Detoxification pathways are the route to optimum health.
Some of the most dangerous culprits that inhibit a person’s ability to achieve optimum health also happen to be omnipresent. Environmental toxins are virtually everywhere given their almost global nature; for instance, people don’t think too much about the packaging their food comes in, the contents of their shampoo—or even the air they breathe. Yet, according to a 2010 article in Science, 70 to 90 percent of disease risks likely stem from environmental factors.1
Environmental toxins come in two categories—chemical and metallic.2-4 These accumulate and reside in the body’s fatty tissues, and come from medications, food preservatives, and exposure to pesticides, air pollutants, and other harmful toxins. While these toxins come from a variety of sources, initial exposure to them usually begins while a baby is still in the womb.5
All too common
According to the CDC’s Fourth National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals, more than 212 chemicals have been found to be present in the blood and urine of most Americans.6 The six most widespread chemicals are:
- Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), used as a flame retardant
- Bisphenol A (BPA), found in plastic products (e.g., water bottles)
- Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), found in nonstick cookware
- Acrylamide in items cooked at high temperatures (e.g., french fries, fried chicken, and coffee)
- Mercury, found in seafood
- Methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE), a gasoline additive released in vehicle exhaust7-9
To illustrate, research data suggests there is a strong relationship between urine concentrations of BPA and Type 2 diabetes and reduced testosterone levels.10-11 BPA is also an endocrine disruptor. It binds to receptors on cells used by hormones that regulate physiological functions and thus takes the place of the body’s natural hormones.
The liver functions as the body’s natural detoxification mechanism. It supports the body’s ability to excrete toxins once they have been neutralized, thus reducing the chance they will recirculate and be stored in the body.
Unfortunately, as a result of vast exposure to pervasive toxins, the liver is unable to adequately break down fat-soluble toxins, which is the key to the natural detoxification process.12-14 These toxins need to be converted into water-soluble compounds and then excreted through normal bodily functions.
If the liver is dysfunctional, toxins won’t be broken down and eliminated but rather recirculated, causing secondary tissue damage. Both health and performance are impaired by toxin recirculation.
Pathology of excess toxic burden
Here is a partial list of common symptoms that can indicate toxin overload:
- Fatigue, lethargy, weakness
- Headaches, irritability
- Cognitive problems; e.g., brain fog, memory problems
- Concentration difficulties
- Generalized muscle aches
- Dark circles under eyes
- Digestion, elimination problems
- Muscle and joint pain
Healthy liver detoxification pathways
Metabolic detoxification is a way to normalize the body’s metabolization of xenobiotic and endogenous compounds, while temporarily reducing incoming toxic burden.
Step 1: Toxins that are fat soluble are transported from the intestine to the liver. These can include metabolic end products, chemical pollutants and contaminants, microorganisms, food additives, drugs and medications, and alcohol.15
Step 2: In the liver, toxins undergo Phase 1 detoxification to neutralize certain toxins. Phase 1, called “functionalization,” involves the release of enzymes by the liver that break down xenobiotics and produce harmful free-radicals.16
Step 3: The remainder of the un- neutralized toxins moves into Phase 2 detoxification, which transforms them into water-soluble compounds.17 By the process of conjugation, large molecules join together with modified xenobiotics to produce harmless water-soluble substances.
Step 4: Newly transformed toxins are then transported to either the kidneys, where they are excreted in the urine; or to the gallbladder, where they are eventually excreted via the feces in Phase 3 of detoxification.18-19 Phase 3 relies on the pH scale (acid-to-alkaline ratio). The proper pH level is more alkaline than acid (pH at 7 or above).20
Unhealthy liver detoxification pathways
In an unhealthy liver, toxins cannot be detoxified at the rate they are brought to the liver. Phase 1 occurs too quickly for conversion to Phase 2. In this case, toxins build up and recirculate in the blood, contributing to long-term poor health. These un-neutralized, fat-soluble toxins can be stored in body tissues such as fat, the brain, and the nervous system, causing systemic symptoms.21-22
The chances of a metabolic detoxification program succeeding can be maximized by using well-researched nutrients, vitamins, and herbs to balance and support the body’s detoxification pathways.
The gastrointestinal tract is the first-pass detoxification barrier against large chemical compounds that are foreign to the human body. Your first nutritional recommendation could be two probiotics, specifically B. lactis (Bi-07) and L. acidophilus (NCFM), which have both been documented to help with GI tract stability and health. Additionally, low-allergen-potential nutrients nourish the GI barrier and support the elimination of toxins.23-24
Rice proteins and medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) derived from milk fat, palm oil, and coconut oil boost metabolism. They allow clearance of potential allergens that may be contributing to impaired toxin clearance.
The liver is the next toxin treatment center. Nutrients that help regulate liver processes include L-cysteine, magnesium, glucuronic acid, glycine, glutathione, and sulfate. Antioxidants also support the clearance of reactive intermediary compounds. A comprehensive vitamin profile, including vitamins A, C, and E, and a broad spectrum of B vitamins also help neutralize these compounds.25-26
Three substances that act as bio- functional modulators have the ability to simultaneously influence both Phase 1 and Phase 2 activity in the liver: green tea catechins, ellagic acid, and watercress glucosinolates.27
To achieve Phase 3, the addition of potassium citrate, an effective alkalizing compound, will shift the body’s reserves to become more alkaline.28
A diet to promote optimum health should consist of the abovementioned nutrient supplements and the detox-friendly diet. An appropriate dietary regimen should include green vegetables and most fruits, and eliminate acidifying grains such as corn, wheat, white flour, and grain-fed animal proteins.
