Monday, 30 January 2017

Safe and scientific ways to support healthy detoxification by Sophie Tully from Igennus

Detox diets seem to grow in popularity each year and with the amazing array of health benefits and fast results often promised it is hardly a surprise, particularly at this post-Christmas indulgence time of year. However, before you embark on a costly and likely gruelling regime it’s important to note that, to date, there is very little hard evidence to support the benefits of specific detox regimes on toxin levels or overall health; indeed, in some cases these regimes can be harmful or even fatal. When it comes to the potential benefits of a detox diet there is one major scientific flaw in the promotional basis of most of these regimes – we do not only detox over a 5 day, painful, juice only period but this process is occurring 24/7, 365 days per year. As such, whilst a detox ‘diet’ may help to kick start a new healthy regime, to really see the benefits, nutrition and lifestyle changes to support healthy detoxification must become an everyday thing. Another major flaw is that, for most of us, our ability to detox is generally pretty good, meaning that increasing your intake of specific food and nutrients, unless you are known to be lacking in these specifically, may not actually make any difference at all to your body’s detox capabilities. (1,2).

Whilst evidence is considerably lacking for specific detox diets in humans, there is some research supporting the role of specific nutrients, foods and some common ‘detox’ practices in helping to support detoxification pathways and reduce potential toxic stress in the body; most of these are very safe and hugely beneficial to health, regardless of any supposed detox actions. In addition, some exciting research is showing that we all have slightly different detox profiles written into our genes, so for some of us, these foods and nutrients may actually be quite helpful to super charge otherwise sluggish or blocked detox processes. (3,4,5,6,7,8)
With this in mind, and without going off and spending a fortune on genetic testing and specialist green juices (unless you want to), here are my top tips for safe, scientific and health-promoting diet and lifestyle changes to help get, and keep, your health on track, whilst also supporting your body’s detox pathways.

Avoid foods that are heavily processed or contain chemical additives (9)

Reduce exposure to environmental chemicals (switching to natural personal care products and avoiding damp or polluted environments, for example) (10)

Increase consumption of leafy green and brightly-coloured fruits and vegetables

Drink adequate water-based fluids to stay hydrated (but not over hydrated)

Exercise regularly (21,22,23,24,25,26)

Don’t buy commercially available detox products

PLEASE NOTE: This blog was written to provide advice to support general health and well-being. If you are being treated for or have any health conditions or concerns, make sure you seek the appropriate medical support before making any major changes to your diet and lifestyle

To help address potential toxic load:
Avoid produce known to contain high levels of pesticides (i.e. choose organic where possible) (11)

We are today, unfortunately, surrounded by thousands of natural and man-made chemicals. Whilst for many of them the negative impact on our health is not yet established it can be beneficial to seek out products low in toxins so as not to put unnecessary strain on your body. If you are concerned about toxin exposure, the above suggestions (and associated links in the reference section) can help you reduce the number of chemicals your body encounters daily.

To support liver detoxification and oxidative stress associated with detox reactions (also very good for general health and well-being):
Increase consumption of berries and citrus fruits
Increase intake of fresh herbs, spices, garlic and onions
Ensure an adequate intake of calcium, iron, zinc, selenium and magnesium through a varied diet and supplementation where safe and implicated
Consume moderate amounts of protein daily from a range of sources

I’m sure I don’t need to explain why eating lots of plant foods is SO incredibly amazing for you but these items specifically are important for healthy detoxification, so upping them a little in your diet can only be a good thing!

To encourage toxin elimination:
Enjoy a sauna (12,13)
If it is safe for you to do so, having the odd sauna might be a useful practice to help encourage toxin excretion via sweat. A cool shower afterwards can also help stimulate circulation to further encourage toxin processing and removal via the blood.

You’ve probably heard of the concept of flushing out toxins; whether or not this has any scientific basis it is important to stay hydrated to support optimal health and physical function as well as encourage waste elimination in the urine and faeces. Urine should be light yellow and not have a strong odour; if it is too dark or light, or you urinate too frequently then this could be a sign you need to increase or reduce fluid intake accordingly.

To help support digestive health (to further support toxin elimination and reduce toxin exposure):
Increase consumption of fibre-rich foods
Fibre helps provide bulk to the stool, supporting transit and removal of unwanted waste products from the bowel. Our good bugs, living in the bowel, also use fibre as a source of fuel and they help protect us further from potential harm from toxins and pathogens lingering in the gut.
increase consumption of natural probiotic-rich foods

Probiotics help boost the numbers of good bacteria that live in our bowels and play a first-line defence against foreign bodies entering our system through the foods we ingest and air we swallow.

