We are all exposed to toxic substances to a greater or lesser extent. First let’s consider where these toxins come from: toxins formed inside the body are a result of normal metabolic processes and the breakdown of micro-organisms. Toxins from outside the body may be ingested in our food and drink, inhaled when breathing, or absorbed through the skin. Ingested toxins include insecticides and pesticides, heavy metals, food additives, over-the-counter, recreational and prescription drugs, alcohol, bacteria, chemicals from food containers and cooking receptacles, and other pollutants and contaminants.
We may inhale or absorb toxins from our environment, perhaps through exposure in the workplace, mould in old buildings, exhaust fumes, cleaning products, perfumes and personal toiletries.
The human body has the ability to get rid of these toxic molecules through the liver, kidneys, colon, lungs and skin. However, nowadays we are exposed to a countless number of toxins and depending on our environment, lifestyle and genetic makeup, we will all store some of these toxic substances in the cells of our bodies. This build-up of stored toxins may be referred to as our ‘Toxic Load,’ and for some, just a small toxic load may have significant health effects, while others may cope with higher levels before experiencing often chronic health conditions. The key is to reduce our exposure to toxic substances while supporting the body’s organs of detoxification to function well.
Excess fat-soluble toxins may get stored in fat cells, bone marrow, the liver and the central nervous system and brain, while water-soluble toxins have an affinity for muscles, joints and connective tissue. So a build-up of toxins may be a major contributory factor to health conditions such as: hormone imbalances (endocrine disruption), inflammatory conditions, autoimmune disease, obesity, chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia, arthritis and joint pain, neurological conditions, headaches, allergies and skin rashes to name but a few.
So surely a January detox after the indulgent festive period is a good thing? Well yes, it is - BUT - the body’s detoxification processes are functioning every second of every day, so while a short detox programme is going to be a great start, it is important to be supporting our organs of detoxification through dietary and lifestyle interventions long-term. If we do this, the body can easily cope with times of indulgence such as Christmas or holidays without any detrimental effect to health.
Understanding how the body deals with toxic substances is most important. To get rid of toxins stored in our cells we must first mobilise them from the cell to organs of detoxification. Your liver is the primary detoxification centre that will take the toxin through two stages; Phase 1 begins the transformation of the toxin through oxidation, reduction or hydrolysis into a highly reactive, dangerous molecule, preparing it for Phase 2. Phase 2 is a conjugation process that will turn the toxin into a safe, more water-soluble, easy-to-excrete substance. At this stage it is important to know what foods to eat to keep the flow from Phase 1 to Phase 2 balanced, otherwise reactive substances as a result of Phase 1 can pass into the body, causing damage and increasing the risk of chronic disease.
Excretion of the toxin may occur through the colon, kidneys, lungs or skin. So you can see that all of these organs and all of these biochemical processes: mobilisation, detoxification and excretion, need to be properly supported for optimal function all-year-round, not just in January.
If you would like to learn more about supporting detoxification for life, check out my masterclasses.