Research has indicated that a program as short as 10 days can lead to distinct changes in an individual’s health profile. A 28-day comprehensive detox program is the gold standard for improving the health of individuals with significant symptomatology.
For optimum health, remember to count chemicals not calories.
Robert Silverman, DC, CNS, CCN, CSCS, CKTP, CES, CIISN, DACBN, DCBCN, HKC, SASTM, teaches seminars nationwide and in Canada and has a successful sports injury and sports performance private practice in Westchester County, New York. He can be reached at drrobertsilverman.com, firstname.lastname@example.org or through erchonia.com.
1 Rappaport SM, Smith MT. Environment and disease risks. Science. 2010;330(6003):460-61.
2 Lichtenstein P, et al. Environmental and heritable factors in the causation of cancer. N Engl J Med. 2000;343(2):78-85.
3 Hindorff LA, et al. Potential etiologic and functional implications of genome-wide association loci for human diseases and traits. Proc Natl Acad Sci. 2009;106(23):9362-67.
4 Willett WC. Balancing lifestyle and genomics research for disease prevention. Science. 2000;296(5568):695-98.
5 Environmental Working Group. “A benchmark investigation of industrial chemicals, pollutants and pesticides in umbilical cord blood.” Body Burden: The Pollution in Newborns. http://www.ewg.org/research/body-burden- pollution-newborns. Published July 14, 2005. Accessed November 2014.
6 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Fourth National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals.” http://www.poison.org/current/cdc%20fourth%2 0report%20human%20exposure%20to%20env% 20chemicals.pdf. Published 2009. Accessed November 2014.
7 Environmental Protection Agency. “Polybrominated diphenylethers (PBDEs) Action Plan Summary.” Existing Chemicals. http://www.epa.gov/oppt/existingchemicals/pubs /actionplans/pbde.html. Updated October 30, 2014. Accessed November 2014.
8 Environmental Protection Agency. “Bisphenol A (BPA) Action Plan Summary.” Existing Chemicals. http://www.epa.gov/oppt/existing chemicals/pubs/actionplans/bpa.html. Updated January 29, 2014. Accessed November 2014.
9 vom Saal, et al. Bisphenol A and risk of metabolic disorders. JAMA. 2008;300(11):1353-54.
11 Nakamura D, et al. Bisphenol A may cause testosterone reduction by adversely affecting both testis and pituitary systems similar to estradiol. Toxicol Lett. 2010;194(1-2):16-25.
12 Fujiyoshi TP, et al. Molecular epidemiologic evidence for diabetogenic effects of dioxin exposure in U.S. Air Force veterans of the Vietnam War. Environ Health Perspect. 2006;114(11):1677-83.
13 Liska DJ, Bland JS. Emerging Clinical Science of Bifunctional Support for Detoxification Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients. 2002.
14 Musser W. Mitochondrial inhibitors and neurodegenerative disorders. J Neuropsychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2000;12:280-281.
15 Liska DJ, Bland JS. Emerging clinical science of bifunctional support for detoxification. Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients. 2002.
16 Bland J. (2008). The Disease Delusion: Conquering the Causes of Chronic Illness for a Healthier, Longer, and Happier Life (1st ed., p. 124). HarperWave.
17 Rooney PJ, et al. A short review of the relationship between intestinal permeability and inflammatory joint disease. Clin Exp Rheumatol. 1990;8(1):75-83.
18 Vree TB, et al. Effect of urinary pH on the pharmacokinetics of salicylic acid, with its glycine and glucuronide conjugates in humans. Int J Clin Pharmacol Ther. 1994;32(10):550-8.
19 Zmonarski SC, Klinger M, et al. Therapeutic use of potassium citrate. Przegl Lek. 2001;58(2):82-6.
20 John TJ, Jesudason MV. The first epidemic of Vibrio cholerae O139. Int J Clin Pharmacol Ther. 1994;32(10):550-8.
21 University of Mich. School of Public Health.
22 Meeker J, Ferguson K. Relationship between urinary phthalate and Bisphenol A concentrations and serum thyroid measures in U.S. adults and adolescents from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2007-2008. Environ Health Perspect. 2011;119(10):1396-1402.
23 Asemi A, et al. Effect of daily consumption of probiotic yogurt on oxidative stress in pregnant women. Ann Nutr Med. 2012;60(1):62-28.
24 Ejtahed H, et al. Probiotic yogurt improves antioxidant status in type-2 diabetic patients. Nutrition. 2012;28:539-543.
25 Porter R. (2001). Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy (17th ed., ch. 298). Whitehouse Station, NJ: Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp.
26 Sheweita SA. Drug-metabolizing enzymes: mechanisms and functions. Curr Drug Metab. 2000;1(2):107-32.
27 Brown MD. Green tea (camellia sinensis) extract and its possible role in the prevention of cancer. Altern Med Rev. 1999;4(5):360-70.
28 Pieniazek W, Franczuk P, Janicki K. The comparison of clinical effectiveness of perindopril and acebutolol in the primary hypertension treatment. Przegl Lek. 2001;58(5): 58(2):82-6. Polish.