Is detoxification a myth?

Dr. Carel-Piet van Eeden
September 6, 2022

The myth of the detoxification is actually legendary!

Battle lines have been drawn between people on the concept of detoxification.  Many call it a money-making scheme to produce expensive urine.  On the other extreme, we find those preaching water fasts for weeks to help cleanse the body.  

So, let’s look at what detoxification really means.  Let’s see why we need to help the body to detoxify.  Also, let us look at how our genetics play a role in the detoxification process.  

Lastly, let’s look at some ways that we can detoxify and survive in a world where environmental toxicity is rife.

How does the liver detoxify - getting clarity on this weirdly shaped organ

The liver is a fascinating organ that uses an intricate system of pathways to get rid of toxins in the body.  These pathways can be broken up into two main phases.  Time to put on our biology coats - we are entering deep into the world of physiology!

Phase 1 detoxification

The liver receives blood through the portal vein and then adds a water molecule to the toxin and passes it onto the second phase of detoxification.  This is known as hydroxylation

Phase 2 detoxification

Phase 2 detoxification takes the toxin with the water molecule and passes it through one of six pathways before dumping it into the bile for excretion.  

These pathways are:

  • Glutathione conjugation
  • Amino acid conjugation
  • Methylation
  • Sulfation
  • Acetylation
  • Glucuronidation

Each of these pathways requires a specific number of nutrients to function properly.

Why should I detoxify?  Shouldn’t the body be able to do it without help?

Environmental toxicity

The good old days when the air was clean, and we weren’t bombarded with all kinds of untested chemicals and frequencies.  Environmental toxicity wasn’t a thing that we really knew about, nor cared about.  

Today we are much more aware of the effect that our environment has on us and the strain that it puts on our bodies in order to remain healthy.

An apple ain’t an apple anymore - our soil doesn’t contain the minerals that it used to.

Over farming of lands means that many times we get only a small amount of the nutrients that were in the same crops years ago.  The result of this is that, even if we eat organic food, we are severely depleted in many nutrients that are needed to pass the toxins through their respective pathways.

Getting to the nitty-gritty and looking at how genetics influence detoxification

The innumerable genetic variations in humans make us each unique.  Eye colour and hair colour are two very visible forms of variation - that is compounded by those of us colouring our hair!  

Other variations give us a predisposition to disease states.  Yet others have an influence on our ability to detoxify.

Think of it as a highway with six lanes.  For some of us, there are permanent roadworks on one or two of these lanes.  The result is congestion, which is never a good thing!

Many times, we cannot open up the blocked lanes, yet there are ways of widening the other lanes to make sure that we ease the load and allow for happier commuters on their way out of the body.

What can I do to aid in the detox process?

What type of detox will work for me?

There are several ways one can approach detoxification and support the liver.  This depends on what you want to achieve.  

It is also important to remember that the detox effects will be different from person to person.

Three ways to aid the body in detoxification

Far infrared sauna

Far infrared sauna has shown to help the body eliminate toxins through the skin by helping the body to sweat more.  Some studies also indicate that the use of far infrared sauna helps with getting rid of heavy metals.

Intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting is more than just a passing fad.  By going through stages of fasting, one can help your body detoxify better.

food helps with detoxification

Food can help the body to detoxify

One of the easiest ways to aid in detoxification is to include foods that aid the body to detoxify

Ten foods to help with detoxification

  • Broccoli
  • Cruciferous vegetables
  • Garlic
  • Rosemary
  • Asparagus
  • Walnuts
  • Green tea
  • Mushrooms
  • Almonds
  • Leafy greens

Are there supplements to help me detoxify?

There are many supplements that help us to detoxify.  Each person will react differently to the supplements as we have seen above.  Our genetic makeup, toxicity levels, and current health all play a role in how we will react to supplements.

5 supplements that aid the detox process

There are many supplements that can aid the detoxification process.  Here are 5 of the more prominent ones.

  • Indole-3-carbinol (I3C)
  • Glutathione (in a form that is easily absorbed, such as S-Acetyl Glutathione)
  • N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC)
  • Milk thistle extract
  • Artichoke extract

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