How is your January going? I don’t know about you but 2024 feels way different than 2023. I can see and feel it all around me, especially noticing it in others’ behaviours. Like real change is in the air for many people (in maybe a scary, but definitely optimistic way).
Last week I covered my top 10 foundational diet & lifestyle suggestions for supporting your body’s detox pathways. If you missed it, you can catch it here.
Today I want to cover what nutrients (e.g. vitamins, minerals) are required by your body to ensure these detox pathways are chugging along as they should be. Missing a key nutrient is like throwing a wrench in the works. Some steps just can’t move forward. We can get these nutrients through the foods we eat and/or supplementation when our diet alone doesn’t seem to be doing the trick. Let’s dive in.
Why should we care about supporting our detox pathways?
Because, we have a lot of chemical exposures nowadays. In the air we breathe, the food and water we consume, the many things we slather on our body or use to clean our home or clothing, and many of our household items from furniture to cookware to candles. These everyday chemicals include compounds like organophosphates, flame retardants, phthalates, formaldehyde and polychlorinated biphenyls. I’m not going to go into all the items in which these compounds are found – because it’s a lot and can feel overwhelming. Just know that these chemicals are all around us and we can only minimize our exposures so much. Which is why supporting our body’s ability to deal with them is so worthwhile.
What are some of the symptoms associated with bogged down detox pathways?
While keeping in mind that some of the symptoms listed could very well be due to other causes (which, should be investigated, low iron as a simple example), some common signs or symptoms that your detox pathways could use some support include:
I could go on.I didn’t even touch on pharmaceutical use/impact on the liver (don’t stop your meds). As you can see liver cells are metabolic overachievers in the body!
This isn’t about crash fad/hypocaloric detox diets here, this is about supporting your organs so they can do their job properly.
B vitamins are critical for our body’s detox pathways. Detox at the liver happens in 2 phases, aptly called phase 1 and 2. Phase 1 depends on B2, B3, B6, B9 (folate), and B12. B vitamins are also critical in different steps in phase 2, such as methylation and acetylation. If taking a B complex look for one that contains methylated or activated forms of the B vitamins.
Other key nutrients or co-factors involved in detox at the liver
Plus, remember the detox foundations we covered last week. If you’re not pooping or sleeping well, start with supports here, e.g. a fibre formula if needed, sleep supports which I’ve covered recently, here.
Remember, we can get these nutrients (or make them in the body) via the foods we eat. For example, ensuring we are getting enough good quality protein to get our sulphur containing amino acids (cysteine, methionine, and taurine) as well as glutamine and glycine. Eating sulfur rich foods like cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, kale etc), allium vegetables (onions, garlics, chives, leeks, shallots), and eggs. Foods rich in glycine include collagen protein, chicken, turkey, pork, beef, eggs, amaranth, pumpkin seeds, almonds, sunflower seeds, soybeans, lentils, fish and lobster. Eat the rainbow: colorful fruits and vegetables provide nutrients the liver uses in both phases of detoxification. Omega-3 fatty acids – DHA and EPA – from fatty fish like salmon or trout provide antioxidants that help neutralize damage to the liver from chemical exposure
This Kale Cauliflower Sausuage Bowl is both liver loving (with a good dose of cruciferous veggies & protein), fits into the Mediterranean diet, is a good source of fibre, and is warming for this time of year.
Think of detox like a lifestyle rather than a program (although a detox program can make you feel 1000%, too, when a) it is executed correctly and b) your body has been adequately prepared and is ready to handle it).
Have questions about detox (or otherwise)?
- Dr. Willow
I help women achieve optimal digestive and hormonal wellness through a root cause, individualized approach to medicine that utilizes functional lab testing, diet and lifestyle modification, nutritional and herbal medicine, and acupuncture to re-establish lasting health.
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