We all know that the liver is one of the body’s major detoxification organs. There’s tonne of “Liver Cleanse” & “Liver Detox” packages out there for a quick fix… But what is a sustainable approach?
How do we know if the liver is not working efficiently enough, what are the symptoms… what can be done on a regular basis to ensure this detox organ is doing its job? Keep reading ;)
Potential signs & symptoms:
Why is this happening?
There’s two phases into the liver’s role of detoxification:
Phase One - Substances undergo a process of oxidation, reduction and hydrolysis to chemically change their structure and make them more attracted to water (hydrophilic).
Substances can include:
Household cleaning products
Synthetic cosmetic chemicals
If not metabolised, detoxified and excreted efficiently, these toxic substances can accumulate within fat cells… That means if you’ve had excess weight for some time, it’s likely you’ve been holding onto many of these already. This could just be the cause of why you have been suffering for so long.
But wait.. before you drastically let go of any excess weight it’s important to ensure PHASE TWO of the liver is well prepared and ready. If not, you could be causing yourself more harm and potential liver injury.
So what to do?
Phase two of the liver function is extremely important to ensure toxic substances are excreted and not going back into circulation. This process is called conjugation and involves a variation of compounds to bind with the substances to increase solubility… basically it involves a life jacket for the toxic substances to peacefully be guided down the river of elimination: the bowel and kidneys.
Being guided “peacefully” is of importance here too. Once these substances have been metabolised during the Phase One process, they become highly reactive… They are free radicals. The longer they are in the liver and within circulation, the more damage to surrounding tissue is occurring. They need to be escorted out ASAP. This is where a diet rich in antiOXIDANTS and anti-inflammatory properties is crucial.
How do you know if something’s not right?
You could be someone who can excrete caffeine so quickly that you can have a double shot espresso at 10pm and be asleep by midnight… or on the other hand, have a 1/2 shot flat-white during lunch and it keeps you up all night! Sound familiar?
Scenario one could be that particular enzymes in phase one (specifically enzyme CYP1A2) is metabolising the substance (caffeine) too quickly to have a therapeutic effect in the body (a caffeine “hit”). This person’s phase two function may be working well enough that it is able to take hold of the caffeine and escort it out before this person is ready to jump into bed.
Note: smoking activates the enzyme CYP1A2… therefore smokers may need 3 or 4 times more coffee than a non-smoker to have the same “hit”.
Scenario two is simply the opposite situation. Phase one is working well, but phase two is too slow to catch on. Therefore caffeine, once having a therapeutic effect, is ready to be excreted, but phase two is not ready.. so caffeine goes back into circulation and this person is seeing episodes of stimulation throughout the afternoon, into the evening until eventually phase two has caught up and caffeine can be excreted.
This also applies for excess hormones - oestrogen rising in comparison with progesterone because phase two is unable to eliminate oestrogen and it’s being driven back into circulation, causing PMS, period pain, and other symptoms relating to hormonal imbalance.
Cholesterol - this should be broken down into bile salts to emulsify fats in the digestive tract.. if not, it goes back into circulation. Your body continues to produce cholesterol (a natural and much needed biological occurrence), and dietary sources of cholesterol (animal fats) are still being consumed… your levels go up.
So what to do?
If any of this resonates with you, all it takes is a simple blood test. A Liver Function test to be precise. This is usually done during a Full Blood Examination. Check in with your GP, Naturopath or any health practitioner that can refer you to get this done. Particular liver enzymes could be elevated suggesting there’s stress on the liver and a potential link as to why phase one or phase two may be under-active.
Protein: Both phase one and phase two require amino-acids from protein to function. So starting with a dietary intake of adequate protein is crucial. Ensuring that your digestive system is breaking down protein into amino-acids is just as important (think lemon juice or ACV to stimulate hydrochloric acid in the stomach.. and reducing stress wherever possible)
Phase one activators:
B Vitamins: B2, B3, B6, B9, B12
St Johns wort
St Mary’s thistle
Note: Activating phase one can reduce the effect of medications and cause excess free radicals within the body. It is often suggested to separate these particular activators from taking medications by at least 2hrs. Always check with your health professional if using medication.
Phase one inhibitors:
**Grape seed extract
*Note: Certain medications from this class cause a reduction in enzyme activity… always check with a GP or health professional if taking medication.
**Note: Ingredients can inhibit some enzyme activity, but not all phase one enzymes. Always check with your GP or health professional if taking medication.
Phase two activators:
B Vitamins: B2, B5, B6, B9
Alpha lipoic acid
Phase two inhibitors:
NSAIDs (Nurofen etc)
Low protein diet
Once you’ve rearranged your fridge and pantry to include foods rich antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, proteins, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels, citrus fruits, leafy greens, raw nuts and seeds….. It’s important to ensure your elimination channels are working too ;)
Drink plenty of filtered water
Increase fibre-rich foods
Reduce exposure to toxic substances
Reduce stress where possible
Where to start??!!
Get in touch! That’s what I’m here for :)
The point of a sustainable detox is that can be incorporated into your life without any drastic measures. It’s not a one-fix-wonder, it’s an ongoing, adaptive lifestyle…. A lifestyle that optimises your general health and wellbeing while eliminating symptoms that you’ve been suffering with for too long.
Any questions? Get in touch!
From me to you…