So you have overindulged over Christmas, made a New Years Resolution to get back on track and it is now February and you are still struggling to get back on the good food wagon. It is at this point many people turn to detox programs or cleanses to lose those unwanted Christmas kilos and feel better. But what if I were to tell you that these so called ‘detox’ programs could actually be making you even more toxic! How could that be!

Read on to learn about the three-phases of detoxification process in your body, which will allow you to safely plan the elimination of toxins without making yourself ill.

Phases of Detoxification

The first phase of detoxification occurs in the liver. The fat-soluble toxins, such as metabolic end products, food additives, alcohol, drugs, contaminants/pollutants, insecticides etc, present in the blood passing through the liver are removed at this stage. Excessive levels of toxins results in an overload and subsequent storage in fat tissue…not something you want!

Once the toxin is filtered it is attached to a vitamin (in particular antioxidants). At this stage the new compound still has the potential to cause oxidative damage in the body if it is not moved into phase 2 detoxification as soon as possible. Supplying the blood with an abundance of vitamins, such as B3, B6, B12, folic acid etc. assists in this process. This is why it is important to consume an array of vegetables to ensure you are supplying your body with the vitamins and minerals it requires to aid phase 1 detoxification.

Source: http://www.lifestylebypoliquin.com/Lifestyle/Nutrition/560/Detoxing_the_Right_Way.aspx

Phase 2 also takes place in the liver. It is during this phase an amino acid or sulfurous compound is added to the new compound formed in phase 1. This results in the creation of a now water-soluble compound and thus easier to eliminate.

Source: http://www.lifestylebypoliquin.com/Lifestyle/Nutrition/560/Detoxing_the_Right_Way.aspx

Phase 3 occurs in the kidneys. The water-soluble compound formed in phase 2 is sent to the kidneys for elimination through the urine or faeces. A healthy gut with plenty of good bacteria is vital to facilitate complete elimination. Inflammation within the gut can lead to the impairment of Phase 2 enzymes, which may cause a build of phase 1 metabolites and subsequent oxidative damage within the body.

 

Source: http://www.lifestylebypoliquin.com/Lifestyle/Nutrition/560/Detoxing_the_Right_Way.aspx

So, why don’t most ‘detox / cleanses’ work?

Many commercial detoxes or cleanses have you eating (or drinking) just fruits and vegetables. Yes, you will probably lose weight and your body would start to burn fat, subsequently releasing toxins into your blood from fat cells. And yes, phase 1 detoxification would occur as per normal with the formation of plenty of phase 1 metabolites. However, this is where things start to go sour…

You have all of these newly formed phase 1 metabolites circulating, but because you are not consuming a source of protein…just fruits and vegetables…your body does not have the amino acids required to neutralize these toxic phase 1 compounds. The result of this is you starting to feel sick. To get rid of these phase 1 metabolites your body sends them back into storage in your fat tissue. Hence, why most cleanses do not work.

Detoxing the right way

What I recommend to my clients if they have overindulged over the Christmas/New Year break and are looking to get things back on track is the following simple steps:

  • Starting the day with lemon and electrolytes in hot water

  • Plenty of fresh, unprocessed, organic vegetables. Lots of greens, especially cruciferous vegetables (eg. Brussels, cabbage, broccoli, kale etc) with a splash of coloured vegetables

  • Good quality, grass fed, organic, lean meat / seafood

  • Plenty of water (0.40mL/kg body weight) with the addition of electrolytes to every litre of water consumed.

What you eat is not the only way you can assist the detoxification process. Paying attention to what you put on your skin (aluminum in deodorant, parabens and sulphites in soaps, body wash, lotions and creams) and what you breathe in (chlorine, perfumes and other environmental pollutants) is also important.

Put these few simple steps into action and I am sure you will be feeling 100% in next to no time!

References

Lifestyle by Poliquin: http://www.lifestylebypoliquin.com/Lifestyle/Nutrition/560/Detoxing_the_Right_Way.aspx

Phytonutrients & Detoxification (By Dr. Mark Percival) – Clinical Nutrition Insights

http://balancedconcepts.net/liver_phases_detox_paths.pdf