Updated: Dec 5, 2020
“Given half the chance, the body will heal itself, by itself”
Our bodies are self-healing machines. Our bodies are constantly striving for a state of homeostasis. Sometimes, we need to understand what the body is asking for in order to achieve that.
The liver is a detoxification organ, so why do we need to detox a detoxing organ?
Whether we need a liver detox will vary depending on who you ask. I personally think everyone would benefit from giving their liver some love. Maybe every single person doesn't need a full protocol to detoxify, but some do. If you have any chronic health concerns or conditions, then a liver detox may help you heal faster...and having a low functioning liver may prevent you from healing at all.
Our world is not the same world your parents or grandparents grew up in. Did you know that in 10 minutes, you are exposed to more chemicals that your grandparents were in their entire lifetime? Back then, we didn’t have such extreme and such constant exposure to environmental toxins like we do today. Food additives, heavy metals, pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, artificial flavorings and additives, over consumption of GMOs, omega-6 fatty acids, trans-fats, sugar and processed foods are causative factors in inadequate liver detoxification.
We are essentially putting so many toxins into our bodies that our livers are having an extremely difficult time properly eliminating them, like it was designed to do. We face an age where toxicity levels in our environment and thus our bodies is at an all-time high.
Giving your liver some extra TLC is essential. Without this organ, we cannot survive. Most people are familiar with the toxicity that alcohol can cause to the body, particularly in contributing to cirrhosis of the liver. But are you familiar with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease? It used to be, that only alcoholics would push their liver to such an extreme that they would develop cirrhosis of the liver, or scarring (fibrosis) of the liver. Every time we put our liver through the ringer, it attempts to repair itself forming scar tissue. Non-alcoholics’ fatty liver is cirrhosis of the liver of someone who did not excessively drink alcohol.
So what’s happening in their liver and why is it causing the same problem that alcohol does?
It’s being overloaded with toxins, not from alcohol, but from somewhere else. Where? Mainly from processed foods. Quite honestly, it blows my mind. The food we eat today is causing just as much harm as alcohol, a blatant and notoriously toxic substance.
We eat more processed foods than ever before in history, and the food industry likes it that way. There are addictive substances that are highly toxic to our bodies in processed foods, like sugar, salt, refined flours, and trans-fat. Not only that, but most processed foods contain one or more of the foods most likely to cause sensitivities or allergies, and have been connected to leaky gut – gluten, dairy, soy, corn and eggs.
Not only that, but processed foods contain high amounts of omega-6 fatty acids, which we need in small doses, but which, even in moderate doses create inflammation in the body. We would get the amount of omega-6 fatty acids the body requires if we ate only whole foods, so every bite of a processed food is pushing that upper limit.
This is not to scare you or make you feel guilty! We all eat processed foods—it’s part of life. This is to help gain a better understanding of foods that cause inflammation, may be contributing to toxic overload and causing your body to lack the functionality to heal on its own.
Now do you see why a liver detox is not such a bad idea, no matter how well you eat or how little alcohol you may drink?
What we can do to lighten the load, but why it still may not be enough
We are also seeing an increase of toxic overload in the liver coming from the environment.
We can mitigate the stress on our liver by choosing to buy organic vegetables & fruit, pasture raised poultry & eggs, grass-fed, grass-finished beef, and wild fish and by avoiding sugar, processed foods and fried foods, choosing clean, natural household products, cosmetics, toiletries, laundry detergents and the like -- but even if you are consistently doing all of those things, there are still chemicals in our water supply and in the air that we breathe. Not to mention they’re found in the materials used for building homes, furniture, cars, appliances, and nearly every product we buy.
This is not to scare you! I’ll admit, when I learned the depth of this, I was terrified.
But it was a good thing that I was beginning to understand these implications.
I was beginning to understand what could be preventing us from being well.
And now I know the steps to undo these implications.
