Most of us realise in today’s environmental climate that we are all bombarded with many pollutants, ranging from chemicals in our food chain, alcohol, drugs, over the counter medications and prescription medications, chemicals in our cleaning and body care products as well as in our houses and cars, and also our own hormones if they are out of balance (e.g. an excess of estrogen in some women). How do our bodies deal with this onslaught of pollutants? Well, the main way we deal with this, is due to the work of our wonderful liver! As well as detoxifying, the liver also stores some vitamins and minerals, produces cholesterol and blood clotting factors, destroys old blood cells and regulates blood sugar levels by storing and releasing glycogen.
The Two-Phase System
The liver deals with all the above toxins via two mechanisms, Phase 1 and Phase 2 detoxification pathways. Some toxins, like caffeine, are easily dealt with in the Phase 1 stage and are excreted via the urine. Other pollutants, let’s say panadol for example, are fat soluble and need to be conjugated or bound to something else like glycine (an amino acid) before they can be passed onto the Phase 2 stage where they are made water soluble and turned into bile to be excreted via the faeces. Most toxins go through both Phase 1 and Phase 2 pathways before being excreted from the body.
So this all sounds fine but what can go wrong? Well if the liver is confronted with too many pollutants and toxins, then the Phase 1 pathway will be overloaded and lacking the enzymes needed to pass on the more heavy duty toxins to the Phase 2 pathway. This person would be known as a pathological detoxifier and tend to not tolerate caffeine and be sensitive to perfumes and other chemicals.
Symptoms To Be Aware Of
If this is the case and your liver is not doing its job properly, then you might have some of the following symptoms:
2. Digestive issues including bloating, gas and heartburn.
3. Skin problems, rosacea, acne, itchy skin, rashes etc.
4. Moodiness, anxiety or depression.
6. Dark urine and very light coloured stools.
7. Poor appetite.
8. Yellowish skin and/or whites of the eyes.
A lot of people fall into this category because of the constant amount of toxins we have to deal with. So, they will need to slow down Phase 1 detoxification and stimulate Phase 2 so their livers can do their job more effectively.
Foods & Supplements That Will Help To Slow Down Phase 1 Pathway
1. Grapefruit (containing naringin) – start the day with a glass of the juice watered down 50/50. Don’t take grapefruit juice regularly if you already have a slow Phase 1 pathway as it will slow it down more.
2. Quercetin – this is a bioflavonoid found in the pith of foods like citrus, capsicum etc. It can be taken as a supplement and also aids in allergies like hay fever and sinus.
3. Turmeric or Curcumin. Either grate fresh turmeric and cook in coconut oil with black pepper to activate it or take 1/2 – 1 tsp powder a day added to food, or take as a supplement as curcumin which is the active ingredient.
3. Chilli peppers – add small amounts to soups and casseroles.
4. Cruciferous vegetables, i.e. broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale and brussel sprouts.
5. Sesame seeds and sesame oil. Make sure both are fresh.
6. All red berries like organic raspberries and strawberries.
7. St. Mary’s Thistle, Schizandra and Dandelion herbs. Take as supplements, herbal tinctures or teas.
Foods & Supplements That Stimulate Phase 2
1. Cruciferous vegetables.
2. Turmeric and Curcumin.
3. Glutamine as a supplement.
4. Onions and garlic, include often in cooking etc.
5. Green tea, drink one to three cups a day.
6. Cysteine, Methionine and Glutamine, proteins found in eggs, fish and dairy and also in cruciferous vegetables.
7. Organic strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, pomegranates, cranberries, walnuts and pecans are high in a phenolic compound called Ellagic Acid. Include these in smoothies and salads.
8. Nutrients that are necessary for Phase 2 detoxification are B vitamins, selenium, zinc, magnesium and copper.
Things To Avoid To Help With Liver Detoxification Generally:
1. Cigarettes, alcohol, prescription and non-prescription drugs as much as possible.
2. Transfats in takeaway and processed foods.
3. Dairy products, especially cream, chocolate, cheese, milk, and ice-cream.
4. Processed and char-grilled meats.
5. Deep fried and fatty foods.
6. All polyunsaturated vegetable oils.
7. Paint fumes, perfumes, pesticides and all chemicals.
Our livers play a big role in keeping our bodies healthy, especially by detoxing pollutants that we somehow seem to be living with today. If you suspect your liver may not be doing its job properly or you would like more information on how your Phase 1 and Phase 2 pathways are doing, see your health practitioner as there is a simple liver function test available.
Suzanne Staples ND DBM
Naturopath Herbalist Homeopath
Copyright Suzanne Staples