What does your LIVER do for you?
What do YOU do for your LIVER?
Nutritional Therapy Association:
Liver and Biliary Health
The liver has over 500 known functions. It is involved with digestion, the endocrine system, controlling blood sugar, and protein and fat metabolism.
Chemical exposure in this part of the 20th century is unprecedented in history.
The average American consumes 10 pounds of chemical food additives each year. Add to that the chemical burden caused by food sprayed with pesticides and from air and water pollution, you can see that our
chemical burden is considerable.
The body has systems designed to eliminate waste and to detoxify poisons. The liver chemically converts toxins to be easily eliminated by the kidneys.
Detoxification is an ongoing process. The sheer volume of chemicals in the environment and in the diet has caused many people to
reach their threshold of tolerance, which has adversely affected their health.
When the body is burdened with more chemicals than it can efficiently detoxify, chronic health problems can occur. Problems like allergies, skin problems, digestive problems, headaches, fatigue, joint pain and a variety of ailments can be caused by chemical exposure.
Theron Randolph, MD, and early researcher of chronic allergies, was convinced that the increased incidence of allergies and other chronic health problems in the latter half of the 20th century is due to the amount of chemicals we are exposed to on a day‐to‐day basis0
What is Phase One and Phase Two Detoxification involve?
Pre-rinse to Wash cycle to Drainage cycle.
To support liver detoxification, it’s important to provide your body with the necessary nutrients for both phase one and phase two detoxification processes. Here are some key nutrients involved in each phase:
Phase One Detoxification:
- B Vitamins: B vitamins, including B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B6 (pyridoxine), folate, and B12, are essential for the enzymatic reactions involved in phase one detoxification.
- Antioxidants: Antioxidants such as vitamins A, C, and E, as well as selenium and zinc, help neutralize free radicals produced during phase one detoxification, reducing their potential damage.
- Flavonoids: Flavonoids, found in various fruits, vegetables, and herbs, support phase one detoxification by assisting enzymes in breaking down toxins. Examples include quercetin, catechins, and citrus flavonoids.
- Magnesium: Magnesium is a cofactor for many enzymes involved in phase one detoxification reactions.
Phase Two Detoxification:
- Amino Acids: Several amino acids are essential for phase two detoxification pathways. These include glycine, glutamine, cysteine, and taurine.
- Glutathione Precursors: Glutathione is a potent antioxidant and a crucial component of phase two detoxification. Nutrients that support glutathione synthesis include N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC), alpha-lipoic acid (ALA), and milk thistle.
- Methylation Support: Nutrients involved in methylation processes, such as folate, B12, and betaine (trimethylglycine), are important for phase two detoxification.
- Sulforaphane: Sulforaphane, found in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and Brussels sprouts, supports phase two detoxification by inducing enzymes involved in the detoxification process.
- Sulfur: Sulfur-containing compounds like MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) and cruciferous vegetables provide the necessary building blocks for phase two detoxification reactions.
Our detoxication system is so overburdened! Here are just a few things that burden it…
- High blood sugar levels
- Low-fat diets
- Plastics, food additives, and other manmade materials
- Poor digestion
- Poor sleep
- Lack of exercise
- Poor quality homecare and make up products
Just to name a few!
WE CAN SUPPORT OUR DETOXIFICATION PROCESS NATURALLY!
Just like you can support healthy digestion, healthy metabolism, and healthy sleep, you can support healthy detoxification! What are some of the ways you can do this?
Clean up your skincare, makeup, and household products
One of the most common ways that women add in extra toxins that burden their detoxification is with the products they use daily. Conventional makeup and skincare are loaded with dyes, heavy metals, and toxins that burden our system. That why I love being a part of Beautycounter so much! Beautycounter is safer skincare and makeup that leaves out the junk that burdens your detox pathways and is still high performing. I’ve loved switching over the beautycounter!
Regulate your blood sugar & support your liver function
Support your digestion & colon health
Elimination is one of the biggest ways we detox! Support healthy digestion for better detox and colon health.
Drink enough water!
Again, another huge way that we detox.
Moving our lymph and sweating is another great way to detox.