If wishing to lose body fat and improve a range of markers of health and well-being:
Moderately reduce calorie intake (17,18,19,20)
This reduces the amount your liver has to deal with, allowing it to focus on removal of potential toxins. Slow and steady weight loss can also help liberate stubborn toxins that are buried deep in fat tissue.      
Exercise is not only great for health, well-being and supporting cancer recovery but it also encourages sweating through which we release some toxins. Make sure to shower soon after so anything eliminated via this route is not reabsorbed.

To make sure your new healthy regime is safe:
Ensure you are still getting adequate nutrition and energy
A range of studies and anecdotal reports have shown that just a few days on a highly restrictive low calorie regime can lead to some serious health complications, and even long-term organ damage or death, (27,28,29) not to mention being a huge added stress on the body - which also comes with a range of negative health effects (30,31)      
Poor regulation of the ‘detox’ industry means that almost anyone can create a product and sell it to the public, meaning, in many cases, you don’t know what you are getting, the products haven’t been tested for safety and they are most certainly not going to be scientifically proven to work.


2.      Klein AV, Kiat H. “Detox diets for toxin elimination and weight management: a critical review of the evidence.” J Hum Nutr Diet. 2015 Dec;28(6):675-86. doi: 10.1111/jhn.12286. Review. PubMed PMID: 25522674.
3.     Romilly E. Hodges and Deanna M. Minich, “Modulation of Metabolic Detoxification Pathways Using Foods and Food-Derived Components: A Scientific Review with Clinical Application,” Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, vol. 2015, Article ID 760689, 23 pages, 2015. doi:10.1155/2015/760689
4.      Liska, D. Quinn, S. Lukaczer, D. Jones, D. Lerman. R et al., 2004, 2nd Edition. Clinical Nutrition: A functional Approach. Environment and toxicity. Chapter 9, 237- 261.
5.      Liska, D. Lyon, M. Jones, D.  2010, 3rd edition. Textbook of Functional medicine. Chapter 22, 275-298.
6.      F P Guengerich. “Effects of Nutritive Factors on Metabolic Processes Involving Bioactivation and Detoxication of Chemicals” Annual Review of Nutrition 1984 4:1, 207-231
7.      Bidlack WR, Brown RC, Mohan C. “Nutritional parameters that alter hepatic drug metabolism, conjugation, and toxicity.” Fed Proc. 1986 Feb;45(2):142-8. Review.
8.      Yu-Feng Li, Zeqin Dong, Chunying Chen, Bai Li, Yuxi Gao, Liya Qu, Tianchen Wang, Xin Fu, Yuliang Zhao, and Zhifang Chai. Organic Selenium Supplementation Increases Mercury Excretion and Decreases Oxidative Damage in Long-Term Mercury-Exposed Residents from Wanshan, China. Environmental Science & Technology 2012 46 (20), 11313-11318
12.   Krop J. Chemical sensitivity after intoxication at work with solvents: response to sauna therapy. J Altern Complement Med. 1998 Spring;4(1):77-86
13.   Ross GH, Sternquist MC. Methamphetamine exposure and chronic illness in police officers: significant improvement with sauna-based detoxification therapy. Toxicol Ind Health. 2012 Sep;28(8):758-68.
14.   Desai MS, Seekatz AM, Koropatkin NM, Kamada N, Hickey CA, Wolter M, Pudlo NA, Kitamoto S, Terrapon N, Muller A, Young VB, Henrissat B, Wilmes P, Stappenbeck TS, Núñez G, Martens EC. A Dietary Fiber-Deprived Gut Microbiota Degrades the Colonic Mucus Barrier and Enhances Pathogen Susceptibility. Cell. 2016 Nov 17;167(5):1339-1353.e21.
15.   Lallès JP. Microbiota-host interplay at the gut epithelial level, health and nutrition. J Anim Sci Biotechnol. 2016 Nov 8;7:66. Review.
16.   Zhang H, Wang J, Liu Y, Sun B. Wheat bran feruloyl oligosaccharides modulate the phase II detoxifying/antioxidant enzymes via Nrf2 signaling. Int J Biol Macromol. 2015 Mar;74:150-4.
