Detoxification Facts and Myths Revealed
Detox for Optimal Health

Detoxification for Optimal Health

The human body was perfectly designed to handle normal exposure to natural toxins. However, there is nothing normal or natural about the constant exposure we experience to heavy metals, air and water pollutants, medication, processed foods, preservatives, pesticides, and fertilizers.

What exactly does it mean to detox? How does it work? Who needs to detox?

What does it mean to "Detox"?

In the medical field, the word detox often refers to the process of weaning someone off medication; in alternative healthcare, the word detox refers to the cleansing of toxins built up in the body. Conventional medicine routinely discredits these types of detoxification programs as unnecessary, pointing to the natural and efficient processes in the body as being perfectly designed to detoxify itself; we agree with that assertion. The liver and supporting organs do a great job of detoxifying our body – under normal circumstances.

Unfortunately, the onslaught of pollutants, medications, metals, processed foods, preservatives, household cleaners, pesticides, and fertilizers hinders the body's natural detoxification process, making it beneficial to detox for optimal health. When this heavy exposure to toxins is combined with inadequate nutrient requirements, poor overall health is the result.


Toxins? Toxic load?

What are toxins? The body is adept at handling toxins but...

Literally speaking, toxins are biological in nature and toxicants are chemical, but both act as poisons to the body. For ease of understanding, we will be referring to both chemical and biological poisons as toxins. Ideally, toxins are processed by the liver (other organs play a role as well – we will address that later) and eliminated from the body. The liver is a powerhouse of detoxification; over 300 chemical processes are taking place in your body at any given time as your liver works to remove various toxins and waste products from your system.

Under the best of circumstances, your body could handle moderate toxin exposure. However, modern life, nutrient depletion in food, poor dietary choices, and exposure to unprecedented amounts of toxins prevent the optimal detoxification of the body. This creates an overwhelming toxic load that can leave you feeling less than great; a higher-than-normal toxic load can lead to disease and generally poor health.

Why detox while dieting?

When these toxins aren't processed efficiently, they get stored in the body, and they have an affinity for fatty tissue – they get deposited in fat tissues and fatty areas, like the brain. Having a high toxic load and dieting can release those toxins into your system at a high rate and create symptoms like headaches, body aches, and fatigue as your body works to eliminate everything as fast as it is being released. A proper detoxification system will help support natural detoxification pathways and make this transition faster and easier. The body needs certain nutrients to support the different phases of detoxification.

Even if your diet is clean, the odds of getting the nutrients necessary to properly detox are slim, especially while dieting, as calories are being cut. Supplementation is an absolute necessity and a detoxification protocol may be your best chance of seeing optimal results. A major cause of 'diet plateau' is the lack of detoxification, making it a must before and during the diet.

Fat Soluble vs. Water Soluble Toxins

Physiological Phases of Detox

The body processes toxins in 3 phases. All 3 phases must be addressed and supported or you will not properly detoxify.

The liver is the primary detoxification organ; it filters blood coming directly from the intestines and prepares toxins for elimination from the body. Significant amounts of detoxification also occur in the intestine, kidney, lungs, and brain, with phase I, II, and III reactions occurring throughout the rest of the body to a lesser degree.

Phase 1 is the Enzymatic Transformation phase.

Most toxins are fat-soluble and tend to build up in the fatty tissues of the body, making them harder to remove. This phase transforms fat-soluble toxins into easier-to-handle water-soluble toxins.

Phase 2 is the Enzymatic Conjugation phase.

In phase 2, the water-soluble products from phase 1 are attached to compounds that allow further processing to make them easier to excrete out of the body.

Phase 3 involves the elimination of the transformed, bound toxins from phases 1 and 2.

These three steps or phases of removing undesirable or harmful lipid-soluble compounds (toxins!) are performed by three sets of cellular proteins or enzymes, called the phase I (transformation) and phase II (conjugation or attachment) enzymes, and the phase III (transport) proteins.

Finally, WHAT does not qualify as an effective detox?

Many detox programs and products that claim to have detoxification benefits don't. Unless all phases are addressed, toxins will not be eliminated and can make matters worse – if phases 1 and 2 are not managed appropriately, a patient can end up feeling worse than they did before detoxing.

For instance, during phase 1, toxins are made more water-soluble to prepare them for phase 2 processing. These phase 1 products are now free radicals. If you address phase 1, but not phase 2, those free radicals are "free" to wreak havoc on the body.

Furthermore, some detox programs like cleanses, enemas, and foot baths are simply too far "downstream" to get any real detoxification benefits. Address all 3 phases of physiological detoxification to get optimal results.