Originally published March 10 2008
The Link Between Obesity, Cancer, and Toxicity: Detoxifying the Body (Part 2)
by Luke J. Terry
(NaturalNews) In the last article, we explored the link between obesity, cancer, and toxicity. Several important studies were discussed, notably a study showing that living near a toxic waste site increases the risk of hospitalization due to diabetes. Another epidemiological survey from the UK showed that the counties of the UK that suffer from the highest levels of industrial pollution also demonstrate the highest rates of obesity.
The link to cancer is illustrated with ever-increasing scientific studies. The results of major studies show obesity as major risk factors for prostate cancer; obese men seem to present with more aggressive forms of cancer and more metastasis. For more information, please see Part 1. This article will focus on the solution to the problem, the physiologic methods that support the most effective methods of disease risk management. More importantly, the same methods and outcomes that help reduce disease risk also increase overall health and vitality.
How Do We Detoxify?
Detoxification can be accomplished in a number of ways. The most traditional method is fasting. This method can offer dramatic results and with it come dramatic side effects. More modern approaches include calorie-restriction, or cleanses. This approach is gentler and safer; yielding more complete results, but takes longer.
The most effective approach available varies according to the individual's needs. Many highly toxic individuals benefit from a medical detoxification, a supervised and facilitated cleansing process in which a mild caloric restriction program is applied in conjunction with specific nutrients to up-regulate both phases of liver detoxification, along with nutritional supplements to assist in the excretion of those toxins.
Liver detoxification has two phases. In Phase I, toxins enter the enzymatic pathways to be deconstructed into smaller, more easily managed parts. Of the two major pathways, the pathway known as P450 is much more famous, because the body develops specific P450 enzymes for each toxin. It takes some time, but eventually this toxin-specific strategy effectively breaks down a single toxin that enters the body repeatedly and often. No wonder then, when people drink lots of booze, they develop a 'tolerance' to the alcohol. In reality, the body is no more tolerant of alcohol than when the first drink was taken - it merely has more machinery capable of breaking down alcohol into simpler molecules, like formaldehyde. For anyone interested in generating lasting health and vitality, a 'tolerance' to alcohol signals that the body is actually less tolerant to alcohol, and is demonstrating its aversion to this poisonous substance by working harder to get rid of it.
After Phase I starts off the detox process, Phase II kicks in. This phase is often called "conjugation," because it attaches a sulfur, glycine, or cysteine atom, which are like "handles" that allow the toxins to become more water-soluble. This process is very delicate, and requires a full complement of all needed cofactors. Many people experience impairment in the second phase, though people whom are referred to as "pathological detoxifiers" may have a defect in Phase I, Phase II, or in bile output. Phase II defects cause massive damage throughout the system in the form of systemic inflammation caused by the unstable and reactive byproducts of detoxification known as 'free radicals.' A perfect example of this occurs when folate, the active form of the B vitamin folic acid, is missing. Folate allows the enzymes of the body to correctly methylate methionine. In the absence of folate, the enzymes incorrectly attach the methyl group, creating Homocysteine, a toxic compound.
Elevated Homocysteine damages the walls of the arteries, veins, nerves, and negatively affects disease progressions in virtually every chronic condition, including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, schizophrenia, senile dementia, and plenty of others - all because of faulty detoxification pathways.
Thus, for a long healthy life, all phases of liver detoxification must be supported and protected. However detoxification doesn't end as Phase II phases out.
At the end of phase II, excretion occurs in the form of bile. Bile performs two needed functions in the body: it removes toxins, and it emulsifies our fats. Bile is released into the duodenum when the body detects that fat has been ingested. The fat and bile mix together, creating an 'emulsification,' allowing the fat to become more water-soluble.
The emulsified fat then travels through the intestines, where up to 50% of this mixture of fat and bile is absorbed through the small intestine as nutrition. Without bile, the fat will not be absorbed but excreted as "fatty stools," explaining why people with poor bile output exhibit symptoms of essential fatty acid deficiency.
The rest of the mixture that is not absorbed, the toxic portion, remains to be excreted through the large intestine.
However, the journey continues until the excrement hits the rotary oscillator, or at least the toilet. Constipation plagues Americans because of their lack of fiber and water intake, indicated by the millions who pass a bowel movement once a day or less.
The large intestine's main job is to reabsorb water and bile salts back into the system, preventing dehydration. The reabsorbed liquids are taken back to the liver via the enterohepatic duct. This process helps to preserve nutrients. However, in constipated individuals, the fecal matter remains in the large intestine for a long time, too long for good health, as the toxic content of the bile is reabsorbed. This explains the more severe PMS symptoms in constipated women, because the toxic remnants of the estrogen compounds in bile are reabsorbed instead of excreted.