17.   Ard JD, Gower B, Hunter G, Ritchie CS, Roth DL, Goss A, Wingo BC, Bodner EV, Brown CJ, Bryan D, Buys DR, Haas MC, Keita AD, Flagg LA, Williams CP, Locher JL. Effects of Calorie Restriction in Obese Older Adults: The CROSSROADS Randomized Controlled Trial. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2016 Dec 21.
18.   Martin CK, Bhapkar M, Pittas AG, Pieper CF, Das SK, Williamson DA, Scott T, Redman LM, Stein R, Gilhooly CH, Stewart T, Robinson L, Roberts SB; Comprehensive Assessment of Long-term Effects of Reducing Intake of Energy (CALERIE) Phase 2 Study Group.. Effect of Calorie Restriction on Mood, Quality of Life, Sleep, and Sexual Function in Healthy Non-obese Adults: The CALERIE 2 Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Intern Med. 2016 Jun 1;176(6):743-52.
19.   Meydani SN, Das SK, Pieper CF, Lewis MR, Klein S, Dixit VD, Gupta AK, Villareal DT, Bhapkar M, Huang M, Fuss PJ, Roberts SB, Holloszy JO, Fontana L. Long-term moderate calorie restriction inhibits inflammation without impairing cell-mediated immunity: a randomized controlled trial in non-obese humans. Aging (Albany NY). 2016 Jul;8(7):1416-31.
20.   Alhamdan BA, Garcia-Alvarez A, Alzahrnai AH, Karanxha J, Stretchberry DR, Contrera KJ, Utria AF, Cheskin LJ. Alternate-day versus daily energy restriction diets: which is more effective for weight loss? A systematic review and meta-analysis. Obes Sci Pract. 2016 Sep;2(3):293-302.
21.   Feurer J. Effect of a mixed 6-week training period on body fat in moderately to severely obese patients, without caloric restriction, with a 3-month follow-up. Ann Phys Rehabil Med. 2016 Sep;59S:e53.
22.   Friedenreich CM, Neilson HK, O'Reilly R, Duha A, Yasui Y, Morielli AR, Adams SC, Courneya KS. Effects of a High vs Moderate Volume of Aerobic Exercise on Adiposity Outcomes in Postmenopausal Women: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Oncol. 2015 Sep;1(6):766-76.
23.   Weiss EP, Albert SG, Reeds DN, Kress KS, McDaniel JL, Klein S, Villareal DT. Effects of matched weight loss from calorie restriction, exercise, or both on cardiovascular disease risk factors: a randomized intervention trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2016 Sep;104(3):576-86.
24.   Johnstone AM. Fasting - the ultimate diet? Obes Rev. 2007 May;8(3):211-22. Review.
25.   Archer T, Ricci S, Massoni F, Ricci L, Rapp-Ricciardi M. Cognitive Benefits of Exercise Intervention. Clin Ter. 2016 Nov-Dec;167(6):e180-e185.
26.   Febbraio MA. Exercise metabolism in 2016: Health benefits of exercise - more than meets the eye! Nat Rev Endocrinol. 2017 Jan 4.
27.   Johnstone AM. Fasting - the ultimate diet? Obes Rev. 2007 May;8(3):211-22. Review.
28.   Sánchez B1, Casalots-Casado J, Quintana S, Arroyo A, Martín-Fumadó C, Galtés I. Fatal manganese intoxication due to an error in the elaboration of Epsom salts for a liver cleansing diet. Forensic Sci Int. 2012 Nov 30;223(1-3):e1-4.
29.   J M Isner, H E Sours, A L Paris, V J Ferrans and W C Roberts. Sudden, unexpected death in avid dieters using the liquid-protein-modified-fast diet. Observations in 17 patients and the role of the prolonged QT interval. Circulation. 1979;60:1401-1412, originally published December 1, 1979
30.   Tomiyama AJ, Mann T, Vinas D, Hunger JM, Dejager J, Taylor SE. Low calorie dieting increases cortisol. Psychosom Med. 2010 May;72(4):357-64.
31.   Mazurak N, Günther A, Grau FS, Muth ER, Pustovoyt M, Bischoff SC, Zipfel S, Enck P. Effects of a 48-h fast on heart rate variability and cortisol levels in healthy female subjects. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2013 Apr;67(4):401-6.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.