Toxic Overload! What You Need for Optimal Health

We live in a TOXIC world. Here's what you NEED to know to have optimal liver health now.

Let’s talk Liver Health. I’ve been doing a LOT of thinking about my liver recently, and will be sharing some of my thoughts later.  So I am THRILLED to have Lydia Shatney from Divine Health From the Inside Out here today to talk about your liver, toxins, liver health, and liver detox. I’ve written about toxins in Could You Have Heavy Metal Poisoning and Not Know It, but I’ll be writing more soon.

In a world filled with toxins, we need to clean up shop (aka detox our bodies).

And regularly.

Today I am sharing daily detoxification strategies to help you deal with the constant onslaught of toxins we encounter each and every day.

There’s a lot of talk about gut healing these days, but did you know that you really can’t heal your gut if you’re not detoxing well?

{Side note from Adrienne: We’ve talked a LOT about gut health here. If you’d like some more reading about it, here you go:}

- Candida and the Beginning of My Sugar Free Life
- Candida and 5 Causes of Gut Dysbiosis

- Do You Believe this Gut Health Myth & The Perfect Storm for Gut Dysbiosis
Death and More Begins in the Gut
Good News, Bad News, and Some Things I Bet You Didn’t Know About Your Gut

So it only makes sense that order to succeed with overall health including your gut, the lymph and liver need our daily attention.

Promoting Good Liver Health. Toxins affect your liver all the time. Find out How to Get Liver Support and Detox for better health.

Chemical Onslaught

The amounts of chemicals we are exposed to are unprecedented in history.

- The average American consumes 10 pounds of chemical food additives each year.
– Add to that the chemical burden caused by food sprayed with pesticides and from air and water pollution, you can see that our chemical burden is considerable.
– There are 82,000+ synthetic chemicals in use in the U.S. alone.

The Liver’s Functions

The liver has over 500 known functions. 

The liver is perhaps the most important organ in the body and is involved with:

– digestion
– the endocrine system
– controlling blood sugar
– protein metabolism and
– fat metabolism
– cleansing the system of toxins
– metabolizing proteins
– controlling hormonal balance, and
– producing immune boosting factors.

Many of these functions are essential to your overall health. For example, the liver synthesizes fibrinogen and other blood-clotting factors to protect you when you are injured.

Let’s look at a few of these up close and personal :).

Converting Toxins

The body has systems designed to eliminate waste and to detoxify poisons. The liver chemically converts toxins to be eliminated by the kidneys. Detoxification is an ongoing process–the sheer volume of chemicals in the environment and in our diets has caused many people to reach their threshold of tolerance, which adversely affects their health.

Basically, our bodies are getting overwhelmed.

When the body is more burdened with more chemicals that it can detoxify efficiently, chronic health problems can occur.

Problems like allergies, skin problems, digestive problems, headaches, fatigue, joint pain and a variety of ailments can be caused by chemical exposure.

Fat Metabolism

Each day your liver produces about a quart of a yellowish green liquid called bile, which is stored in your gall bladder. Bile is essential for proper fat emulsification and is also a major route of elimination for the body. Bile contains water, bile acids and pigments, cholesterol, bilirubin, lipids, lecithin, potassium, sodium and chloride. The liquid is stored near the liver in the gallbladder, then it’s transported to the intestine as needed during digestion.

As the liver becomes more dysfunctional, the gallbladder will become more and more compromised. The gallbladder stores the bile and when stimulated by the appropriate response (fat and protein in the GI and from the influence of a hormone called cholecystokinin) contracts and pumps bile into the lumen of the GI tract. However, a couple of conditions exist that greatly impact the function of the gallbladder.

Mild liver damage due to fatty deposits within the functional units of the liver itself can greatly impact the production of bile. This leads to a situation called biliary insufficiency. Some of the common causes of biliary insufficiency include changes in metabolism within the liver itself. This is most often caused by the consumption of excess hydrogenated or trans fatty acids, excess refined foods, oxidative stress, and low fat diets. Other causes include overt liver damage due to hepatitis, chemical damage to the liver and liver cirrhosis.

The liver metabolizes not only fats, but also carbohydrates and proteins for use in your body. The organ has a triple role in carbohydrate metabolism.

- First, it converts glucose, fructose, and galactose into glycogen, which it stores.
– Second, when your blood sugar level drops and no new carbohydrates are available, the liver converts stored glycogen into glucose and releases it into your bloodstream.
– Third, if your diet is regularly low in carbs, the liver will convert fat or protein into glucose to maintain your blood sugar levels.

