(Read Understanding Detoxification First)
I previously wrote about the complexity of the detoxification process and tried my best to break the process down for you, in the hope that you could understand that detoxification involves a hell of a lot more than simply flushing everything out, and that there is no 'one pill does all' approach when it comes to restoring good health. If you haven't read that one, I recommend you to click the link above and read that one before sinking your teeth into this one!
I’ve expanded below on the practical things you can do to give your body the TLC it needs to detoxify optimally:
1. Adequate Protein
Protein from animal and plant sources gets broken down to amino acids (little building blocks that all have different roles in the body). Enzymes (key helpers in liver detoxification) are made up from long chains of these different amino acids building blocks... So we need complete sources of protein to make enzymes.
Inadequate protein or poor quality/incomplete protein sources = All 3 liver detoxification pathways can’t function optimally.
2. Reduce Liver Loaders
Liver loaders are substances that burden the liver and cause congestion (think alcohol, drugs, medications, tobacco, highly processed/packaged foods, refined sugars, trans fats, chemicals in personal care products, pesticides etc..).
Excessive amounts of these loaders burden the liver, as it is the liver's job to organise the process and excretion of these toxins.
Basically... If your days are usually full of these loaders and not a lot else... It’s a bit like putting a tap on full blast and expect the drain to keep up! There is only so much our liver can handle before everything goes tits up.
3. The power of plants!
Amp up the fruit and veg... Big time!
You want as many nutrients, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants as possible to help quench the free radicals (the harmful by-products) created in Phase I and to support the specific pathways in phase II.
Your gut loves plants... We need a happy gut full of diverse good bacteria for phase III to function optimally.
And Fiber... For lovely, frequent bowel movements that will help ‘carry’ out the toxic breakdown products, your body doesn't want to hold onto.
4. Drinking plenty of water
Around 60% of the adult human body is water. Staying hydrated is so important for maintaining overall health and wellbeing, as well as effective detoxification.
Biochemical reactions happen in a water medium (hence why we need the Phase II process of detoxification to make the metabolites water-soluble).
Water is one of the main constituents of blood (about 90%!) and also contributes to the transport of nutrients to the body cells.
Water is so important to help the kidneys and bowels keep moving along nicely - two very important (and often neglected!) aspects of the detoxification system.
5. Managing Stress:
The liver also processes lots of internal compounds (from the breakdown of metabolic processes, our own hormones etc).. so this also needs to be remembered when we are thinking about our livers workload.
Stress hormones (especially adrenaline and cortisol) need to be removed from the body... excessive stress puts the additional burden onto the liver to eliminate these.
Avoiding stress I understand is not always easily done. But I can't stress enough how important it is to try and find little ways you can practise some ‘self-care’ and do something that brings you out of ‘fight or flight’ stress monster mode and back into a ‘rest and digest’, zen-like state. Even if it's just for 10 minutes a day.
Anything that gets you out of your head and makes you feel good!
Little extras your liver also loves:
Bitter foods (radicchio, apple cider vinegar, dandelion)
Fermented foods (kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi)
Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, kale, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts)
Antioxidants (matcha, tea, wild berries, raw cacao)
So to conclude, detoxification is not about hammering one aspect of health, it’s something that’s happening all the time... Not just after a huge night out! Have fun, love life. But continuously make an effort to support your body.