Eat naturally detoxifying foods
Certain foods do help support the detox process, and this carrot slaw is packed with them!
Some more foods that support natural detox include…
- High fiber foods (kale, brussels sprouts, etc.. anything that supports colon health!)
- Bitter and sour foods (think apple cider vinegar, lemon, arugula, etc.)
- Fermented foods
- Beets (more on that below!)
- Healthy fats (avocado, olive oil, coconut oil, etc.)
Examine potential heavy metal exposure.
Way more people deal with this than they realize… myself included. You can read about my journey with mercury detox here.
Work 1:1 with a doctor.
This is SO important if you have long-standing detox and health issues. Everything listed here is generally good advice, but working one on one with a doctor to determine exactly what your detox pathways are doing is the only way to really address this effectively. I have a blog post on finding a good doctor here.
Are your drainage pathways open?
” Let’s take a look at functional medicine expert Dr. Jay Davidson’s recommendations for maintaining open and flowing drainage pathways, starting at the end of the chain with our kidneys and working our way back to our brain glymphatic drainage system.
- Proper hydration
- Maintaining proper hydration is essential to supporting the kidneys. Dr. Jay recommends drinking half your body weight in ounces of filtered, spring or mineral water every single day.
Limit your protein consumption
- Excessive intake of protein overworks the kidneys. Protein consumption should be no more than 0.8 grams/pound of body weight.ColonColon hydrationKeep your colon hydrated and lubricated by including lots of unprocessed, whole foods in your diet.Eat mindfully and chew thoroughlyEat mindfully and chew thoroughly to enhance the production and function of your digestive enzymes.Eat fermented foodsEat fermented foods to increase and diversify the bacteria in your microbiome.Try eating a variety of living foods like apple cider vinegar, yogurt, kombucha and sauerkraut to inoculate your gut with live, active cultures.Eat lots of fiberBe sure to eat lots of fiber! Fiber-rich foods like oats, flax seeds, hemp hearts and chia seeds feed desirable bacteria and promote motility of the colon.Liver and GallbladderCoffee enemasTone the liver and stimulate production of bile with coffee enemas.The hemorrhoidal veins in the colon are directly linked to the hepatic portal vein system of the liver.Coffee contains caffeine and choleretics which strengthen the liver and encourage flow of bile.Herbal supplementsUse herbal supplements.Milk thistle, dandelion and beetroot powder are great for supporting the liver and gallbladder.Lymphatic SystemExerciseExercise is wonderful for encouraging the flow of lymph.Walking is helpful because it stimulates many large lymph nodes.Yoga, stretching, tai chi and qigong also encourage movement of lymph.Get a massageGet a massage.Massage therapy supports detoxification and elimination.Craniosacral massage and lymphatic drainage massage are techniques specifically intended to encourage release of toxins through our drainage pathways.Use a saunaUse a sauna.Sweating in a sauna encourages toxins that have collected in the lymphatic system to be released through the skin.Dry brushingMake dry brushing part of your personal care routine.Gently stroking the skin with a brush exfoliates dead skin cells and promotes the flow of lymph fluid.Sour foodsEat sour foods.Sour, astringent foods like citrus fruits and apple cider vinegar cause the vessels of the lymph system to contract.Enjoy a nice, relaxing bathEnjoy a nice, relaxing bath. A hot soak stimulates release of toxins through the skin.Add Epsom salt and baking soda to your bath water to maximize detoxification.Lymphatic SystemRestBe sure you’re getting enough rest.The system that detoxifies and maintains the health of your central nervous system is most active when you are asleep.WalkTake a walk. Standing drains cerebrospinal fluid. Be careful not to sit for long periods of time at your desk.BreatheUse breathing exercises to keep your brain clear.Deep breathing and strong inhalations have been shown to stimulate flow of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain.https://goodnesslover.com/blogs/health/opening-drainage-pathways-what-does-it-mean-and-why-should-we-do-it
Quicksilver Scientific on Liver Detox:
Phase III of detoxification is the final stage of physiological detoxification within the body involving the movement of toxins out of liver, kidney, and intestinal cells into the stool and urine for excretion.
