Good health is determined by many factors, one of which is the body’s ability to detoxify effectively. This is the process whereby toxins, compounds that have harmful effects on cells, are either neutralized or excreted from the body.
By: Marinette Winceslaus BSc (Hons)
Exposure to toxic substances is unavoidable, as they are present everywhere- in the atmosphere, the food we eat and the water we drink.
A significant amount of toxins are also generated within the body as a result of the metabolic processes that go on within it.
The liver, alongside the intestines and kidneys, is a primary organ of detoxification. All the toxins that accumulate in the body pass though the liver to render them harmless; as such, the liver bears a large responsibility in cleansing the body.
Modern living has seen a tremendous rise in the toxic load the liver has to deal with, leading to an overburdened liver some individuals.
It is believed that conditions such as psoriasis, acne, chronic headaches, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases and chronic fatigue may in part be a consequence of poor liver function.
The production of bile from the liver is vital to detoxification since this fluid acts to remove fat-soluble toxins from the blood. Low secretion of bile may result in cholesterol and other fat-soluble toxins building up in the liver. There are numerous lipotropic agents, substances known to encourage the expulsion of fat from the liver, which may help to encourage detoxification.
Choline e Inositol: Choline is known to play a vital role in fat metabolism by helping to promote the low of fat through the liver. Lack of choline may cause stagnation of fat in the liver and in turn hamper its capacity to break down fat. Its importance in liver health is evident from the scientific research, for example, in one study subjects who were put on choline-deficient diet developed fatty infiltration of the liver and other signs of liver dysfunction.
As inositol works in close alliance with choline to assists fat metabolism in the liver, it is useful to take these two nutrients in combination.
L-Methionine: The amino acid methionine assists in the breakdown of fats and so may help to prevent an accumulation of fat in the liver. Possibly as a result of methionine ability to raise levels of another amino acid taurine, this is known to stimulate bile flow. In addition, methionine potential antioxidant effects may help to protect the liver from free radicals, the harmful by-products of detoxification.
Artichoke: Artichoke is commonly used for assisting detoxification owing to its choleretic effects (gentle bile stimulating properties). Cynarin, a key active compound in artichoke, has been shown to have powerful antioxidant properties and therefore may help to prevent cell damage in the liver. Poor bile flow is associated with fatty meal intolerance and irregular bowel habits and studies show artichoke to be of use for these conditions.
Green tea: These effects have been attributed to compounds known as catechins (polyphenols) found in high quality green tea leaf extracts, which may help to support detoxification.
Glutathione: Large stores of glutathione are found in the liver where acts to detoxify harmful compounds such as heavy metals, solvents and pesticides. Additionally, glutathione is a strong antioxidant and so may protect the liver from free radicals.
Milk Thistle: Milk thistle has been the subject of extensive research. Silymarin, which consist of a group of flavonoids, has been identified as the main active principle of milk thistle. One of the key actions of silymarin is its ability to prevent depletion of glutathione, which is vital for detoxification.
L-Glutamine: Glutamine is often used in practice to heal and strengthen the gut wall in situations such as leaky gut syndrome. It is thought to act as fuel for cells and may assist in sealing gaps in the gut wall.
Alpha Lipoic Acid: Is considered to be an excellent antioxidant particularly because it works in both water and fat environments unlike most antioxidants such as vitamin C and vitamin E which are specific to water and fat respectively. It is popular as a liver support since it may protect the liver from free radical damage and help promote elimination of toxins from the body.
Once toxins have been metabolised into less harmful molecules they need to be eliminated to prevent them accumulating and being reabsorbed into the blood. The healthy functioning of the bowel is necessary in order for this to occur properly. A balanced diet incorporating plenty of fruit and vegetables and adequate water intake alongside the use of supplements may help to regulate bowel movements.
FOS (fructo-oligosaccharides), a source of soluble fibre, has been studied for its effects on bowel health. Research has demonstrated that FOS draws water into the waste matter helping to gently bulk up the stools and facilitate easier bowel motions. Furthermore, FOS has a prebiotic effect meaning that it may help to feed the friendly gut bacteria, which produce substances that stimulate peristalsis.
Use FOS that is derived naturally from chicory root, since it is only the natural form of FOS that has been scientifically proven to support bowel health. “Synthetic versions, usually made from sugar beet, do not offer the same health benefits.
Artichoke: Artichoke is purported to regulate bowel movements by stimulating the production of bile and in turn encouraging peristalsis. It is especially useful to use artichoke alongside FOS in cases where irregular bowel movements are a long standing issue. A high potency artichoke extract standardised upon 5% cynarin is recommended since this is the level use in scientific studies of note.
Acidophilus: The friendly bacteria in the gut are vital for optimal gut health yet many factors such as medication, stress and illness are known to deplete levels. Similarly, the large intestine needs re-seeding after a detox programmed and the easiest way for this to be achieved is through a probiotic supplement.
The suggested level is 10 billion live bacteria per capsule.
References: By Marinette Winceslaus BSc (Hons) to Lamberts Healthcare Ltd.