You read everywhere these days that for beautiful skin you need to do a ‘detox’. Well, your body is always detoxifying; you wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t! However, the lifestyle choices you make impact how efficiently the liver and other organs involved in daily detoxification are able to do their critical work.
There is so much misinformation out there about detoxification, so let’s clear that up.
Detoxification is essentially a process of transformation. Substances that, were they to accumulate in the body would be harmful to you, are converted into less harmful versions in order to be safely eliminated or used for another purpose.
The liver takes on the bulk of this detoxification work. If it is overwhelmed, and the mechanisms of detoxification and elimination are compromised, every process inside of us that creates health and energy can be affected.
The liver detoxification pathways require nutrients to function, so dietary choices can influence how efficiently each phase of detoxification is able to proceed. For the first stage of detoxification numerous nutrients, including B vitamins, are essential. Antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E and carotenoids are also important, and these are found in colourful plant foods. For phase two liver detoxification pathways, we require specific amino acids and sulphur. Sulphur can be obtained from Brassica family vegetables, eggs, onion and garlic, and we get our amino acids from protein foods.
The liver makes enzymes that are responsible for the transformation of each substance, and the rate of production of these essential enzymes determines how quickly each substance is processed. But it’s not just about ensuring our liver detoxification pathways have the nutrients they need to function properly.
There is a group of substances I lovingly label “liver loaders”. They include alcohol, trans fats, refined sugars, caffeine and synthetic substances, such as those found in pesticides and conventional skin, laundry and cleaning products. Minimising our intake or exposure to these can help to reduce the load on the liver. The liver also has to deal with substances the body makes itself such as estrogen and cholesterol. When our detoxification pathways are congested, these substances might only be partially detoxified (changed) and, if so, they will then be recycled back into the blood (from which they came). The recycling of estrogen can contribute to hormonal imbalances, which can lead to a variety of challenging symptoms.
Be honest with yourself about the ‘liver loaders’ in your life. Focus on taking good care of yourself and nourishing yourself, rather than on what you may need to consume less of; as that in itself can feel overwhelming or exhausting and just another thing to do.
Dr Libby will be speaking in Hamilton on the 22nd of August. The Hormone Factor event will explore ageing, hormones, beauty and biochemistry, 7pm – 9pm at the Claudelands Conference & Exhibition Centre - Heaphy Rooms Corner of Brooklyn Road & Heaphy Terrace. Tickets are $39.99 from www.drlibby.com/events