If the Liver is Doing Such a Great Job, What’s the Problem?
The liver, like any organ in our body, needs the right nutrients, AKA fuel, to operate at peak performance. With the large amount of toxins in our environment, it can be very difficult to give the liver all the nutrients it needs for peak detoxification, without additional supplements.
It’s All about Balance! – Phase 1
Each phase of detoxification is dependent on certain nutrients. If Phase 1 transformation is under-active, a back up of chemicals waiting to be transformed for elimination results. This backlog can lead to an excess of fat-soluble toxic chemicals circulating in the body. Since they prefer to dissolve in fat, they often find a resting place in the body’s fat cells. In addition to our fat tissue, toxins are stored in fatty organs such as the brain and endocrine glands. Deposits of toxins in these tissues can result in neurological and hormonal dysfunction. Once stored in fat cells, they may remain there for years until they are released through exercise, stress, weight loss, or a detoxification program.
If Phase 1 transformation is overactive an excess of intermediates will be produced for entry into Phase 2. Some substances that stimulate Phase 1 and cause it to become overactive include: carcinogens, alcohol, exhaust fumes, heavy metals, paint fumes, dioxins, and organophosphate pesticides. Too much activity from the presence of these toxic substances may over activate Phase 1 and overwhelm Phase 2 by driving more intermediates into Phase 2. Often these intermediates are more toxic than the original substance and are reactive molecules that can generate free radicals and damage tissues. These reactive molecules need to enter Phase 2 detoxification without delay, and proper antioxidants need to be present to protect the tissues from the free radicals.
Balancing Phase 2
If Phase 2 liver detoxification is under-active, the toxic intermediates from Phase 1 will back up and damage tissues. This second phase is dependent on many amino acids (protein building blocks) and antioxidants to run efficiently. Without the right quality diet and nutrients, this phase of liver detoxification will run out of the wipes necessary to bind the excess of toxic intermediates. This results in free radical damage and a sluggish liver that often needs extra support.
For example, it is well known that large amounts of acetaminophen (Tylenol) can cause liver failure. Like many drugs, acetaminophen metabolizes in the liver and excretes in the urine. During Phase 1, a small percentage of acetaminophen transforms into a very toxic intermediate, NAPQI. Ideally, during Phase 2, glutathione (an antioxidant) neutralizes NAPQI, making it harmless. Glutathione, essential for both phases of liver detoxification, is dependent on one’s nutritional status. If there is not enough glutathione during Phase 2 (not enough wipes) to mop up the NAPQI, then NAPQI backs up and liver damage can occur. Glutathione levels are low in people who don’t eat well, are malnourished, or are chronic alcohol users (three or more drinks a day). Because chronic alcohol users typically have depleted glutathione levels, they are more at risk for liver failure if they take multiple high doses of acetaminophen.
It’s most common for people to have an overactive Phase 1 from the constant chemical insults in our environments, and an under-active Phase 2 from depleted stores of essential nutrients due to poor diet and lifestyle habits.
The result is a liver that can’t keep up with its workload, referred to as a “sluggish liver”. A sluggish liver can produce symptoms of toxicity that include: headaches, joint pain, sinus congestion, digestive disturbances, fatigue, environmental allergies and sensitivities, infertility, neurologic dysfunction, food intolerances, nausea, elevated cholesterol, constipation, skin disorders, acne, anxiety, and depression.
How Can I Support My Poor Overworked Liver?
Here is the good news – by making subtle changes to your diet, avoiding key toxins, and adding all natural supplements to your diet you can have your liver detoxing like an all-star!
In our next article, learn about all natural Perfect Liver Detox Support; a supplement developed by a Naturopathic Doctor, Erica LePore, with over 14 years of experience helping thousands of patients through a science-based detoxification program.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.