We’ve all heard it: “All you need to detoxify is a liver and some kidneys.” But every time I see that phrase doing the rounds on Instagram or in the media I get so frustrated because whilst it’s true that our main systems of detoxification are our liver and kidneys, amongst others, it completely fails to take into account that lifestyle, diet and environmental toxicity all play a part in our detoxing potential. In this blog post today I’m going to explain why that is, and hopefully give you a better understanding of what ‘detox’ actually means.
In a recent Presscription blog post, Food vs. Environment, I spoke about the role that environmental toxicity has on our health these days, and the very scary fact that babies are now born with approximately 200 chemical pollutants already in their systems (that come in via the mother’s placenta). When you stop to consider the fact that we’re up against it from birth, having eaten nothing, been nowhere, taken no medications etc yet, then you can start to see how it’s simply not enough these days to own a liver - we all need a helping hand to ‘take out the trash.’
What actually is Detox?
The body has various ‘routes out’ that it employs to get rid of cellular waste, and toxins that it’s biotransformed and metabolised ready to be excreted (again, check our recent post on Food vs Environment for some of the most common pollutants in our environments today). These routes out include:
Tears (I know, so random! But how much better do you feel after a good cry though?!)
Liver and Bowels: Stool
A lot of this list is quite simple: breathe deeper, fuller exhales, sweat every day (sauna or exercise), cry if you feel the need to, move your bowels daily, don’t get constipated... but it’s the complex processes going on behind all of this on a cellular level that are so important. Let’s look at the liver…
There are quite a few complicated and long words that go alongside liver detox which I won't mention here but essentially there are 2 phases to liver detoxification: Phase 1 involves a set of enzymes called the PYP450 Cytochromes and Phase 2 involves conjugation pathways. (There’s actually a third phase too where toxins eventually make it to the outside world, but I won’t go into that here).
Essentially what that means is that in phase 1, toxins get liberated from cells or wherever they’re hiding via enzymatic reactions and they enter an intermediary phase where they actually become more toxic than they were to begin with. At this stage, these super toxins get stored in the bile, ready for phase 2. In phase 2 these super toxins are joined to molecules of protein via processes like methylation and acetylation (the big words come in here!) and eventually excreted from the body - wahoo!
But what if something in phase 1 or 2 goes wrong? What if your diet is devoid of the specific nutrients needed to make phase 1 happen? What if your methylation pathways are sluggish and therefore your phase 2 detox is also slow and ineffectual? You end up not being able to take out the trash, you’re tired, sluggish, or worse, end up with a chronic condition. There is so much at stake and it all hangs in a delicate balance!
Presscription Juice Cleanses are formulated with key ingredients to gently support your detoxification pathways. Why not try our Signature Cleanse (as pictured above) if you're new to cleansing? Or The Advanced Cleanse for a more rigorous cleanse with loads of beneficial nutrients from plenty of yummy green juices!
How can you support your body’s natural detoxification?
The reason I get so fed up of the “all you need is a liver” concept is because we are all dealing with so much more toxicity than ever before. Even if you have really powerful and functional detox pathways, you internal ‘bucket’ of toxicity is likely still very full or nearly overflowing due to harmful chemicals in our environment, from our cosmetics, from the pesticide residues on our food, from stress, from poor diet, from lack of nutrients, from exposure to toxicity at work...the list is literally endless!
It simple isn’t enough to just assume it will all be okay these days, we all need to up our game when it comes to our lifestyle choices, our intake of specific nutrients to support detox (for example B vitamins, magnesium, iron, zinc and copper are all necessary for phase 1 detox), supporting our lymphatic system, and just generally taking the pressure off our overburdened bodies. Resting more, calming everything down, doing the occasional fast and getting enough sleep all play an important role in detox too.
A quick and easy way to up the detoxifying pressure is to take a break from constantly digesting food 24/7 and go back to our more ancestral way of eating, i.e. with much longer periods of time in between meals or consuming less calories for a short period of time (e.g. with a Juice Cleanse). that way, our bodies get the chance to free up energy for repair and detoxification.
Here are a few quick and simple ways to support your detoxification pathways:
- Poo every day! (Sorry, but it’s true!)
- Increase your intake of cruciferous veggies - they’re amazing for supporting phase 2 liver detox. Kale, sprouts, cabbage etc.
- Eat adequate amounts of protein (Presscription juice cleanses specifically finish each day with a protein-dense almond milk for this reason).
- Drink lots of water to support kidney detox
- Sweat every day
- Take the pressure off your digestive system whilst still consuming vital minerals, vitamins and protein by trying a Presscription Juice cleanse.
- Sleep: The liver is on a circadian clock too and does the bulk of its work at about 2-3am at night.
- Prioritise organic, seasonal food
- Avoid exposure to toxins: chemicals in cleaning products, nail varnish, cosmetics, solvents etc.
"Amazing. Seriously recommend this to anyone who's seeking a healthy life. I’ve added juice days in my diet. I came across Presscription on Instagram and I’m more than satisfied! I will be using Presscription at least once a week. I felt amazing after the first day and I’m looking forward to having it in my weekly routine." - Nathan, The Intermediate Cleanse