There is a way to get the toxins out of the body— that is, to ensure proper liver detoxification. Unfortunately, this is where most people make mistakes when it comes to healing. Generally, we turn to a process of adding things in to heal— turmeric, ginger, garlic and other healing herbs (or medications) without figuring out what we need to take out to enable the body to heal by detoxification.
Here’s the thing: we can’t just take an herb or supplement, say activated charcoal, and think, its going to bind to all the bad stuff and take it out. That could be true for a specific scenario. But if our detox pathways are blocked, the toxins will just end up circulating in our system, making us even sicker than before. We must know what to eliminate in order to allow the detoxification pathways to do what they were designed to do.
What conventional medicine says
Now, in all honesty, if you speak to a conventional medical physician, they may tell you that you don’t need to do any extra detoxification in the body. That the liver detoxifies everything and anything additional to help it out is just unnecessary.
But functional medical doctors will disagree. The world is different than it was 100 years ago—heck its different than it was 30 years ago! The number and volume of insecticides, herbicides, pesticides, and chemical additives that are sprayed onto crops or added to food items, and linger in the air that we breathe are increasing every year. There are heavy metals everywhere, which once inside the body, hide in our bone and fat cells (the cells that just so happen to renew the most infrequently). The household cleaners, nail polish, cosmetics, lotions, potions and dyes we use all have hundreds of chemicals that our body isn’t used to encountering.
It takes a lot for the body to recognize these molecules are foreign objects, if it can at all.
That brings me to another key point to acknowledge. The body will always want to detox a foreign substance before detoxing a substance it produces itself (i.e. cholesterol…leading to elevated blood cholesterol, or excess of hormones, which can also lead to a lot of problems, like blood clots, autoimmune disorders etc.). This is one reason we so commonly see estrogen dominance in women. The liver is so inundated with detoxifying substances from alcohol, medications, the food we eat and the environment, that it cannot keep up with the substances made in the body, which if not excreted, can pose serious harm just like those foreign toxins. This is also why they began marketing progesterone only birth control pills.
Liver detoxification can be a great way to get the body back to optimal functionality, even for people who don’t drink alcohol and limit processed foods, because truly, there is no way to completely avoid the chemicals listed above.
The gut microbiome in detoxification
The gut microbiome is a huge player in detoxification, because it contains billions of microbes that form what the body can utilize from the food we eat, for instance, serotonin. On the contrary, if the microbial balance is off, they will form substances that inflame the body. But even when gut microbiome is perfectly balanced, we still encounter issues if the liver is overloaded and its detox pathways become blocked.
Phases of Detoxification
The liver is responsible for three main mechanisms. We have all heard of the liver detoxifying, or processing all things we intake: air, food, liquid, supplements etc. The liver is also responsible for storing and manufacturing as well…so in short, it is working extremely hard! In fact, it is working 24-7.
The liver has three phases of detoxification.
Phase I of liver detox is called bioactivation and includes producing enzymes which will check each molecule to see whether it needs to be sent to the bloodstream to be used, or if it needs to be excreted. In this “tagging” process, the toxins become water soluble and even more toxic to the body, if they are not able to be eliminated properly, they will recirculate the system as this “tagged” super toxin.
In phase II, if all goes according to plan, a super antioxidant called glutathione will make these toxins less dangerous, and will push toxins through five different detox pathways to be excreted by the kidneys and the bowels.
A very important component to liver detoxification, and the reason many people feel awful during a liver detoxification is ensuring the liver drainage pathways are open and the bile duct is clear. If these two components are clogged, the toxins will simply circulate the system, with no where to go. In fact, the number one issue of autoimmune disorders is that the liver / bile duct isn’t working properly.
We must have regular urination & bowel movements, ensure the lymphatic and glymphatic (brain drainage) systems is flowing, as well as making sure we are sweating. For lymphatic support, we rely on exercise, massage and diaphragmatic breathing, as it does not have a pump like the circulatory system does.
Have you experienced liver detoxification? Do you feel you're up for the task? Let me know in the comments!
I am currently working on a Liver Detox Guide! If you are signed up for my newsletter, you will be the first to receive it!