Much is written about detox at the start of the year, probably because festive celebrations and hangovers bring this important job sharply into focus. It’s a complicated subject though, which can quickly become overwhelming. So here we’ve put together a very simple explanation of detoxification, with only the bits that you need to know and nothing else.
1) Toxins arrive in the body – Toxins come from many different places; from air, food, water, around you in your environment and some are even made inside your own body - toxins are everywhere! You’d think that once toxins have made their way into your body the best thing to do with them would be to just get rid of them. And that in essence is what happens. Unfortunately though, it’s not quite as simple as just dumping them in the bin – the liver first has to transform the toxins into different forms that can be safely eliminated from the body.
2) Toxins are transformed into more harmful compounds (phase I) - Once the toxins have arrived in your body, the liver has the job of transforming them into a different form. This happens in a two-phase process. And it may sound crazy but the first phase actually transforms the toxins into a slightly more harmful compound. Vitamin B3 (niacin) is an important nutrient for this step. Antioxidants can help to protect the body from damage at this stage. The traditional herb, Milk Thistle, is also particularly beneficial. Brightly coloured fruits and vegetables are also packed full of antioxidants and that’s why fresh juices can be helpful when you’re doing a detox.
3) Toxins join onto another molecule and are made safe (phase II) - The second phase is absolutely crucial as this is the part where the toxins are made safe. In phase II, the liver joins the toxin onto another molecule, which makes it safe enough to eliminate from the body. The liver needs a vast amount of ingredients for phase II to work quickly and efficiently. These include antioxidants, amino acids (from protein foods) such as methionine and cysteine, B vitamins, folic acid (5-MTHF (5-methyl-tetrahydrofolate)), choline, magnesium, vitamins C & E, zinc, selenium and copper. The second phase also requires a lot of energy. That’s why an increase in energy is a common benefit of doing a detox.
4) Toxins are flushed out of your system – This is the part where the toxins are actually flushed out of your system. This may be via your breath, sweat, urine or faeces. That’s why it’s crucial to make sure you go to the toilet regularly, breathe deeply, exercise (sweat) and drink plenty of water. This last step is a critical part of the whole process so it’s particularly important to make sure you have plenty of fibre in your diet to ensure regular toilet habits. And that’s why deep forms of relaxation such as yoga which promote deep breathing practices can actually help the whole process of detoxification to work better.
There you go; detoxification in 4 simple steps. All you need to know and nothing else.