Detoxification is a natural process in the body, and the primary organ that first comes to mind when talking about detoxification is the liver. But it’s not just the liver’s job; other organs help too. There are several pathways that the body uses to remove toxins, such as the colon, kidneys and skin. The skin is the largest organ that helps in detoxification. It offers a larger surface area for excretion compared to others, where waste products are removed via the sweat. The kidneys remove wastes from the blood and excrete them through the urine. The colon collects toxins and waste produced through metabolic processes, packages them with fibers, and then brings them out through the feces.
If any of these exit points is blocked, toxins go back to the cells and accumulate there. For example, if a person is constipated, toxins have nowhere else to go but back inside the body. These can be reabsorbed through the intestinal walls and be circulated by the blood to other organs. This is also why taking adequate water and fiber is crucial to detoxification so that any toxins collected from the body are excreted properly. Water helps promote better movement in the colon. It is also a crucial part of urine and sweat.
Detoxification is a process that heavily relies on nutrients. If done right, the body immensely benefits. If done incorrectly, the body might suffer from more problems that are serious. Most people think that detoxifying means starvation and following a liquid-only diet. It’s more than just that. In fact, some of the more popular juice cleanses and starvation-detoxes do not provide the body with the adequate nutrients it needs. So, instead of a real cleanup, the body is placed at higher risk for problems, which can affect hormones and fat control.
Phases of detoxification
A proper detox process has 3 main phases. Phase I involves helping and giving the liver an opportunity to perform its blood-screening function. The liver is the main organ responsible for screening every molecule in the blood. It activates proteins and molecules before the body can use them. It also inactivates those chemicals and proteins that are no longer needed by the body, turning off processes that need to stop. Any toxins and foreign molecules are inactivated, repackaged and tagged for excretion. Some of these go straight to Phase III of detox. Some require further breakdown in Phase II.
Molecules that need further processing before getting eliminated are often bound to molecules such as glycine, sulfate, and glutathione. The resulting compound is now inactive, non-toxic and ready to be eliminated. But, this process produces free radicals as by-products. Free radicals can cause oxidative stress in the body and cause problems. This is where adequate nutrition during the detox period becomes crucial. Certain nutrients are needed to deal with these byproducts and protect the body from any damage.
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