Detox: Is it just a trend?
In our world today, we are exposed to toxins on the daily in the form of chemical pollutants from plastics, pesticides, solvents, heavy metals, household products, makeup, and many other products. These make their way into the air, soil, food, water supply, and are inevitably absorbed by our bodies.
The body is well designed to deal with toxic insults, but the sheer volume of our exposure now, combined with poor diet and lifestyle can lead to an overburdened body and under functioning detoxification processes. This can allow toxins to accumulate in our tissues. One person may be able to tolerate more toxic load than another, but eventually the body will lose equilibrium, resulting in various disease processes.
Detoxification is the process of getting these toxins out of the body before they can do any damage.
Our bodies detox processes are working whether we are on a "detox" or not.
However, if your body is overburdened, these processes may not be running efficiently. Some people have genetic differences or lifestyle factors such as diet and medications that can cause one stage to either speed up or slow down. Certain diets can also effect our detox processes - each phase requires certain vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other nutrients to run effectively. If these stages are not running in sync, it can pave the way for disease processes.
Signs and Symptoms of Overburdened Detox Pathways
For some people, it may be obvious they are operating with a high toxic load, and for some, it may be more subtle. Common signs may include (but are not limited to):
Immune system: changes in the body’s immune system, such as increased susceptibility to colds and flus, or autoimmune disease.
Gastrointestinal system: digestive disturbances including diarrhea, constipation, irritable bowel, unexplained nausea.
Cognitive: depression, anxiety, brain fog, lack of concentration, fatigue, insomnia.
Systemic: allergies, chemical sensitivities, recurrent infections and skin rashes, infertility, achy pains and joints.
If you're curious about the mechanisms behind how our body gets rid of toxins, read on.
Organs of Elimination
Our liver is our prime toxin neutralizer, but we also need to support our organs of elimination. In many of us, one or more of these organ systems are not functioning optimally. This means the products produced by the liver to be excreted, are not, and are instead reabsorbed and recirculated throughout the body.
Our organs of elimination are not only our liver, bowels and kidneys, but also our skin, lungs, and lymph systems. In many people, these are not functioning efficiently and will require extra support and repair. In addition, toxins may accumulate in the extracellular matrix – another area that may need support.
Three stages of detox in the Liver
Your body is an effective detox machine. Our liver is the functional organ which takes toxins and turns them into a form that is more able to be excreted. There are three stages of detoxification in the liver.
Biotransformation Fat-soluble toxins are converted to water soluble forms. In many cases, these are more toxic than the original form.
Conjugation The highly toxic substances produced in Phase I are converted to non-toxic molecules and become even more water-soluble and ready for elimination.
Elimination Water-soluble toxins leave cells, and the body eliminates them.
If these stages are not in sync, it could cause issues. For example, if stage II is under-functioning, we may have a build up in toxic substrates from stage I with no way to convert them, which can actually damage the liver. If stage III is under-functioning, nothing is being eliminated, meaning toxins will be reabsorbed and recirculated throughout the body.
A good detox program will take all of this into account, and be able to provide the right food, nutrients, and molecules that support your body’s own natural detoxification systems to ensure they are working smoothly, in sync, and at the speed you need.
It's all about balance.
We’ve all seen the articles or ads promoting the next great miracle detox or cleanse. There are lots of products and programs out there, each with their own claims. This has led many to think that detox is just a scam or a fad, which is not the whole truth. “Detox” is a trendy term and can mean different things to different people. To some, it might be sitting in the sauna, drinking herbal teas, or doing a juice fast. To me, it means to assisting the body with the onslaught of toxic chemical exposures in a safe, individualized, effective way. While working with patients, my goals are to reduce the body’s toxic load, adress toxin storage in the body and extracellular matrix, and optimize metabolic processes so you feel better in the short and long term.
I do this by building a strong foundation for the body to run, targeting specific pathways via nutrition and lifestyle practices, custom treatment plans, as well as targeted supplements. All with supervision and guidance to ensure max efficacy.
So, is detox just a trend? Not exactly.
In the highly toxic environment in which most of us live, our body may need extra support with its natural detoxification processes. In fact, it is essential not just to do a metabolic detox or a cleanse as a one-off, but to adopt a detoxifying lifestyle that provides a defense against the toxins to which you will be inevitably exposed.
click here to begin your personalized detoxification protocol.