The liver converts amino acids from food into various proteins that may have a direct or indirect impact on your weight. Many proteins, for example, transport hormones through the bloodstream; hormone balances are crucial to avoid water retention, bloating and cravings, as well as other health problems. Proteins also help transport wastes, such as damaged cholesterol and used estrogen and insulin, to the liver for detoxification and elimination through the kidneys.

Detoxing

Perhaps the liver’s most important function, and the one that makes it the most vulnerable to damage, is to detoxify the myriad toxins that assault our bodies daily.

A toxin is any substance that irritates or creates harmful effects in the body.

- Endotoxins: Some toxins, called endotoxins, are the natural by-products of body processes. For example, during protein metabolism, ammonia is formed, which the liver breaks down to urea to be excreted through the kidneys.

“Voluntary” Toxins: Other toxins you consume by choice, such as alcohol, caffeine, and prescription drugs. Still others are the thousands of toxic chemicals we breathe, consume, or touch in our environment: pesticides, car exhaust, secondhand smoke, chemical food additives, and indoor pollutants from paint, carpets, and cleaners among others.

Under ordinary circumstances, your body handles toxins by first, neutralizing them, as antioxidants neutralize free radicals, and then by transforming them, as fat-soluble chemicals are transformed to water-soluble ones, and then eliminating them through urine, feces, sweat, mucus and breath. Working with your lungs, skin, kidneys and intestines, a healthy liver detoxifies many harmful substances and eliminations them without contaminating the bloodstream.

Detoxification Pathways

The detoxification process has two phases that should work in close synchronization.

1.  Phase 1: A group of enzymes break apart the chemical bonds holding the toxins together. Known as hydroxylation, phase 1 makes some toxins more water soluble and temporarily more chemically active.

2.  Phase 2: (conjugation).  The liver intermediates (attaches other enzymes to the chemically altered toxins), producing substances that are non-toxic, water-soluble, and easily excreted.

How To Support Basic Daily Detox & Flush Your Liver

  • Hydration – We have to be properly hydrated to keep the body flushing appropriately, moving bowels and urine regularly. Proper hydration keeps the blood fluid so that toxic material may be delivered to the lymph and liver.Water flushes toxins and removes wastes. Since we’re more toxic than ever we must drink enough pure filtered water (free of chlorine/fluoride, chemicals/metals/pathogens).Lemon water is great to support liver detox. 1/2 your body weight in ounces per day plus electrolytes (a pinch of good quality sea salt in each glass of water will do). Or cran-water (4 ounces of pure organic cranberry juice in 28 ounces pure water). This mixture eliminates water retention and cleanses accumulated wastes from the lymphatic system and also helps to clean up cellulite.Start each day with a mug of hot lemon water using half a lemon to assist your kidneys and liver.
  • Diet – Processed lifeless foods are seen by the body as a toxin. Removing all food sensitivities is key. Avoiding sugar/caffeine/alcohol will take a burden off of your liver. Eating plenty of liver-loving foods in your diet -including LIVER itself.Liver loving foods include:
    – beets (a healthy bile builder)
    – cruciferous vegetables contain substances that improve the ability of the liver to detoxify harmful chemicals and pollutants (more info and recipes)
    – Inulin Foods (if you tolerate them)
  • Fiber – If you are on a grain / bean-free diet, note that removing grains/legumes from the diet removes a heck of a lot of fiber. It will be critical to consume plenty of vegetables at every meal along with supplementing with fiber.Flax (soaked or sprouted – Go Raw is a good brand of sprouted) and chia seeds are great options. They need to be ground AS YOU USE them since they can go rancid quickly after grinding.
    Buy only in whole seed form and grind as you need (purchase sprouted flax seed if possible since this is a more digestible way to consume flax). If you do choose to grind a bunch at once you will need to keep them in the freezer.By the way, you must consume them ground to get the benefit or you will just excrete them out whole in your stool – not a good way to boost your nutrition :).Try this Daily “Detox Cocktail” to increase elimination and balance hormones:

1.  Mix 1 Tbsp. of ground flax or chia seeds in about 8 ounces of water or cran water.
2.  Mix quickly and drink immediately or use a straw. I like to do one dose in a smoothie. You can also try doing a daily dose in a glass of kombucha if you enjoy kombucha.