The movement or filtration of toxins is a critical aspect of phase III detoxification. A requirement for phase III includes optimal bile production and fluidity, supporting the transport and elimination of toxins through membrane-bound cellular proteins, including the multidrug resistance protein (MRP), organic anion transport proteins (OATP), and P-glycoprotein.
The kidneys and intestines also play pivotal roles in phase III detoxification. These organs benefit from drainage support and binding agents to ensure elimination of toxins.
Detoxification strategies that fail to support phase III can result in toxin recirculation, uncomfortable detox reactions, and collateral damage to patients’ health.
Phase III Support: Bile, Bitters, Binders, and Phosphatidylcholine
Proper bile flow is the foundation of Phase III detoxification and support the transport and elimination of toxins. Read on to learn more about bile and supplementation to support phase III detoxification.
Bile is a fluid produced in the liver and secreted by the gallbladder. It is made up of several components, including bile acids, salts, phospholipids, cholesterol, and water. Bile supports the digestion of dietary fats, regulates the composition of the gut microbiome, and is a component of phase III detoxification.
Fascinating research indicates that the cellular transporters that move bile acids and salts in and out of the intestine also transport toxins. (2,3) Therefore, sluggish bile flow, known as cholestasis, slows toxin efflux and impedes successful detoxification. Various factors drive cholestasis, including gallstones, biliary disease, chronic liver disease, certain medications, excess estrogen, and endotoxin, or lipopolysaccharide (LPS).(4,5) In addition to directly impacting phase III of detoxification, poor bile flow drives gastrointestinal dysbiosis and conditions such as small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), which further increase the body’s toxic burden.(6)
Bitter herbs, also known simply as “bitters,” have been an intrinsic part of life throughout human history. Traditional Chinese Medicine has a long, rich history of using bitter herbs for conditions ranging from diabetes to arthritis.(7) Swedish bitters, a combination of aloe, rhubarb, saffron, myrrh, gentian, zedoary, and agarikon, have been consumed in Europe as an herbal tonic since the 15th century.(8)
Today, we can use bitter herbs such as dandelion, solidago, myrrh, milk thistle, and gentian, to support bile flow and phase III detoxification at a cellular level.
For example, guggulsterone, a bitter compound found in myrrh resin, stimulates the human bile salt export pump (BSEP), located in cell membranes. BSEP stimulation is a major phase III detoxification mechanism.(9,10) Silymarin, a constituent of milk thistle seeds, enhances bile salt production and biliary excretion.(11) Silbinin and silychristin, additional constituents of milk thistle seeds, stabilize the membrane-bound bile acid export pump (BSEP) and multidrug resistance protein 2 (MRP2) transporters, facilitating the excretion of bile acids and toxins.(12,13)
Binding agents or ‘binders’ are a key component of Phase III detoxification. Binders support toxin elimination by adsorbing toxins. Different from absorption, adsorption is the chemical process of attracting, binding, and accumulating particles on a surface. At an atomic level, adsorption involves the sharing of electrons between the surface of the “adsorbent,” such as activated charcoal, and the “adsorbate,” the substance being adsorbed. Therefore, ingesting binders allows toxins to be chemically “captured” in the gut and eliminated, rather than recirculated.
Toxins that are transported from the liver to the intestine can be reabsorbed into systemic circulation through a process called enterohepatic circulation. Recirculating toxins wreak havoc on numerous body systems. For example, mycotoxins can cause cellular damage when recirculated between the intestine, bloodstream, and liver. Endotoxin, also known as lipopolysaccharide (LPS), is a bacterial toxin released by gram-negative bacteria. If not eliminated properly, it can travel through the enterohepatic circulation, triggering widespread inflammation and symptoms such as cognitive dysfunction, headaches, joint pain, and malaise.(14,15)
Conversely, when a binder is present in the intestine, it can capture toxins, such as mycotoxins and LPS, and prevent their reabsorption via the enterohepatic circulation.
