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Nutritional Detoxification Insights: What I Wish I Learned in ‘Dietitian School’.































In my recent Integrative Functional Nutrition training (2021-2023), I have discovered a new passion for all things detoxification! What it really is and why it matters.

In all my years of conventional dietitian training, the concept of nutritional detoxification is surprisingly one that did not cross my path. It remained a subject of the realm of fad diets and quick fixes.


Why Detoxification Matters

A toxin is defined as “a chemical or mixture that may injure or increase a risk of injury to the health of an organism”.


It is estimated that the average adult has 300 toxins in their body. We can be exposed to toxins in our environment, such as heavy metals, organic pesticides and pollutants, in our food, air and water. As well as endogenous toxins which are produced by the body as part of normal biological processes. Our body is designed to eliminate toxins, but in today’s world we are simply exposed to more than our body can handle.

There is a growing body of evidence that links toxin exposure to chronic conditions.


It is said that we are now exposed to more toxins in a single day than our grandparents were in a lifetime. When I think of this, I imagine my grandmother as a child in the cereal aisle of a grocery store with the choice of perhaps 3 or 4 whole grain cereals compared to a modern cereal aisle with eighty times the number of choices, most of which are not whole grain.


Understanding the Process of Nutrition Detoxification

Detoxification is a process called ‘bio-transformation’ that involves the removal of toxins from the body. It comprises three stages known as Phase I, Phase II and Phase III. And here's why I am so passionate about detox: it is highly dependent on nutrition support for optimal functioning. What I call ‘the right nutrients, the right timing’.


Toxins are stored in fat tissue, making them ‘fat soluble’. In order to be removed from the body they require the transformation from fat soluble to water soluble substances. This process is highly intricate and complex.


Phase I Bioactivation

In the first phase, the toxin is modified from its fat soluble form. This happens primarily in a pathway called cytochrome p450 (Cyp) and involves hundreds of key enzymes. This phase is dependent upon key nutrients including vitamins B2, B3, B6, B12, folic acid, glutathione and plant flavonoids.


Phase II Conjugation

In the second phase, the toxin is further modified by enzymes and converted to a water soluble form. This phase generates what is known as ‘reactive intermediates’ which can actually be more toxic than the toxin itself. This phase is dependent upon key nutrients including methionine, cysteine, magnesium, glutathione, glycine, taurine, sulphur, vitamins B 5 and B12, vitamin C, vitamin E, glutamine, folic acid and choline.


Phase III Transport

In the final phase, the modified molecules are excreted by elimination pathways such as urine, bile, stool or sweating. This phase requires healthy elimination processes. It can be aided by gut supportive plants, binders, natural chelators, lifestyle remedies and adequate hydration.


All of these phases work synergistically. In addition, energy is critical to support the process. This means we need healthy cells and mitochondrial function for the production of energy, which is also a highly nutrient dependent process requiring B vitamins, magnesium, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, selenium, copper and zinc.


HOW TO KNOW IF A NUTRITIONAL DETOX IS FOR YOU

Determining if you may benefit from a nutritional detoxification involves paying attention to symptoms in the body. In functional medicine, there is an MSQ- or My Symptom Questionnaire tool to quantify the degree of symptom severity.


Common symptoms include persistent fatigue, low levels of energy, chronic inflammation and joint pain, digestive issues, brain fog, impaired sleep, headaches, skin issues like eczema or psoriasis and inability to lose weight. Conditions showing up like autoimmunity, chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia may warrant a detox strategy.


WHAT A DETOX CAN DO FOR YOU

From my own nutritional detoxification experience, I went from feeling drained and exhausted all the time to living with energy and vitality beyond what I could have imagined.


The Top 10 Benefits of A Nutritional Detox


1. Improved Digestion: nutritional detoxification can significantly improve gut health and digestive symptoms which helps to better absorb vital nutrients

2. Increased Energy Levels: by eliminating waste from the body and restoring vital nutrients to all systems, energy production improves

3. Enhanced immune function: detoxification upgrades the immune system, by removing harmful substances, the immune system can function more efficiently

4. Supports Liver Function: the liver is the primary detoxification organ, and a nutritional detoxification supports its ability to function optimally

5. Reduced Inflammation: by eliminating inflammatory foods and substances, inflammation decreases with less aches, pains and symptoms of chronic conditions

6. Clearer Skin: as gut health and inflammation improves, so does skin health

7. Better Mental Clarity and Focus: by removing negative substances that impact brain function and providing a supply of nervous system nutrients

8. Balanced Hormones: a nutritional detoxification balances hormones by reducing the intake of neuroendocrine disruptors which mimic hormones and disrupt cell signaling

9. Release of stubborn weight: as all the systems of the body begin to heal and repair, hormones begin to balance and nutrients are restored, the body releases inflammatory weight

10. Enhanced Overall Well-Being: many people report feeling healthier, lighter, more vibrant and an overall improved sense of well-being


Conclusion

The good new is that there are steps you can take to give your body what I call a total health reset. I highly recommend working with a trained professional in nutritional detoxification over a DIY detox plan. A science-backed detoxification program will provide you with a step by step protocol, a balanced nutrition plan with detox recipes, supportive supplements including gentle binders and plant substances and lifestyle suggestions to support the elimination pathways. Stay tuned for more information on my 28-Day comprehensive program.

You will love a whole, new you!

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