(*NOTE- If you are taking any exogenous hormones or medications, make sure you take them at least 45 minutes before or after your flax or chia drink. The fiber component can interfere with the absorption of medications). If you don’t tolerate these seeds – just be sure to include sources of fiber in your diet that you do tolerate. Low glycemic veggies are great for this -eat as many as you want and with every meal if possible. Some people with gut issues don’t tolerate raw veggies well – cooked veggies are fine in that case, consume plenty (usually in cases of IBD/IBS with diarrhea)!

Supplements To Support Detox

At the very least I recommend just using a good multi-vitamin and multi-mineral supplement. During times of stress you may want to increase your mineral intake, as stress causes you to burn through your minerals more quickly.

  • Nettle Tea: One way to get natural vitamins and minerals daily would be with Nettle Tea. Nettles are a wonderful overall support tonic and could be considered an excellent food based multi-vitamin. Nettle stimulates the lymph, boosts immunity, helps with GI disease, IBS and constipation and much more. Loaded with minerals, b vitamins (assimilable forms) and quite a good source of vitamin K – nettles are a very balancing food for health.Recipe: Steep 1 cup dried nettles in 2 quarts boiling water for 1-4 hours. Strain, add more water to equal a full 2 quarts, sweeten to taste. The longer you steep it the more nutrients are drawn out, but the taste also is more grassy/earthy/herby. Try my Cranberry Nettles Tea for a slightly sweetened and flavorful way to enjoy nettles along with the added benefit of cranberries for detox support. Or my DIY Kool-Aid (you will love it and so will your friends and family).
  • Vitamin C and Bioflavonoids – I recommend everyone take both daily at least in a maintenance dose. Vitamin C has many detoxifying jobs -it’s like a kind of universal anti toxin. 4000-6000 mg daily and half that in bioflavonoids daily. I like the Mixed Ascorbate powder from Biotics and Bio-FCTS (make sure whatever brand you purchase is allergen free/corn protein free/gluten free etc…) Also, you can read more about doing a vitamin C flush in this post. Another good form of C to look for would be sodium ascorbate. I actually prefer a Liposomal form of Vitamin C – you can purchase this online; this is a good one-Lypo-Spheric Vitamin C. OR, you can make your own at home, which is what I do. The Liposomal form is the most absorbed form of C and actually goes straight to the liver and you won’t need as large of a dose with this form.
  • Vitamin E – very protective against free radical damage and cell membrane damage. The process of detoxification can create dangerous molecules and they can do more harm than the original toxin. Vitamin E protects against such effects. Daily dose should be minimum of 200 upwards to about 1200 IU. We as a culture are very deficient in all our fat soluble vitamins. I love Biotics Emulsion formulas and that is the one I’d suggest for getting your vitamin E, very effective! Bio-E-Mulsion. Also, a brand called ‘Unique E‘ and Carlsons ‘E-Gems Elite’ (specifically).
  • Liver/Gallbladder support - Beta TCP from Biotics is a great support. This is also a critical addition in a detox because it helps to emulsify the bile and get toxins out of the body. The last thing you want when detoxing is sludgy bile.
  • Liver glandularCytozyme LV by Biotics (used for liver congestion/toxicity/liver dysfunction, general). Optional, but helpful.
  • Herbs – Milk Thistle, Dandelion, try Dandy Blend as a coffee replacement – great liver supportive herbs. It’s a gentle but effective liver balancer for those with elevated liver enzymes and/or those who have overdone alcohol, sugar, trans fats, Ibuprofen, and medications for lowering cholesterol. Use the herbs in dried form in tea, or find tinctures or make them. Start with one herb and get used to it for a month before adding another. Stop if any side effects or discomfort arise. Here are some recipes for you: Cinnamon Vanilla Herbal Coffee, Homemade Coffee, Milk Thistle Liver Tonic.

Game Plan To Support The Liver

First off, let me state – I do not recommend a SERIOUS liver cleanse or detox until you have spent about 3 months or so working on the foundations of digestion. All elimination pathways need to be clear (no constipation, regular daily bowel movements), sleep needs be regulated, blood sugar needs to be stable and then a deeper cleanse can be more manageable. The following tips/strategies would be a good way to support general detoxification and support the liver.