The natural world offers a variety of binding agents, including activated charcoal, bentonite clay, and chitosan. For example, activated charcoal contains millions of tiny pores that adsorb toxins in the gut, including metals, bacterial endotoxin, and mycotoxins.(16,17) Hospitals and emergency rooms have long used activated charcoal to treat cases of poisoning in children and adults. Activated charcoal is often made from coconut shells or bamboo. It is well-tolerated and readily excreted in the stool.
Chitosan, another potent binding agent, is a water-soluble polysaccharide derived from the outer skeleton of shellfish. Despite being derived from shellfish, chitosan has not been found to trigger allergenicity in shellfish-allergic individuals because the allergenic proteins have been removed. Chitosan binds heavy metals and microbes and may also support the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, which play crucial roles in the immune system.(18.19)
When detoxing, it is best to utilize a combination of binders to capture an array of toxins, as different natural binders have different affinities and capacities for toxin removal.
Phosphatidylcholine (PC) is the predominant lipid building block of cellular and organelle membranes. It is also an integral part of bile and is thus necessary for detoxification.
PC insufficiency reduces bile flow and may slow down toxin elimination.(20) Furthermore, when PC is in short supply, hepatic cell membranes suffer damage from the free radicals generated during detoxification. PC deficiency also causes lipids to accumulate in the liver, hindering detoxification and promoting inflammation. (21)
The Kidneys: Unsung Heroes of Detoxification
The kidneys are the unsung heroes of detoxification, processing an extraordinary array of toxins via their tiny tubules. These delicate organs filter an astonishing 150 quarts of blood daily, ridding the body of various fat and water-soluble toxins including endogenous toxins like ammonia, urea, creatinine, and toxins derived from phase II hepatic detoxification. The kidneys also regulate the elimination of exogenous contaminants like heavy metals.(22) Alongside the liver and the gastrointestinal system, the kidneys play a crucial role in phase III detoxification; however, their small size and fragile structure make them susceptible to damage directly by toxins and through the detoxification process.
The kidneys use several processes to filter toxins from blood and prepare them for elimination in the urine. First, the glomeruli, tiny clusters of looped blood vessels in the kidneys, filter out many small- and medium-sized substances. The proximal tubules of the kidneys harbor active transporters, including the vital MRPs that usher toxins from the blood into the urine. Finally, passive diffusion of some toxins, namely fat-soluble toxins, also occurs in the renal tubules.
Botanicals for Kidney Support
Incorporating kidney-supporting botanicals to detoxification protocols may protect them from toxin-induced damage and support the urinary elimination of toxins. Several Western herbs and herbs from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) have been found to support the kidneys, including dandelion leaf, Fu ling, and He Shou Wu.
In TCM, dandelion leaf is considered an anti-toxin herb. It is rich in phytochemicals, including β-sitosterol, α-amyrin, l, quercetin glycosides, chicoric acid, and sesquiterpene lactones. Β-sitosterol has been found to inhibit kidney damage in rats exposed to toxic industrial solvents, while chicoric acid prevents chemotherapy-induced kidney damage by upregulating the antioxidant Nrf2 pathway.(23)
Fu ling (Poria cocos) is a medicinal mushroom used for over 2,000 years in TCM.(24) Fu ling has diuretic effects and aids detoxification by inhibiting the kidney’s water transporter, renal aquaporin-2.25
He Shou Wu (Polygonum multiflorum), another treasured herb in the TCM herbal compendium, also supports the kidneys. It contains a compound called (2,3,5,4)-Tetrahydroxystilbene-2-O-β-D-glucoside (THSG) that is structurally similar to resveratrol and has been shown to protect the kidneys against synthetic chemical toxicity while reducing the expression of genes involved in kidney fibrosis through the Nrf2 antioxidant pathway.(26) Interestingly, He Shou Wu also demonstrates hepatoprotective effects, decreasing inflammatory activity in the liver.(27)
Phase III detoxification is the culmination of numerous biochemical and physiological processes that transform harmful contaminants, making them available for elimination. However, when phase III detoxification and the excretion pathways are overlooked, toxins may recirculate in the body, continuing to degrade health. By supporting phase III detoxification and the two primary excretion pathways, bile and kidney elimination, we can improve detoxification outcomes dramatically.