Do we really need to detox? Our bodies are bombarded with toxins every day – from our everyday products to the pollution in the air. So how do our bodies cope with this onslaught? (Spoiler alert: sometimes they don’t!).
Our detox organs – liver, kidneys, lungs, gut and skin – work overtime to rid our bodies of these numerous toxins. And these days, they need to work harder and harder, because of the increasing number of toxins in our environment.
But what is the consequence of all this excessive detoxification our bodies are doing? Well, there is less capacity for these organs to complete the other jobs they need to do. For example, our liver detoxifies chemicals and sends them to our large intestine for excretion. If the liver is overloaded with chemicals, the hormones it also needs to break down, are left waiting in the queue. If the liver never gets to the back of the queue, the hormones just recirculate in the blood – causing symptoms. If the liver is always overworked (and perhaps not getting the nutrients it needs to work optimally), these hormones can build up and cause ongoing, unwanted symptoms – think, PMS, sore boobs and mood swings!
Here are 5 simple things you can do to make sure your liver is working at its best. That way, your body can detoxify chemicals, but also process your hormones effectively too!
There are three phases of liver detoxification and if one is sluggish, that can hold up the whole system. So let’s get all three working well together, and boost our other detox organs too.
Modulate Phase 1 of liver detox
Is it working too fast or too slow? Phase 1 can sometimes work too fast – resulting in many free radicals unable to pass into Phase 2 and causing damage in the body. If this is the case, turmeric (1tsp a day or use a supplement) helps to lower Phase 1 so Phase 2 can keep up!
In other people, Phase 1 can be under active, manifesting as intolerance to perfumes, caffeine and other chemicals. Bitter and cruciferous vegetables will help to stimulate.
Stimulate Phase 2 of liver detox
Phase 2 is often more sluggish than Phase 1 and needs many different nutrient cofactors for all the different conjugation functions. Two essential groups of nutrients are amino acids and B vitamins – and both groups are found in protein. Protein is in meat, wholegrains, legumes, nuts and seeds.
Ensure toxins leave the body with Phase 3 Detoxification
Stimulate bile production, as bile carries toxins out through the intestines. Bile can be increased by eating bitter vegetables, such as rocket, radish, watercress, endive and radicchio. If you have trouble breaking down fats in your diet (maybe your gut reacts to fatty foods?) – you may also need more bile. Fibre absorbs bile in the large intestine, along with the toxins it carries. So, adequate fibre in the diet is essential for eliminating toxins!
Help your skin and lymph system to detoxify for you too
This will take pressure off the liver! Try dry brushing your skin, starting from the feet and working your way up, always moving towards the heart. This light brushing will stimulate your lymphatic system, which works alongside your blood to carry toxins out of your body.
Drink enough water to help all your body systems, including detox organs, work at their best
Water is essential for cleansing the liver, kidneys, gut and skin. If you don’t drink enough water, you are constantly inhibiting your body’s detoxification processes. The rule of thumb with water consumption is 35mL per 1kg of body weight. So if you weigh 60kg, you need just over 2L / day and if you weight 85kg, you need about 3L / day. Remember to drink more if you are exercising, if it’s very hot and especially if you’re breastfeeding.
There are many specific nutrients – far more than mentioned here – for all the different phases of detoxification. Without the right nutrients, your body may be unable to process certain chemicals or foods, causing unwanted symptoms. Seeing a qualified nutritionist and discussing your specific symptoms, can help get you on the right path for you. In the mean time, enjoy a balanced diet and drink plenty of water, and you will help boost your body’s detox each and every day.
Kate Gray is a Clinical Nutritionist at Hornsby Health Space. She is known in the Hornsby community to be passionate about helping people and has personalised approach to dietary and lifestyle advice.