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Body detox system
Body & toxins - Oxidation - Detox system - Nutrients - Protocols
Why is it that some days you feel like you're on the mountain top, and some others - for no apparent reason - you feel sluggish, depressed, weak? Chances are, those days when you don't feel great, your body can't handle its toxic load satisfactorily. Plainly put, it is poisoned because your detox system is not up to the task of protecting your body from the toxins you are exposed to.
Anything that enters your body has to be appropriately processed: nutrients are converted to their useable forms, what is redundant gets separated for elimination, and toxins - both, those originated externally, and those created during the metabolic process - have to be either neutralized, or safely eliminated. This is the job of a specialized system of enzymes and compounds that form body's detox system.
What is it that constitutes detox system? Most of us think of the liver, but it is more complicated than that: process of detoxification is taking place throughout the body. It is both, incredibly complex, and surprisingly efficient in its seeming randomness. Most body cells produce detox enzymes to some extent, with the detox enzyme systems present in the intestine, kidneys, brain and other localities. The fact that they are there implicates that all these body tissues and organs need direct protection from toxins, and can be injured if it is not efficient.
The liver is merely body's main detox site, with the highest concentration of cells producing powerful protective enzymes helping to detoxify the blood (it also filters blood from larger impurities and bacteria). Most important part of the process of detoxification concerns transforming fat-soluble (lipophilic) toxins to water-soluble (hydrophilic) through so called Phase I and Phase II, so that they can be excreted trough the urine and bile. This process is often referred to as toxin biotransformation.
Aside from being much fewer in numbers, water-soluble toxins are by their nature easier to neutralize and mobilize to the channels of elimination in the predominantly aqueous body environment. In addition, they are generally less capable of penetrating lipid-based cellular and other membranes (except for very small molecules, that can penetrate them by diffusion), which is primarily how toxins get to harm the body.
Most lipid-soluble toxins in Phase I undergo some kind of oxidative reaction (hydroxylation, epoxidation, deamination, dealkylation, sulfoxidation, dehalogenation, etc.). Relatively few of them undergo chemical reduction, because it requires lack of oxygen. Many toxins that are oxidized are either hydroxylated (turned to alcohols by the addition of hydroxyl group, and then oxidized to aldehydes) or epoxidized (activated by addition of oxygen). Aldehydes and epoxides are then acidified through Phase II conjugations, with glutathione conjugation handling particularly high number of toxin metabolites (some aldehydes can also be directly acidified, w/o conjugation).
For the most part, Phase I detoxication does not neutralize toxins; in fact, the modified, or activated toxins it produces can be more, or much more toxic than in their original form. For instance, aldehydes are generally more toxic than their alcohol precursors, and so are dihydro compounds resulting from epoxidation. It is therefore critically important that Phase II response matches the output of Phase I detoxication.
Within this overall balance requirement, each of various detox pathways has to be working efficiently in order to provide the body with needed protection from toxins.
Following table lists some of the toxins handled by body's detox pathways.
This is only a tiny fraction of xenobiotics and endogenous compounds metabolized by the detox system. Think of some
100,000 registered commercial chemicals,
plus naturally occurring toxins. Hundreds to thousands of them are inside you, all of them xenobiotic, most of them toxic to your body. That only begins to paint the picture of the enormous task that your detox system is facing each and every day.
The detox pathways partly overlap in their detox activity, so that somewhat inefficient action in one of them is usually compensated through other pathways. However, significant
any one of them puts the
Detox system is not strictly programmed, nor controlled; depending on the circumstance, same toxins can undergo different reactions, and some of the outcomes may not be good for the body. Chances for such faulty, unhealthy chemistry to occur increase with one or more pathways becoming inefficient, or even blocked. This may happen as a result of the combined effect of toxic overexposure, nutritional deficiencies and/or genetic malfunction (such as failure to produce certain detox enzyme).
For instance, many toxins undergo transformation to alcohols, then aldehydes, to be either converted to carboxylic acid via aldehyde oxidase enzyme and degraded to carbon dioxide and water, or conjugated by glutathione and eliminated in urine as mercapturic acid. If flavin (vitamin B2) dependant aldehyde oxidase enzyme is inefficient due to, say, B2 deficiency, or deficiency of molybdenum or iron it needs as co-factors, aldehydes can accumulate in the body. They are generally toxic - often very toxic - and can cause variety of symptoms, from flushing, numbness, tingling and cold extremities, to formaldehyde sensitivity, fatigue (from the mitochondrial injury), immune dysfunction, protein cross-linking and vasculitis, possibly resulting in seizures and brain damage (Chemical Sensitivity, W. Rea).
Excess aldehydes can metabolically reverse to alcohols, contributing to "foggy brain" syndrome, often seen in chemically sensitive, or causing over-sensitivity to alcoholic beverages. Overwhelming alcohol pathway now may result in metabolic switch to forming chloral hydrate, the same chemical used for Mickey Finn "knock-out" drops, or in increased epoxidation, possibly elevating toxic epoxides, like dihydro compounds that can cause necrosis, or have mutagenic (genetic change adversely affecting health of future generations), carcinogenic and/or teratogenic (directly affecting fetus) effect.
Both, toxic aldehydes and epoxides can form adducts - damaging stable bonds with cellular molecular structures, including proteins and DNA.
Inefficient conversion of aldehydes to acids - which is their primary detoxification route - is likely to increase their conjugation with glutathione and cysteine, lowering availability of these two crucial detox compounds.
These are only a few of many possible adverse health effects resulting from inefficiency of a single detox enzyme, or pathway. Of course, it makes it worse if your toxic exposure to aldehyde-forming elements, like alcohol beverages, formaldehyde, ethylene glycol, methanol, Candida albicans, acetone from the air or produced by the body due to low-carbohydrate diet, bio-amines from foods like chocolate and fermented cheeses, or stress hormone adrenaline, among others, is elevated.
You can see now how important for your health is that your detox system functions properly.
And it can't do its job unless it gets needed nutrients, including those necessary to safeguarded it from excessive oxidative damage.
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