Many women find that PMS symptoms dramatically diminish after thorough detoxification, and that these gains remain as long as appropriate dietary habits are established and maintained.
The Experience of Detoxification
During uncontrolled detoxification processes such as fasting, people often experience fatigue, flu-like symptoms such as sinus congestion or post-nasal drip, joint aches, moodiness, fever, gas, diarrhea, headaches, and rashes. Individuals with higher levels of toxicity will often experience more severe symptoms. In general, the greater an individuals' toxic load, the more severe the symptoms and the longer it takes to adequately detoxify.
In some patients, the detox symptoms will mimic earlier bacterial diseases, because they are excreting the toxic bacterial byproducts that caused the disease symptoms. For example, patients with a history of Lyme disease may notice symptoms similar to the active phase of infection, though no infection is currently present.
Other cases demonstrate more profound connections. A clinical example illustrates: A 57-year old woman, a breast cancer survivor, embarks upon a detoxification protocol, her first detox since having breast cancer 15 years ago. While on the detox, she began to feel some of the same sensations and symptoms that she experienced during the three rounds of chemotherapy, some 15 years earlier. Fortunately, side effects and detox symptoms are controlled via modifications to the detox process to include nutrients that support and control the detoxification process, and more importantly, to capture, isolate, and neutralize the toxic products. These methods include using large quantities of plant fiber, especially fiber from fresh, raw fruits and vegetables.
Bentonite clay contains molecules that act as a sink to absorb the toxins, while another mineral found in Bentonite known as montmorillonite acts as a magnet to pull toxins out of the tissues. Both nutritional support and non-nutritional methods such as far-infrared saunas, lymphatic drainage, and exercise enhance detoxification efficacy while alleviating side effects.
Many practitioners will use nutraceuticals, herbs, vitamins, and dietary regimens to support and control the detoxification process. By carefully controlling the dose of the herbs and supplements, we can eliminate or minimize the major side effects of the detoxification.
Detoxification Assists Weight Loss
The process of detoxification generates many beneficial changes in the body. Many of these changes assist in weight loss. For example, heavy metals bind to both sex hormone binding globulin and to thyroid hormone binding sites, slowing metabolism. After detoxification, these pathways open up, and metabolism increases in many detox participants.
More importantly, fat stores are mobilized and burned for fuel, moving toxic components out of cells, so they can be taken to the liver for processing and excretion.
Detoxification Enhances Blood Sugar Control and Blood Lipids
Even many in the medical field forget that the liver has a profound effect on blood sugar. The liver contains about 100-120 grams of glycogen, which the liver doles out when needed. Glycogen is a polymer of glucose meaning it's a large chain of glucose molecules, which can be converted to glucose via glycogenolysis. However, many people rarely ever, or for some, never use this function of the liver. The glycogen remains stagnant in the liver because sugar from dietary sources continually elevates blood sugar, creating insulin resistance and blood sugar control problems.
Further, many dietary sugars are actually processed in the liver. A congested, stagnant liver cannot adequately process the sugars, and instead are converted to dangerous lipids like LDL, VLDL, lipoprotein A, and excess triglycerides.
Mobilizing liver glycogen, and reinvigorating the pathways of its synthesis and utilization effectively controls blood sugar.
Opening the liver and removing toxic compounds that block its pathways controls adverse blood lipids.
Specific Recommendations for Detoxification:
* Lifestyle: The best treatment is to avoid the problem in the first place, to dodge toxicity in daily life. These common items are a source of toxic chemicals: health and beauty products, cosmetics, cleaning products, detergents, fabric softeners, paint, varnish, glue, gasoline. This is a partial list that should give you a good idea on what to look for. Generally speaking, the volatile organic compounds are the ones to watch out for, but read labels and look for things that sound like chemicals. If you don't know, look it up. The Cosmetic Ingredient Encyclopedia might be a good place to start, and more info is given below.
* Detoxify Mentally, Spiritually, and Emotionally: Emotional and mental toxicity and stress are often the underlying cause of overall body toxicity, because they contribute to muddled thinking and poor decision-making, causing people to make poor lifestyle choices, and to rely upon stimulants and drugs.
* Quiet Time: The detoxification process can tap our energy resources, so the detoxification process is a good time to take time for one's self. Quiet contemplation, meditation, relaxing, reading or music is all a great way to rest and maximize the detoxification process.
* Eliminate Stress: Stress causes our body to produce its own toxins. We are in direct control of our stress. We can make choices that empower us. Choose to lower stress, decrease drama in your life, and to simplify.
