Detoxification: Do you really need it?

There is lot of  hype about detox now a day but do you know our body is capable enough to detox on daily basis 24 hours X 365 days and for lifetime.

Our body has an innate sense to balance everything if the (Homeostasis) equilibrium is disturbed in any way.  Everything what our body does is for Survival and it counteract or try to repair itself, after any intentional or unintentional damage done by external toxins or pathogens.

There are different ways how our body deal with toxins on daily basis. Detoxification happens through skin, lungs, liver and through Digestive Tract.

The Liver is considered as a detox organ which processes all the toxins coming into the system but in order to do it effectively, it needs all the co factors like vitamins, minerals, amino acids and antioxidants.

The other largest system which acts in combination with liver is digestive system . The heavy metals, toxins or chemicals need a carrier for excretion from the system which is where fibre, resistant starch and gut flora came into picture. They bind it to these harmful toxins and excreted via stool. This whole process require lots of energy and cofactors to work in an efficient manner.

Detoxification happens in three phases, 1, 2 & 3. 

Phase 1 is carried out by enzymes present in liver such as Cytochrome P 450 and  includes oxidation ,reduction and hydrolysation where fat soluble products get converted into water soluble products for easier excretion, forming an intermediate activated compound.  Liver is exposed to  different kind of toxins entering into the system or produced by the body itself such as heavy metals, drugs, alcohol, hormonal metabolites and neurotransmitters metabolites etc.  

Phase 2 includes conjugation of intermediary active compounds via different pathways like sulfation, acetylation, methylation, glutathionation & glucuronidation.  The Phase 2 is highly dependant of nutrients such as B vitamins, minerals and amino acids.

The different kind of toxins are metabolised through different pathways for example estrogen detoxification is highly dependant on glucuronidation and methylation while alcohol detoxification is dependant on Glutathionation. This is the reason people consuming alcohol on daily basis have low glutathione levels because alcohol depletes glutathione levels very fast in order to assist alcohol detoxification  

Glutathione is most abundant in liver and is the primary antioxidant reserve in the body. Glutathione is made up of amino acids like glutamine, glycine and cysteine and required adequate amount of Vitamin C. 

If Glutathione levels deplete, intermediary compound formed in phase 1 increases and if Phase 2 is inhibited due to lack of substrates required for phase 2, the oxidative stress and free radical production increases.    

Why this juice detox, or green smoothies or short term detox fails? Because  they do not provide all nutrients required for complete detoxification. The juices or greens may be rich in antioxidants, B vitamins but devoid of amino acids which are essential of Phase 2 detoxification and Glutathione production.

There are nutrients, foods, chemicals, drugs and toxins which are  phase 1 inducer and phase 2 inhibitors. Cigarette smoke,  alcohol, overcooked meat and few drugs are phase 1 inducer creating more ROS. Overactive Phase 1 activity can be harmful because of intermediary compound formation which are highly reactive and can be carcinogenic. There is no problem in detoxifying these compounds unless this intermediate compounds are neutralised in Phase 2.

Green tea, curcumin, berries, pomegranate, resveratrol, apple , peanuts all are phase 2 inducer along with Vir E, chlorophyllin, alpha lipoic acid. Green vegetables, cilantro, parsley, celery and fibre is required for detoxifying heavy metals.

It’s best to decide what outcome you want of any detoxification program, if your goal is long term health and longevity it is best to include the foods or supplements gradually to your diet to support detoxification pathways and restrict the source of intoxication. It is useless to detoxify and get benefits out of it unless the source of toxins is taken care of.  It is possible to get benefits out of short term detoxification but those effects are not sustainable for very long.

Detoxification Mantra:

Intermittent fasting with well balanced diet, exposure to sun, and physical activity is the mantra to long tern detoxification. Don’t overlook the source of toxins. Try to resolve it. Saunas are of great help for detoxification through skin via sweat. 


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