vitamins in the DETOX FOODS list for optimum detoxification.
It's time to give your most powerful detoxifier--your liver--a break and send it some love. The following is a list of foods to include in your detox plan. Please choose organic, if possible.
1. ARTICHOKES - This green veggie is super rich in antioxidants, such as cynarin, an antioxidant that stimulates bile production and boosts liver function to help it clean out toxins. You're getting powerful detoxicants with a side of potassium, folate, magnesium, vitamin C, and a great source of fiber!
2. GINGER - Okay, so it's more of an ingredient than a food. What makes ginger such an awesome detoxifier is that it increases circulation, lymph flow and aids in eliminating congestion from the lungs, sinuses, and cerebral areas. It also helps increase perspiration and elimination of toxins through the skin. Toxins often damage the digestive system and ginger helps restore normal digestion. (Sample uses: soups, sauces, tea)
3. TURMERIC - Okay, it's more of a spice than a food. But it's extremely effective at regenerating glutathione after it has been exhausted by Phase II. As a plus, curcumin, the compound that gives turmeric its fabulous yellow color, can directly inhibit cancer cells.
4. CRUCIFEROUS VEGETABLES - Okay, so this isn't a food, either. It's a category of an array of (mostly) green vegetables, such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, collards, and kale and some white vegetables, such as cauliflower and turnips. These detoxicants are truly unique. These veggies have powerful sulfur-containing compounds that convert into isothiocyanates (let's call them ITCs) when blended or chopped. ITCs work together to kill cancer cells, detoxify, and remove carcinogens and environmental poisons such as cadmium. Some ITCs activate enzymes involved in your liver's detox processes. Indoles from cruciferous veggies also enhance Phase I reactions. Another liver-helping nutrient found here is vitamin K. Aim for 1 serving of cruciferous veggies each day!
5. AVOCADO - This is more than just a tasty addition to your morning toast or salad. Avocado is a high in fiber, healthy fats, and toxin-flushing antioxidants. The "master antioxidant" found in avocado is glutathione. The liver is in constant need of glutathione to keep both Phase 1 and Phase 2 of its detox activity moving. If glutathione is depleted, these processes slow down or stop.
6. LEMON - Squeeze half a lemon into a glass of filtered water each morning to get a good boost of lemon polyphenols and vitamin C. It works wonders but not just for your immunity. Lemon helps rid the body of acidic chemicals and balances the body's pH levels. Lemon will help your body use its own detox systems efficiently.
7. ASPARAGUS - Meet another vegetable rich in glutathione. Asparagus is also a diuretic that helps clean out your main detoxifying machine - the liver.
8. GREEN JUICE or SMOOTHIE - Getting a variety of fresh, green vegetables in one tasty beverage aids digestion, boosts immunity, and purifies the blood and lymphatic system. Chlorophyll-rich greens, including spinach, parsley, celery, cereal grasses such as wheat or barley grass, and alfalfa sprouts are nature's best chemical and heavy-metal detoxifiers. (Sample use - combine with carrots or beets in blender)
9. WHOLE GRAINS - The B vitamins are huge helpers for those hard-working liver enzymes, especially during Phase I. Get a plentiful supply of B vitamins from whole grains, such as oats or brown rice. Steer clear of processed and refined grains - most of the nutrition is removed during the refining process. You'll also get selenium, which helps neutralize free radicals that Phase I generates.
10. GARLIC - This aromatic vegetable is truly indispensable. Garlic stimulates the action of the liver and is a great blood cleanser. Garlic is a great source of a natural sulphur compound that is needed for Phase II reactions. I'd like to add that onions, leeks, and shallots are just as great at enhancing detoxification.
11. BRAZIL NUTS, WALNUTS, AND A WHOLE BUNCH OF OTHER NUTS - These protein-packed goodies provide cysteine and methionine, the two most important amino acids involved in Phase II.
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