Detoxification is the January buzz word. Despite it becoming a common notion, the meaning of the word ‘‘detoxification’’ remains confusing for many. Some believe, it implies a weight-loss cleanse or a one-off juice fast. Others think it’s nothing more than a clever marketing ploy.
The truth is, detoxification is an essential metabolic function of the body which goes on at all times. It’s the process of turning toxic compounds we ingest, inhale, absorb or produce into non-toxic metabolites and eliminating them from the body.
There is no denying the fact, that we live in a toxic world. Every single day we come in contact with dozens of harmful substances. Besides obvious suspects (e.g. industrial waste or tobacco smoke), household cleaning products, plastic storage containers, treated furniture upholstery and printers can be sources of various toxins. Even food can contain substances which require detoxification (e.g. charred meats, pesticide/insecticide residue, caffeine and alcohol). Medication is yet another “common offender”. For example, paracetamol, a widely-used pain relieve drug, must be detoxified in the liver and large doses can damage this vital organ. Finally, by-products of our own metabolism (e.g. lactic acid/spent hormones) and pathogenic microorganisms residing in the gut can add to the overall toxic burden.
Fortunately, the body has a sophisticated protective mechanism which allows us to deal with toxins. The detoxification system (comprising liver, kidney, gut, skin and lungs) helps to neutralize and eliminate harmful compounds through a series of well-orchestrated steps. If this process becomes impaired or dysregulated, undesirable substances can accumulate in cells and tissues causing health issues (e.g. headaches, skin conditions, unexplained weight gain, depression, chronic fatigue, hormonal imbalances and autoimmune diseases).
Detoxification efficiency can be affected by:
- genetics: detox capacity is largely determined by the genes.
- levels of exposure: those exposed to lots of toxins deplete the levels of body’s own detoxifiers (e.g. glutathione);
- nutrient deficiencies: detoxification relies on certain nutrients to work well. If your diet does not supply them, your body’s ability to get rid of toxins becomes impaired.
If you frequently experience the above-mentioned symptoms and are concerned about your detox capacity, you can get guidance from a qualified nutritional practitioner who will answer your questions and develop a comprehensive protocol to address your needs.