Body detox system
Body & toxins
Detox system -
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
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
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
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
metabolites, microbial toxins
industrial, vehicular, agricultural, food additives,
pharmaceuticals, household chemicals and bio-contaminants,
plastics and other xenobiotics
PHASE I Catalysis
Carried out by large group of enzymes,
often referred to as
cytochrome P-450-dependant mixed
subjecting toxins to:
removes hydrogen or electron)
oxygen, adds hydrogen or electron), or
DEGRADATION in water (hydrolysis)
With all the hoopla, most toxins are only
chemically modified, so that they can be picked up and disposed of in
Phase II detoxification.
Phase I toxin activation
produces free radicals and naked electrons, creating
reactive particles like
hydroxyl radicals. These damage cells,
tissues and organs and accelerate aging, unless neutralized by
antioxidant nutrients and enzymes.
PHASE II Conjugation
enzymes, activated toxins bind with special
SULFUR BASED: Glutathione, PAPS, inorganic sulfur
AMINO ACIDS: Glycine, Glutamine and Taurine
GLUCURONIC ACID, made by the body from glucose
ACETYL group (CH3CO)
usually forming less toxic, polar, more water
soluble conjugates, suitable for
Conjugated toxins and toxin metabolites
are transported through the bloodstream and excreted:
in urine (through the kidneys),
with bile into intestine/feces,
through the skin (sweat), or
exhaled through the lungs
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
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
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.
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.
butane, hexane, hydrazine,
formaldehyde, acetaldehydes (from
Candida), vinyl chloride...
chlorinated water, cleaning
terpens, nitrophenols, carbon
antibiotics, local anesthetics, plasticizers (phthalates), drugs...
electrophiles (reactive compounds with affinity to
anthracene, bromobenzenes, chloroforms...
acid, aspirin), alcohols, steroid hormones...
heavy metals, aromatic steroids...
insecticides, plant hormones, drugs...
(including bisphenol A),
plasticizers, amines, food additives, many drugs...
serotonin, PABA, sulfa drugs...
This is only a tiny fraction of
xenobiotics and endogenous
compounds metabolized by the detox system. Think of some
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
entire system at the risk of
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
For instance, many toxins undergo transformation to
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
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
Chloral hydrate Adducts
Inefficient conversion of aldehydes to acids - which is their
primary detoxification route - is likely to increase their
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
nutrients, including those necessary to safeguarded it from
┆ NUTRITION ┆