* Exercise: Exercise works in many ways to support the detoxification process. Exercise lowers stress, supports healthy mood and energy levels, and helps excrete toxins through sweat.
* Drink Generously From a Pure Water Source: Tap and bottled water are sources of chemical toxins such as pthalates from plastic bottles, and chlorine and organohalides from domestic tap water. Use distilled water or reverse-osmosis purified water, or spring water from a verified source. Use steel or glass containers to carry water. Most people need somewhere around 2 liters of water daily, sometimes more depending upon mineral status.
Toxic Items to Eliminate:
* Coffee: one of the most heavily fumigated crops, and the roasting process leaves volatile coffee oils open to rancidity, which happens rapidly. Eliminate coffee because it is toxic, and is a diuretic.
* Alcohol: Alcohol is a diuretic, it diminishes blood oxygen levels and depletes key liver detoxification enzymes, depletes minerals, raises blood sugar, and slows metabolism.
* Personal Grooming Products: Products such as makeup, face creams, shampoos, lotions, deodorants, even toothpaste, contain toxic chemicals that are endocrine disruptors and liver congesting substances. Choose natural brands, and brands from Europe such as Weleda and Hauschka because the European laws are much more stringent than US laws.
* Artificial Sweeteners: Products such as Aspartame and Nutrasweet break down in the body to produce neurotoxins such as glutamic acid, and liver toxins such as methanol. A recent study showed that animals fed aspartame gained more weight because their fatty tissue became less vascular, less metabolic, making it harder to burn fat. Replace artificial sweeteners with stevia or raw honey.
* Dairy products: Dairy causes mucus production in the body, which congests the liver and the lymphatic system, slowing and complicating the detoxification process. Dairy also contains metabolites of pus from the inflamed cow's udders, and hormones used to increase milk production. Avoid dairy during the detox process, and minimize dairy in general. Choose organic, raw dairy to minimize toxins and to maximize nutrition.
* Pesticides: Eat organic food as much as possible. Wash your produce well. If you must eat conventional produce, avoid the 12 most highly fumigated produce items:
Strawberries, Bell peppers (green and red), Spinach, Cherries (grown in the United States), Peaches (grown in Chile), Cantaloupe (grown in Mexico), Celery, Apples, Apricots, Green beans, Grapes, and Cucumbers.
Nutrition - What to Eat During a Detox:
Vegetables and Fruit that support Detoxification: dandelion greens, burdock root, and artichoke are the first line of support. Garlic, onions, and scallions are also helpful. Secondarily, eating lots of fresh green foods, such as spinach, kale, chard, broccoli, rapini, cabbage, arugula, zucchini, eggplant, tomato, avocado, are all helpful.
Lean Protein: Protein is required for detoxification, because blood proteins are built from amino acids. Lean protein such as free range, 100% grass fed beef, free range, organic chicken, wild-caught fish, are all important to maintain adequate amino acid balance while detoxifying. Other source can be from whey protein, nuts such as almonds, walnuts, and Brazil nuts. Nuts are excellent sources of fiber and minerals, especially magnesium and selenium, both vital for liver detoxification.
Herbs: Herbs such as turmeric, celandine, dandelion, bupleurum, burdock, milk thistle, are all helpful. Also useful are chlorella, spirulina, barley grass, wheat grass, and other fresh or freeze-dried green juices. These plants provide chlorophyll, a source of magnesium and oxygen, both highly supportive of the detoxification process.
In selecting a detoxification protocol, it's best to avoid extremes, fad diets, "miracle" products, and unproven technology.
The time-honored and well-tested methods of detoxification include fasting, juice-fasts or cleanses, and medical detoxification, which is a variation on the first two. Other adjunctive therapies like salt scrubs, salt or mineral baths, massages, saunas, sweat lodges, can all provide benefits, but should fit the state of the person doing the detoxifying. Above all, good results are most likely when the detox is safe and relatively comfortable, so that the process can be extended for long enough to be effective, and repeated at least annually, but perhaps as often as quarterly.
Cousens, Gabriel MD, Conscious Eating, North Atlantic Books, 1992
Reid, Daniel, Tao of Sex, Health, and Longevity, Simon & Schuster, 1989.
Fitzgerald, Patricia, The Detox Solution, Illumination Press, 2001.
About the authorLuke practices acupuncture, Oriental & natural medicine, and conducts wellness retreats in the mountain resort community of Breckenridge, Colorado.
He sees clients at Sacred Tree, an integrative healthcare & wellness spa, located at the base of Peak 8 at Blue Sky.
Visit us at http://www.sacredtree.com
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