Several previous newsletters have addressed my contention that toxins are the 21st century’s number one global health concern (Plastic, Coffee, Cancer, Toxins). Once ingested, toxins enter the blood stream and go directly to the liver, which filters over 300 gallons of blood daily. If the liver malfunctions, autointoxication occurs; poisoning the whole body and leading to myriad disease manifestations.
Symptoms of a malfunctioning liver include over sensitivity to perfume, caffeine, alcohol, strong odors and medications including acetaminophen. Other symptoms include a metallic taste in the mouth, frequent headaches, nausea, upper right abdominal pain, intolerance to fatty foods, itchy skin, unexplained flu like symptoms, fatigue, fibromyalgia, agitation, fluctuating moods, light headedness, impaired memory and difficulty concentrating. This list is incomplete because the array of symptoms which result from a body poisoned by an ineffectual liver is quite lengthy.
The liver is responsible to capture and denature toxic compounds, then eliminate them via bile and urine. This activity involves a two stage process called Phase I and Phase II. When this process is compromised toxins lodge throughout the body, often in fat cells found in the brain and hormonal tissue to remain for years or a lifetime. Toxic storage of herbicides, pesticides, organophosphates and organochlorides including DDT can result in brain injury, infertility, adrenal exhaustion and a variety of cancers. Estimates suggest that 90% of cancers are linked to environmental toxins, making liver health a priority when it comes to reduction of cancer risk.
The purpose of Phase I is to dissolve toxic compounds into smaller fragments in preparation for the elimination action of Phase II. These small Phase I fragments are highly toxic compounds, often more so than in their original form. Antioxidants such as vitamins C, E and D are essential to help squelch their damaging free radical activity. When Phase I is not working well, or an excess of Phase I metabolites occur due to a sluggish Phase II, then symptoms of toxicity will begin to show.
Phase I liver compromise may show with over sensitivity or a negative reaction to caffeine, alcohol, saturated fats, paint fumes, exhaust fumes, barbiturates and other drugs. Organic tangerines and oranges are good for Phase I, but not grapefruit: eight ounces of grapefruit juice can inhibit enzymatic functions of Phase I detoxification by 30%. Phase I activity slows with age, lack of physical activity and poor nutrition.
Nutrients to support Phase I include vitamins A, C, D3, E and several B vitamins: all found in a variety of health promoting organic foods. A good whole food multiple such as Innate Formulas BioMax (see website newsletter Supplements) offers an excellent compliment to a healthy diet rich in these nutrients. The herb milkthistle which protects liver cells and increases glutathione, the quintessential whole body detoxifier, plus bioflavanoids such as querecetin found in dark colored fruits, berries, onions and green leafy vegetables are ways to assist Phase I activity.
Symptoms and conditions related to Phase II malfunction include elevated cortisol levels and related insomnia, allergy and blood sugar issues, synthetic sugar sensitivity, neurotransmitter and steroid/hormone imbalance.
Phase II involves the addition of nutrients such as amino acids to Phase I toxic metabolites. This combining, called conjugation, reduces the toxicity of Phase I metabolites, and creates water soluble compounds ready for excretion in bile and urine.
Sulphur rich cruciferous vegetables are the preeminent foods to support Phase II action, along with good quality protein for the necessary supply of amino acids. Other excellent liver support foods include beets, radish, artichoke, watercress, garlic and onions. Phase II supplemental considerations include L-carnitine, taurine, MSM, N-acetyl cysteine, liposomal glutathione, acetylated glutathione and calcium d-glucarate.
Once toxins sequestered in bile enter the intestines it is vital to have sufficient fiber from organic vegetables and fruit to finish the process of elimination and prevent re-uptake of toxins back into the bloodstream. Ensuring a healthy intestinal track by eating good quality food and supplying good bacteria (see Probiotic, Kefir and IBS newsletters) is important to reduce toxic byproducts which further hamper liver function.
These tips to help the liver will also ensure a healthy gallbladder whose function is to store and release bile at appropriate times. Thus an inflamed gallbladder is best treated by taking care of the liver.
In summary, to prevent or reduce a hangover and other toxic related concerns, support of Phase I and Phase II liver detoxification pathways is essential. Especially indicated for that hangover; milkthistle, vitamin C and one of the two forms of glutathione mentioned will work wonders.
I hope you have enjoyed this month’s news letter. As always, comments and feedback are welcome.
Jon Dunn, ND