Article by Dr. Jo
Adopting a healthier lifestyle is such a popular New Year’s resolution, that marketers now call it “New Year, New You.” But as people turn to fad diets and fitness classes, they often don’t address the root causes of their extra weight, acne, fatigue, or digestive disorders.
The truth is that our bodies are constantly under attack. Everyday, we are exposed to foreign chemicals known as xenobiotics via food, water, air, and direct contact.
While being exposed to toxins may not be a surprise in modern times, the intensity may be. One very troubling study was conducted by the Environmental Working Group.
They analyzed babies’ umbilical cord blood and discovered 287 different chemicals including pesticides, consumer product ingredients, and wastes from burning coal, gasoline, and garbage!
So how are all these environmental toxins affecting our health? New York University Medical Center’s guide Staying Healthy in a Risky Environment lists the following:
• Allergies/food sensitivities
• Autoimmune problems
• Chronic asthma
• Depression and anxiety
• Gastrointestinal (GI) disorders (Irritable Bowel Syndrome, chronic constipation, Crohn's disease, etc)
• High cholesterol
• Joint and muscle pain
• Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
• Pregnancy and postpartum care
• Women's health
• Weight loss
While detoxification is a normal process our body goes through daily, when the system becomes overburdened, especially by environmental toxins, our state of optimal health becomes jeopardized. Our body then speaks to us with symptoms.
Over the counter cleanse kits have become very popular, but buyer beware; these programs are often merely laxatives and herbs -- not only do they not work with the body’s natural detoxification processes, they may also cause more harm then good. One size does not fit all when it comes to detoxification!
When detoxing, we need to understand how the body actually releases toxins. Detox occurs in 3 Phases:
Phase 1 – Transformation - where a toxin turns from a fat-soluble to a water-soluble substance.
Phase 2 – Conjugation - where another molecule is attached to the toxin to make it even more soluble.
Phase 3 - Transport - where your body finally excretes toxins out of the body.
Think of it this way. You pour dish soap on an oily plate (Phase 1), then you scrub the plate with a sponge (Phase 2), and then you wash everything down the drain (Phase 3).
All 3 Phases must be in balance, especially Phase 1 and Phase 2. An increase in Phase 1 without proper Phase 2 can actually create a more highly toxic condition.
If you splatter dish soap on an oily plate without using a sponge, you can potentially spray the dirt onto other dishes in the sink. Plus, after doing all this work, you do not want your drain do be clogged!
Not everybody responds the same way when detoxing. We all have genetic variation when responding to a foreign substance. When one person can drink a bottle of wine without a blush, another may turn bright red after only a sip.
In fact, 30-50% of Americans have a reduced ability to detox because of issues with something called the MTHFR gene, which causes the body to have difficulty converting key nutrients into bioavailable forms.
Food can even alter detoxification. High-protein diets can increase or decrease Phase I depending on whether the protein is from an animal or vegetable source.
When you are protein deficient, your Phase 1 will slow down causing an increased toxicity.
Therefore, before starting a detox, it’s important to make sure that you are not deficient in protein. When you shop for a detox supplement and compare ingredients, you may see some common ingredients among them since certain foods are know to support both Phases I and II - like onions, garlic, cruciferous vegetables, chlorophyll, citrus, Ginkgo biloba, pine bark, grape seed, and green tea.
While I recommend people consult with a qualified functional medicine physician who understands the physiological mechanisms involved in detoxification, here’s a “general” dietary guideline I recommend my patients follow along with their specific treatment plan:
FOODS TO EAT/DRINK:
• Fresh water (8-10 glasses a day), herbal teas, green tea, fruit juices (no sugar added), vegetable juices
• Grain foods made from rice, millet, quinoa, buckwheat, or tapioca
• Fresh fruits, vegetables, beans (navy, white, red kidney, etc.), peas (fresh, split, snap)
• Fish** (not shellfish) and moderate amounts of chicken, turkey, and lamb
• Olive oil (flaxseed oil in moderation)
FOODS TO AVOID:
• Any food that you are allergic to
• Dairy (milk, cheese, yogurt, butter), eggs, margarine, shortening
• Foods prepared with gluten-containing cereals like wheat, oats, rye, barley; those ingredients normally found in bread, pasta, etc. • Tomatoes and tomato sauces, corn
• Alcohol, caffeine (coffee, black tea, sodas)
• Soy or products made from soy, such as soy milk or tofu
• Peanuts or peanut butter
• Beef, pork, cold cuts, bacon, hot dogs, canned meat, sausage,
shellfish, meat substitutes made from soy
The right decisions when detoxing can make a lasting impact on your health.
Wishing You Wellness,
Questions? Dr. Jo can be contacted at 310-445-9597 or firstname.lastname@example.org