Detox is touted as something we should do once a year, or used as a quick cleanse or weight-loss strategy, only to fade away come early march. Most people often don't even really know what detoxification is about, and in this article, we're going to explain what detox really is, and how and when we should do it.


What does our Liver Actually do?


Our liver is actually our body's primary filtration system, or in more relatable terms, out detoxification system. It filters our blood from unwanted waste products, heavy metals and environmental toxins. It has multiple pathways that activate and deactivate medications, hormones and various antioxidant molecules, some of which protect us from the very toxins we consume.

When our livers filtration system becomes burdened or doesn't function as well, other system become impacted. Our digestion system may slow, and our kidneys may feel more of the strain. As a result, health conditions such as indigestion, fatigue, constipation, lowered fatty acid tolerance, hormonal imbalances and weight gain (Fabbrini, Sullivan, & Klein, 2009) may arise.


What Detox Really Is

Detox is essentially looking after our Liver's primary detoxification pathways known as Phase l and Phase ll detoxification.

Phase l 

Contains enzymes known as cytochrome P450, or CYP450 for short. We need these enzymes to protect us from the toxins we consume. This is done through the conversion of larger molecules into smaller ones, allowing us to either shuttle it out of the body, or prepare it for the next stage of detoxification.

Phase ll 

Also known as the "conjugation" stage, which is broken up into six different pathways involved in excreting toxins and other substances out via our urine, bile and digestive tract. This phase can often be a problem, as certain enzymatic pathways involved in processing particular compounds become sluggish, which can lead to a range of symptoms (Fenton, Armour, & Thirsk, 2015).


When & How Should We Detox?

Generally, we should be looking after these detoxification pathways all year round, and a good way to do this is incorporating foods into your diet that support these pathways.

Keeping our diet well-balanced is the first, and probably most essential strategy for keeping our liver in shape. We also need to ensure we're exercising regularly, staying well hydrated, not over-indulging too much and sleeping well.

Some foods, nutrients and key herbs that could consist in our liver health include:
 

Cruciferous vegetables

Foods such as borrcoli, cabbage, bok choy and cauliflower are all well-known green leafy veggies shown to support the health of your liver (Guan & He, 2015).

Silybum marianum (Milk Thistle)

Studied extensively for it's regenerating properties on the liver, with countless studies highlighting it's profound benefits in supporting our liver function (Abenavoli et al., 2018). Always look for formula's that include this ingredient, such as Fusion Liver Tonic or Herbs of Gold Liver Care.

Curcuma longa (Turmeric)

Although well known for it's potent anti-inflammatory effects, Curcumin also supports both our Phase l and Phase ll detoxification pathways (Farzaei et al., 2018). Fusion do an amazing Curcumin Advanced formula, which doubles as a potent joint support option.

B Vitamins

B Vitamins act as cofactors, or molecules that assist in proper functioning of the enzymes required for phase ll detoxification. If we don't have these, some particular pathways don't work too well, so it's essential to include these in our diet (Li, Cordero, Nguyen, & Oben, 2016). For a quick boost, Thompsons B Complex is a great and affordable option to start here.


The Takeaway Message

Although there are many nutrients out there to support our liver in times of need, it's important to look after it all year round. Eating a well-balanced diet with minimal processed and sugar-laden foods, exercising regularly and staying hydrated is the best strategy towards a healthy functioning liver. This results in less fatigue, more energy and greatly improves our chance to lose those extra kilos.

Written by
Stephen Brumwell | Clinical Nutritionist


References
  • Abenavoli, L., Izzo, A. A., Milić, N., Cicala, C., Santini, A., & Capasso, R. (2018). Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum): A concise overview on its chemistry, pharmacological, and nutraceutical uses in liver diseases. Phytotherapy Research, 32(11), 2202-2213. doi:10.1002/ptr.6171
  • Fabbrini, E., Sullivan, S., & Klein, S. (2009). Obesity and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: Biochemical, metabolic, and clinical implications. Hepatology, 51(2), 679-689. doi:10.1002/hep.23280
  • Farzaei, M., Zobeiri, M., Parvizi, F., El-Senduny, F., Marmouzi, I., Coy-Barrera, E., … Abdollahi, M. (2018). Curcumin in liver diseases: A systematic review of the cellular mechanisms of oxidative stress and clinical perspective. Nutrients, 10(7), 855. doi:10.3390/nu10070855
  • Fenton, T. R., Armour, B., & Thirsk, J. (2015). Comment on “Modulation of metabolic detoxification pathways using foods and food-derived components: A scientific review with clinical application”. Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, 2015, 1-2. doi:10.1155/2015/934070
  • Guan, Y., & He, Q. (2015). Plants consumption and liver health. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2015, 1-10. doi:10.1155/2015/824185
  • Li, J., Cordero, P., Nguyen, V., & Oben, J. A. (2016). The role of vitamins in the pathogenesis of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Integrative Medicine Insights, 11, IMI.S31451. doi:10.4137/imi.s31451