  • A 30 day strict diet as a cleanse and way to reduce inflammation and enhance metabolic cleansing – this helps to address toxic overload, harmful bacteria, heavy metal toxicity and leaky gut. It will not address it 100% for everyone in just 30 days, but it’s a great starting point and could be a plan to try seasonally. Avoid all gluten grains (wheat, rye, oats, barley), dairy, sugar, processed foods, alcohol, caffeine (coffee, black teas, sodas), soy based foods, sodas, fruit drinks, conventional pork or cold cuts -all meats that contain hormones/antibiotics -use only hormone/antibiotic free or pastured grass fed, canned tomato products (most contain common allergens, some even contain gluten) fresh tomatoes or organic canned with no additives are good, avoid refined oils/fats, all refined sugar products and any foods you are currently intolerant to.
  • Exercise daily – even if it’s only a brisk walk or something minimal. Daily movement is very important. It keeps the lymph flowing and toxins moving out of the body.
  • Sweat Daily- this should occur if you are getting daily exercise, however you can head to a sauna as well.
  • Oil Pulling – Oil pulling is a great method for pulling toxins out of the blood as well. The chewing action done during oil pulling can trigger enzymes that draw toxins from the blood. It is important to note that the oil has become very toxic by doing this and by no means should you ever swallow it. There are many reports and findings that indicate the practice of oil pulling can cure many ailments and diseases. Read More: What’s All This About Oil Pulling? and Take The Oil Pulling Challenge.

After 30 days of implementing some of the above daily detox tips you should experience more regularity, 2 or more stools per day that come with ease. You should also experience more energy, clearer skin, radiant eyes, less pain and inflammation and even smoother digestion. Detoxifying diets like the Whole30, GAPS & GAPS Intro, SCD and the Paleo Autoimmune protocol are some options if you want to detoxify daily and continue to resolve gut issues.

Spend 3 months really cleaning up your diet, getting your bowels moving regularly and removing the toxins from you life. If you are still having acute or chronic health conditions consider taking on a deeper detoxification plan, getting liver testing done and preferably working under the supervision of an experienced practitioner.

Gut Health Course

Further Articles, Recipes & Info.

Blood Cleaner and Liver Tonic - for better liver and gut health

How to Get Started

  1. Identify 3 specific ways you can work to support your liver. (ex: buy a dry brush and start using it, drink lemon water each morning, juice, herbal tea, beet kvass, milk thistle tonic, dandelion root-based coffee substitute…..)
  2. Implement at least ONE of the 3 ways right now -today!
  3. Find one or two things in your life to ditch that are not good for your liver. Such as caffeine, too much alcohol, toxic personal care products, toxic home care products…..Work on getting those out of your life over the next week, replace with healthier alternatives.
  4. *NOTE: Forced detoxification is not recommended while pregnant or breastfeeding because breast milk is a detox pathway. The best way to support your liver while pregnant/breastfeeding is to- support your entire digestive system
    – stay well hydrated and
    – include plenty of daily movement. As well as avoid toxins in your home, food/water….
  5. Check out the Heal Your Gut Course. {From Adrienne: This course is a fabulous value. Even those who already had a good knowledge of gut health have commented on how much they learned in this course. Well worth the price for sure.}

Lydia Shatney from Divine Health From the Inside OutI would love to hear from you!

Share in the comments what insights you have gained, what questions you might have for me, and the ways in which you applied this information. Thanks!

P.S. Join the Heal Your Gut course now to get support on your journey to regain your health! See you there!

[Sources for this post: ‘Signs & Symptoms Analysis From A Functional Perspective’, Dicken Weatherby, ‘7 Day Detox Miracle’, Course Notes from NTA]
Shared at Allergy-Free Alaska and The Prairie Homestead.

Comments

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  1. Joanne Peterson says:

    Hi Lydia,

    Thank you for sharing this information with us. Very valuable information!

    I have a question for you, I had my gallbladder removed because the tube was blocked by gallstones and was very inflamed. It never occurred to me until your article that the gallbladder produces bile, which is very important to digestion. I just needed relief because of pain that mimicked a heart attack! And my diet was quite clean for about 10 years by that point of my life according to your list.

    What additional things would a person without a gallbladder need to do for liver and body health?

    Blessings,

    Joanne

    • Hi Joanne. I will see if Lydia can pop by to respond – take care!

    • You’re welcome Joanne!

      Sorry about your gallbladder – I hear this ALL the time and it’s very sad.

      The gallbladder stores the bile (liver makes it) and also sends out hormone messages to help with fat digestion in the small intestine. Without a gallbladder folks need to be wary of fatty acid deficiency.

