How to support your body’s detoxification pathways
We live in a world where we are exposed to an increasing number of toxins daily. From the air we breathe to the water we drink and the food we eat – toxins are impossible to escape. Is it any wonder our body has trouble keeping up? This is why it’s more important than ever to make sure our body’s detoxification pathways are working optimally.
What are our detoxification pathways?
Put simply, the body’s detoxification pathways are the mechanisms behind how we process and eliminate harmful or excess substances from the body. Although these pathways are the way we absorb toxins (and nutrients), it is also how we can release them. Supporting each of your detoxification pathways helps them function properly so that when we inevitably encounter toxins in our day-to-day life, the body can process and eliminate them without us even noticing.
The skin is the body’s first line of defence against all foreign substances, from synthetic chemicals to organic bacteria. However, the skin is also highly permeable, absorbing as much as 60% of what it comes into contact with. So, although it may act as a barrier to some substances, many harmful chemicals still make their way through the skin and into the bloodstream. This detoxification pathway also helps with the excretion of toxins through perspiration. Sweat acts as a carrier, transporting toxins to the surface of the skin to be eliminated.
The kidneys are responsible for several functions in the body. This includes maintaining blood pressure, normal pH levels, electrolyte balance and the excretion of waste from the body in the form of urine. The kidneys work hard to detoxify the body of toxins and can do so in two different ways. Firstly, they act as filters for the blood, removing toxins and waste products from the bloodstream. Secondly, the kidneys work together with the liver to receive toxins that have been processed and are ready to be eliminated through the urine.
The liver is perhaps the most well-known organ for detoxification, and with good reason – it does most of the heavy lifting. The detoxification process in the liver is complex and consists of two phases that work collaboratively to help the body eliminate toxins.
Phase 1 occurs when a group of enzymes collectively termed Cytochrome P450, work to either neutralize toxins directly or transform them into an intermediary substance. This is where Phase 2 comes in. Phase 2 acts to modify their chemical structure making them either water or fat-soluble, allowing for the body to excrete them through either urine or feces. This process needs to occur efficiently because these intermediaries can be even more toxic than they were originally.
Just as we can breathe in harmful chemicals, the lungs also help the body to excrete toxins. With every inhalation, the body takes in oxygen, while carbon dioxide is emitted with every exhalation. The process of respiration, particularly deep diaphragmatic breathing also helps to oxygenate the cells which is vital for helping cells produce energy.
The digestive system plays a major role not only in absorbing nutrients to fuel the body, but in identifying toxins to be eliminated from the body. In order for the body to eliminate the waste created by the body’s daily detoxification processes, the entire digestive system must be working optimally. The last thing you want is to reabsorb toxins back into your system that your body worked so hard to get rid of! But how do you know if your digestion is working well or not?
Symptoms like gas, bloating, cramping, heartburn and even fatigue after meals can all point to compromised digestion. Having regular bowel movements can also be an indicator of how well not only your digestion is working, but the health of your entire gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Diarrhea, constipation or finding pieces of undigested food in your stool are signs of a compromised GI tract. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it may be time to give some attention to healing your gut. In particular, colostrum has been shown to help improve the lining of the GI tract, helping with conditions such as leaky gut and IBD.
The body is detoxifying all of the time, every minute of every day. While undertaking a restrictive cleanse or detox program may yield results in the short term, it is your daily habits and lifestyle choices that will ultimately determine your body’s ability to detoxify effectively.
When the body’s detoxification pathways are working well, there are many benefits such as:
- Illness prevention
- Increased energy and stamina
- Better digestion
- Increased nutritional absorption
- Weight management
- Improvement in allergies and food sensitivities
- Improved mental and emotional wellbeing
- So much more!
How can I tell if my body is not detoxing properly?
Here are some symptoms to check for:
- Brain fog
- Frequent headaches
- Excess weight
- Hormone imbalance
- Depression and mood swings
- Poor stress response
- Joint pain
- Skin irritation
How to support your body’s daily detox
Toxins are unavoidable. But by making small changes to minimize your exposure as well as taking steps to optimize your detoxification pathways, your body can be supported in the long run.
Move your body
The more you move your body, the more oxygenated your cells become. Daily movement can also help with the flow of lymphatic fluid through your body, which is responsible for transporting waste from the cells.
Eat a healthy diet
Add a wide spectrum of foods to your diet. The detoxification processes in the liver depend upon a wide variety of nutrients in order to do its job effectively. B vitamins, minerals such as zinc and selenium, and amino acids like glycine, cysteine and methionine all play crucial roles in helping the liver function properly. These can be found in vegetables like dandelion greens, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and kale as well as legumes, nuts, seeds.
Ensure adequate fibre. Fibre binds to toxins and pulls them out of the body. If you aren’t getting enough fibre in your diet, supplementation can help. Psyllium + FibreGum contains 7g of fibre per serving, which helps to promote smoother and more regular elimination.
Hydration is key and its effects on the body are multifaceted. After all, the human body is made up of about 60% water. Water not only helps to flush toxins out of the system through the kidneys, it also helps to hydrate every cell in the body. Cells need to be well hydrated in order to function properly. However, before you start guzzling, take note of your water source. While water is necessary for detoxification, it can also be a source of the very toxins you are trying to avoid. Filtered or spring water is preferred because it does not contain the level of chemicals found in tap water.
Take stock of any toxic products in your home. Household cleaners, laundry detergents and artificial sprays or fragrances are the main culprits. Swap them out for natural or homemade blends.
Making small changes to your daily lifestyle, nutrition, and environmental habits while supporting each of the body’s main detoxification pathways can help your body’s ability to function optimally, leaving you feeling stronger, healthier, and more vibrant for years to come.
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