Behaviour, Digestion, Diets | September 21, 2016 | Author: naturopath
If your feeling sluggish and fatigued from the winter months and would like to put a spring back in your step then read on. Detoxification is a natural process by which environmental and dietary toxins are changed into less harmful substances and then eliminated from the body. Effective detoxification occurs when the key elimination channels such the kidney, liver and colon are working efficiently. This article will outline why there is a need for most people to detoxify their bodies and what nutrients, foods and herbs are effective to help promote these processes in a safe way.
Detoxification can be an effective way to improve your overall wellbeing, increase energy and reduce digestive complaints such as bad breath, bloating and constipation. A toxin is a substance that interferes with cellular function and ultimately affects our short and long term health.
It is recommended that during detoxing you reduce your toxic burden by limiting or avoiding dietary and environmental toxins. There are many environmental toxins which people can be exposed to on a daily basis and these can include:
Dietary toxins can be present in:
Toxins can also be created as part of normal internal metabolic processes and by bacteria in the digestive tract. Toxin elimination can also be prevented if the bowels are sluggish and this allows recirculation of toxins from waste in the bowel back into the bloodstream.
It is common in the modern world to have low-level exposure to multiple toxins and by consuming a typical western diet it reduces the body’s ability to process and eliminate these toxins in a safe and efficient manner. The aim of a detox is to improve the function of the digestive system, focussing on the liver, kidneys and bowels as waste products are eliminated via these organs. It is also important to neutralize reactive toxins by including antioxidant support.
St mary’s thistle (Silybum marianum) has been traditionally used for liver support by acting as an antioxidant and supporting all phases of liver detoxification. Silymarin, one of the active constituents of st mary’s thistle has been found in studies to have significant antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity, whilst also increasing the cellular component of glutathione (a potent antioxidant).
Other herbs indicated for liver toxicity include: schizandra, dandelion root, andrographis and dandelion root. You may see some of these listed in detox products.
There is evidence that green tea catechins play a role in protecting against various liver diseases such as cirrhosis and fatty liver by not only acting as antioxidants but by inhibiting pro-oxidant enzymes while inducing antioxidant enzymes.
A study found that drinking green tea five times daily for three weeks significantly reduced oxidative stress in red blood cells.
Green tea is also a diuretic which helps to improve kidney function.
Glutamine is the most abundant extracellular amino acid, with a number of roles, including antioxidant, immune-modulatory and gastrointestinal mucosal-protective actions. Glutamine is a major substrate for the production of energy in enterocytes which are epithelial cells found in the small intestine. Along with the amino acids glycine, taurine and cysteine, glutamine is also an integral part of phase II detoxification through amino acid conjugation, and the production of glutathione.
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If there is suspected parasitic involvement or dysbiosis in the gut these herbs can be helpful. Look for these ingredients in products - garlic, andrographis, chinese wormwood, barberry, thyme and oregano. Include garlic and herbs in your diet for continued support.
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If constipation is a factor contributing to poor digestive health and fatigue, implementing additional fibre should be considered. As well as maintaining adequate sources of dietary fibre such as wholegrains, vegetables and fruit, consider taking psyllium husks or slippery elm to assist the detoxification process.
If there is bloating or upper digestive system issues, herbs that act as digestive tonics may also be helpful. These include: ginger, chamomile, gentian, dandelion root and andrographis.
Probiotics and synbiotics (a combination of probiotics and prebiotics) are an important supplement to take during detoxing to repopulate and balance healthy intestinal microflora.
A recent study found that some probiotic and synbiotics improved liver function, reduced body mass index and fat mass in obese individuals, decreased insulin resistance, plasma lipid levels, metabolic stress, while improving antioxidant status and carbohydrate metabolism.
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A detoxification program is not suitable during pregnancy or for people with certain medical conditions or taking some medications. Occasionally side effects can occur and these include headaches, fatigue, nausea and changes in bowel function.
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Surai PF. Silymarin as a natural antioxidant: An overview of the current evidence and perspectives. Antioxidants (Basel). 2015 Mar 20:4(1):204-47
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Saez-Lara MJ et al Effects of Probiotics and Synbiotics on Obesity, Insulin Resistance Syndrome, Type 2 Diabetes and Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease: A Review of Human Clinical Trials. Int J Mol Sci. 2016 Jun 13;17(6)