Since we cannot escape all the toxins in today’s world, we must protect ourselves by supporting and enhancing our body’s natural detoxification systems. Of all our detoxification organs, the liver plays the most vital role. It contains a group of enzyme systems that dispose of toxins from our bodies. Most toxins and drugs are fat-soluble. To be removed via urine, they must be converted to a non-toxic, water-soluble form. This process occurs in two phases that work together and require certain supportive vitamins and minerals in order to function properly.
First, the toxic substances are broken down into new intermediate molecules that can then be handled and excreted. These new molecules, called reactive oxygen species, are actually more harmful to us than the original toxins. Therefore, it is important that the two phases are in proper balance to ensure that the toxins are converted and removed as soon as possible. To help balance the two phases of detoxification and protect against damage from the reactive oxygen species created during the first phase of detox, we must choose the right foods and supplements:
Key Nutrients & Foods
• Cruciferous Vegetables (cauliflower, cabbage, watercress, bok choy, broccoli and similar green leafy vegetables) contain indole- 3-carbinol, a substance that enhances the processing of toxins.
• B Vitamins help the liver break down toxins and support chemical processes needed for excretion of toxins. B vitamins can be attained in the diet by eating a variety of whole grains, lean meats, fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds. A good quality vitamin B complex supplement may be helpful for some people.
• Taurine is an amino acid that helps process and excrete toxins and acts as an antioxidant. We can get this amino acid from foods such as meats and seafood and in supplement form.
• Garlic and Onions contain substances that enhance the excretion of toxins.
• Glutathione, a powerful antioxidant that is critical during detoxification.
Nutrients needed to support or create glutathione:
• Glycine, Glutamate & Cystine: glycine and glutamate (amino acids obtained from proteins in our diet or from whey protein supplements) combined with cystine (found in yogurt, granola, oatmeal, or taken as N-acetylcystine supplement) create Glutathione.
• Selenium: Found in Brazil nuts, snapper, halibut, salmon, scallops, and as a supplement, selenium supports glutathione.
• Vitamin C: Found in citrus fruits, tomatoes, strawberries, peppers, or in supplement form, vitamin C also supports glutathione.
• Pomegranate, Blackberries, Raspberries, Strawberries, Cranberries: These fruits contain ellagic acid which protects the liver from toxins and oxidative damage.
• Milk Thistle and Artichoke (Cynara scolymus) Herbs: These protect the liver as well as improve its overall function.
• Green Tea: This strong antioxidant stimulates the breakdown and elimination of toxins. Green tea can also be taken in the form of a supplement (EGCG or green tea extract).