Detoxification: A Master Key To Health & Vitality

by Varsha Rathod, MD

The body detoxifies constantly and this is an energy and nutrient expensive process. In medicine, “detoxification” refers to the process of biologically transforming toxic chemicals into less toxic and water soluble compounds that can safely exit the body through sweating, breathing, urinating and defecating. This process of biotransformation occurs at many sites in the body including: the liver, intestinal lining, lung lining, kidneys and the skin.

Biotransformation requires a host of enzymes that actually makes the toxin a little more potent, because it attaches “sticky tape” to the toxin. This is called Phase 1 detoxification. This modified toxin can then go crazy and stick to cells and protein, making them unable to perform efficiently thereby leading to dysfunction and disease.

The body has a beautiful system of locating Phase 1 enzymes in close proximity to Phase 2 chemicals, which are derived from the colorful foods of the plant kingdom. These include some amino acids, sulfur, glutathione, flavones, cyanidins, etc. When these sticky particles are coated with phase 2 chemicals, they become much less toxic and more water soluble and can therefore exit the body efficiently. If damage has been done, the colorful flavones etc. in food can neutralize this damage via its antioxidant function and thereby repair tissue. The key point here is that in order to detoxify, your body needs to get its information and processing materials from the food and water you consume.

We now pose the question: What does our body detoxify? It is not just harmful chemicals and pollutants that we need to detoxify, but the everyday by-products of our metabolism, hormonal end products, breakdown of tissue proteins, and the residue of inflammatory processes. In addition, this system has to cope with the foreign toxins we inhale, eat, and absorb via contact with our skin. It must also cope with information taken in by our sense organs and our emotions- which affects our stress response via the Adrenal system. These reactions often lead to poor choices in our diet and can facilitate addictive behavior that further jeopardizes the detoxification process.

So what can do we do to aid the process of detoxification?

Provide the entire spectrum of colors through a wide variety of seasonal and organic vegetables, fruits, legumes and seeds. This can be done by eating a whole food, plant based diet with minimal food allergens and at least 40 grams of fiber and ample filtered water. This will help Phase 1 and 2 of detoxification and with the process of elimination.
Provide ample nutrients in the form of B-vitamins, minerals, fat soluble vitamins and key amino acids from both food and supplements to help with Phase 1 detoxification. A premium multi-vitamin will serve this purpose.

Avoid exposure to toxic inhalants, such as pesticides, household cleaners, insect killers and garden products, perfumes and sprays, creams and beauty products with parabens and other un-pronounceable names, packaged foods with coloring agents, preservatives, anti-fungal products, drugs, heavy metals and hormones. These create more stress for your system because they are difficult to detoxify.

Provide enough movement through exercise and breathing techniques that facilitates lymphatic flow and sweating, as well as an opportunity for contemplation.

Find a method such as meditation, prayer or journaling that can help you identify and release toxic emotions, thoughts and toxic relationships that impair your healing process. I like doing some form of this exercise daily.
Practice this daily routine in conjunction with a detoxification program that your physician or health care provider can help you with. I personally like to implement such a program with the change of seasons.

No matter where you are in your healing journey, implementation of this program will not cause harm and can only help. Many patients with chronic illnesses will need additional help to what is outlined here. If you are interested in a Functional Medicine approach to wellness please call Preventive Medicine at 314-997-5403.

Dr. Varsha Rathod is a board certified Rheumatologist and Internist. She practices at Preventive Medicine in the Westport Plaza Area of St. Louis, MO. The practice has focused on a combination of traditional and holistic medicine since 1967. For more articles and information about alternative solutions please visit www.preventivemedicinestl.com, call Preventive Medicine at 314-997-5403 or attend one of our free monthly health seminars.