      Two basic things – first, read this post and apply what you can to help your liver out, if your gallbladder went you likely have issues with your liver. Second, support yourself with bile acids -read more here: http://divinehealthfromtheinsideout.com/2012/04/are-you-digesting-fats/

  2. My husband’s liver enzymes were high the last two times he’s had blood work. He’s going to have an abdominal ultrasound this week. Thanks for all the info in this post! We needed it! :)

    • So glad to hear that. I will pray for you – please keep me in the loop if you have the chance. I will say I have tried a number of the things in this post and really can say they work. The Liver Support in my store is a great supplement and I have done the liver packs and the coffee substitute (every morning :)!). http://wholenewmom.com/whole-new-mom-store/

      • Thank you for praying!! Please keep on!

        • I really will. I know how scary this kind of stuff can be.

          • My husband is going to a GI doctor today. I’m not sure what they’ll do at this visit. His ultrasound showed signs of fatty liver and also maybe some hypertension in the liver or the valves(?). We’re praying everything is clear. Also, I’m curious about the liver support that you sell. We’re planning for my husband to do a liver detox which is 5 days long. Would you think that he should start taking the liver support after that detox?

            • I can’t medically advise, of course, but I think it’s a great product. I personally use it while I am detoxing as well as at other times. I found it helpful when I was doing heavy metal work and now that I am working on other things (cleansing in nature) I continue to use it. I hope that helps. The instructions say to use 1 tablet 3 x per day up to 3 tablets when you need heavy duty support (my words – not theirs :)). And again, you need to consult w/ a physician prior to using supplements. Sorry, but I need to add that ;).

              • Thank you! He works with fuel so I’m sure taking this all the time would be great for him. We are working with very limited funds right now so I’m trying to wait to get anything until we know what’s going on, but I’m thinking that the supplement would be ok. At the GI yesterday they said he needs a cat scan…so more waiting.

  3. This is an excellent post. I would ask: since detoxing removes ALL metals, you should not take any minerals while doing, but I’ve never really seen how long you must wait if you are going to replenish those minerals? Do you detox one day, then take minerals the next? Or can you take minerals an hour after detoxing? or a week? I don’t want to be detoxing and then just removing all the good minerals I’ve just taken, especially since they aren’t cheap!
    I’ve often wondered the same about if you MUST take antibiotics, how long to wait until you can re-build the good bacteria in the gut?

    Also, a bit off topic, anyone tried to make a comment on the link to hawkeshealth where you make your own liposomal C?
    I can’t figure out the answer to the “random question” of ‘in gardening the opposite of organic’. I’ve tried EVERYTHING! Just wanted to mention there about the replacement for soy lecithin of sunflower lecithin: I contacted a supplier of the sunflower lecithin, and it is extracted using hexane: VERY BAD!!!
    I think in this case I’d rather use the non GMO, organic soy rather than the nasty hexane extracted sunflowers…..
    Again, thanks Adrienne for a great post!

    • You are so welcome Carol! I will see if Lydia can pop by w/ a response. I have heard you can take probiotics 2 hours away from antibiotics in most cases. Different detoxes will remove different things. The zeolite in my store does not remove beneficial minerals from all that I have read. I should add that to the post.

  4. Thanks for sharing this important info.
    “The amounts of chemicals we are exposed to are unprecedented in history.” -This is true, and yet the number of ppl who know it seems pretty low. I’m spreading the word. Thanks again for all the important work you do to help us in this education journey.

  5. This is very important, useful, helpful information. In addition, I am concerned about the mostly deafening silence about the continuing radioactive contamination of our air, food, and water from Fukushima. I hope more people will spread the world about it, and demand that our governments test air, food, and water for radioactive contamination, and help Japan stop the continuing radioactive contamination from Fukushima, whether TEPCO wants help or not. http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/keep-harmful-radioactive-1.fb26?source=c.fb&r_by=7470505

  6. Wow! This is alot of great information. I am working on this right now-here is an excellent article I found on castor oil packs- http://www.20somethingallergies.com/castor-oil-packs/. There is a testimony on there about fibromyalgia, sleep, and castor oil packs. Basically, the castor oil packs along with diet changes cured this person’s insomnia! I am working on finding a way to wear the castor oil packs, so that I can wear them during the day, because I don’t like to lay flat for that long. :) I have quite a few articles on my blog about what I am doing right now- one on the liver- http://www.familyhomehealth.blogspot.com/2014/04/waking-too-early-and-liver-health-low.html, and here is one of the low histamine menus that go along with it (I feel that my histamine issues are liver related)-http://www.familyhomehealth.blogspot.com/2014/05/menu-plan-this-weeks-plan-is-mostly-low.html