How Does Body Detoxification Really Work?
Detoxification is an essential process that the body undergoes to optimise energy levels, protect cells against DNA mutations (which can be cancerous) and to maintain healthy cellular and organ functions which results in benefits such as a healthy complexion.
Our body removes toxins via a few channels. The liver is the master organ of detoxification in the body. As a primary defence against daily toxins, our liver filters the blood, capturing toxins (mostly fat-soluble) and converting them into water-soluble metabolites so that they can be easily excreted from the body through its other detoxification organs. For the non-toxic water-soluble metabolites, they are also removed from the body through several ways—defecation via the large intestine, perspiration from the skin, breathing (the lungs and respiratory system), and urination from the urinary system. Today, modern living involves a daily exposure to substances that are toxic to our bodies, imposing a heavy load on the liver. Therefore, to ensure our well-being, having a healthy liver is critical.
Besides maintaining a healthy lifestyle and adhering to wholesome dietary patterns, the milk thistle extract has demonstrated benefits in defending the liver against toxins and oxidative stress. This is attributed to its powerful blend of liver-protecting compounds. Silymarin is the major active compound found in milk thistle extract. As a bioflavonoid and antioxidant, silymarin scavenges for damaging free radicals and supports liver functions. Silymarin has also shown to combat lipid peroxidation in the liver and this may help to promote healthy liver cells. Other examples of promising nutrients that support healthy liver cells and functions are phosphatidylcholine (PPC), S-adenosyl-methionine (SAMe) and glutathione.
In addition to the liver, the large intestine is also an important detoxification channel to maintain through regular defecation. If our stools are hard and stony, leading to constipation, toxins from the stools will accumulate in the colon and consequently, the body. To prevent this, consuming adequate amounts of dietary fiber (from vegetables, fruits, wholegrains, beans and legumes) and having regular hydration is essential. Probiotics (from probiotic foods) also help to enhance one’s intestinal peristaltic movements, ensuring that stools are properly and regularly discharged. Magnesium is another element that promotes regular defecation by relaxing the large intestines. Some examples of magnesium-rich sources are vegetables, fruits, cocoa, almonds and sunflower seeds. In addition to consumption, ensuring regular physical activity not only improves one’s bowel movements, but it also exercises other means of detoxification such as breathing and perspiration.
Amongst the ladies, healthy detoxification also involves having healthy and balanced hormonal levels. Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, bok choy, siew pak choy, choy sum, kale, brussels sprouts are essential. They help to guard against DNA mutation, and they enhance the genetic expression of important detoxifying enzymes (which neutralize many environmental toxins and also carcinogen). Besides having fiber, vitamins and minerals, cruciferous vegetables are also rich in indole-3 carbinol (I3C), sulforaphane, glucosinolates, di-indolyl-methane (DIM) and isothiocyanate. I3C, DIM and sulforaphane have the ability to promote a healthy estrogen metabolism which prevents the growth of estrogen-dependent tumors such as breast and ovarian cancers and other hormone-responsive cancers like prostate cancer.
By practising healthy dietary habits, engaging in regular physical activities, having adequate rest and taking the right nutrients, you will see your body working and serving you better. You will see the difference—a renewed, lighter and brighter you!