Give Your Auto Immune System the Support it Need
Just like the trees shed their leaves and prepare for the winter, autumn is an excellent time for us to let go of bad habits and replace them with new ones that have a positive impact on our health. It’s a time to connect with the seasons and strengthen our bodies for the colder months ahead.
Sources of external toxins include heavy metals, amalgams, alcohol, damaged fats, medications, smoke, agriculture treatments, environmental pollutants, solvents and industrial chemicals, fire retardants, petrochemicals, plastics & food additives. Internal toxins can also come from normal metabolism and detoxification, as well as intestinal build-up of unhealthy bacteria within your own body.
A number of symptoms have been associated with toxicity such as migraines, environmental sensitivities, brain fog, anxiety/depression, fatigue, weight gain & joint pain. Toxic overload may also contribute too many more serious conditions such as autoimmune conditions, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, thyroid conditions, inflammatory/rheumatoid arthritis, autism and other neurological disorders.
While most detoxification is done in the liver, the lungs, skin, kidneys, intestines and lymphatic system all play important roles. Phase I of detoxification involves dislodging stored toxins and turning these harmful fat-soluble substances into intermediate compounds using cytochrome P450 enzymes. Phase II (conjugation) involves the neutralization of these compounds, turning them into water-soluble compounds and eliminating them from the body. Elimination of these neutralized toxins happens via the kidneys and the intestines. The different detox pathways require specific nutrients to conjugate these toxins so they can be properly eliminated. If these nutrients are in low supply, the even more reactive intermediate toxins may re-circulate in the body, and eventually store in tissues such as fat, the brain and nervous system.
Some of the nutrients needed for successful detoxification are thiols, vitamins A, B3, B6, B12, C, E beta-carotene, folate, zinc, glutathione, antioxidants, protein, water & fiber. Thiols, antioxidants, and fiber are high in cruciferous vegetables such as brussles sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, kohlrabi, kale, bok choy, mustard greens, chard, collard greens, beets, daikon, arugala, rutabegas, turnips and radishes. Two additional compounds indole-3-carbinol and crambene, also found in cruciferous vegetables, have been found to activate detoxification enzymes. Onions and garlic are also high in thiols, and colorful fruits and vegetables are high in antioxidants. Low allergen carbohydrates and clean proteins are also necessary, as they provide energy and essential amino acids. Eating adequate fiber (at least 30 grams daily) and hydrating with purified water will help with elimination.
The detoxification process needs a lot of energy and specific nutrients. Without optimal detoxification, your body will not efficiently remove harmful toxins. Although, by increasing your intake of the above mentioned thiol rich foods in certainly a good idea, if you are suffering from, have any of the conditions mentioned above, or would like to take preventative action; it is best to work with a qualified clinician whenever choosing and undergoing a new detoxification program.
Julie DeHollander, RD, CD is a registered dietitian and holistic nutritionist practicing at Sierra Wellness Nutrition in Grass Valley, CA