Friday, July 15, 2011

Liver Detoxification

There is a connection between toxicity and disease. In 2010, Drs. Duk Hee Lee and David R Jacobs concluded that obesity alone did not lead to Type 2 diabetes. Persistent organic pollutants (POPs,) namely pesticides, must also be present in the adipose tissue, or fat, for this disease to manifest. (1)

Further, these two doctors did another study which showed that various POPs (BPA, dioxin) found in the blood contributed to the cardiovascular disease. Surprisingly, pollutants had varied effects based on sex. (2)

Many of these toxins are fat-soluble and are therefore stored in the adipose tissue (fat cells.) Their presence can contribute to difficult weight loss and obesity by means of causing insulin resistance. They are also a contributing factor in cancer, infertility, Alzheimer’s disease, coronary heart disease, and fibromyalgia.

A properly functioning liver can help rid the body of toxins. Detoxification takes place in two phases. During Phase I, dangerous substances are made less harmful through a conversion which also produces free radicals. During Phase II the substances are made water-soluble and are ready to be excreted from the body.

Many nutrients are crucial in supporting this process. Glutathione is an antioxidant that will combat the effect of the free radicals produced during Phase I.  One of its building blocks is sulphur which can be found in cabbage, onion, garlic and broccoli. Other nutrients needed during Phase I detoxification are folic acid, found in spinach and orange juice; flavonoids, found in fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices and beans; and for the B vitamins: spinach, asparagus, bell peppers, broccoli, and cabbage.

Phase II nutrients include methionine. Methionine is mainly found in dairy, nuts, and eggs. For anyone on an allergen-free diet, the best food sources include sesame seeds, tahini, sunflower seeds and navy beans. Cystine is another nutrient that can be challenging for someone on an allergen-free diet. It is mainly found in dairy and wheat germ, but can also be obtained by eating poultry and oats. Other food-based components important to Phase II detoxification can be found in the following allergen-free foods: poultry, seaweed, meats, carob, cocoa; many are not included in a vegan diet.


Sometimes supplementation is important, but the best way to absorb nutrients is through fresh foods. Try the Caliente Cabbage Salad (click for recipe) and the Pomegranate Orange Salad Dressing (click for recipe) with fresh spinach as a delicious way to acquire many of the nutrients needed to support liver detoxification.

Eat well and be well, 


(1) Duk-Hee Lee, MD, PHD, P. Monica Lind, PHD, David R. Jacobs Jr., PHD, Damira Salihovic, MSC, Bert van Bavel, PHD, and Lars Lind, MD, PHD; Polychlorinated Biphenyls and Organochlorine Pesticide in Plasma Predict Development of Type 2 Diabetes in the Elderly: The Prospective Investigation of the Vasculature in Uppsala Seniors (PIVUS) Study; Diabetes Care, June 23, 2011

(2) Myung-Hwa Ha, Duk-Hee Lee, and David R. Jacobs, Jr.Association between Serum Concentrations of Persistent Organic Pollutants and Self-Reported Cardiovascular Disease Prevalence: Results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1999–2002; 
Environ Health Perspect. 2007 August; 115(8): 1204–1209.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Heavy Metal Toxicity

Heavy metals occur both naturally in the environment and as a toxic by-product of industry. They make their way from the earth into our water supply.  Eventually, they enter the food supply and are unknowingly consumed. The most harmful among them are lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic, and aluminum. They are commonly found in cookware, household paint, reclaimed wood, gas fumes, fertilizers, tobacco smoke, and amalgam dental fillings.  

Of the many health conditions that are associated with heavy metal toxicity, the most common include; migraine headaches, fibromyalgia, chemical sensitivity, nausea, Alzheimer’s disease, allergies, hair loss, dry skin, diarrhea, PMS, confusion, arthritis, learning disabilities, etc. (1) (2)

If in a healthy state, the body will rid itself of these poisons.  Otherwise, these metals will be stored in the organs and tissues, mainly adipose tissue -- otherwise known as fat. They can contribute to difficult weight loss since fat storage is a way for the body to dilute the levels of metals in the body.

The organs most important to detoxification are the intestine, liver and kidneys.  The intestines and kidneys are the organs of elimination. And the liver plays a vital role in cleansing the blood and making toxins inert. Before starting any heavy metal detoxification, these organs must be in good working order. If a detoxification program is attempted before these organs are healthy, the metals may be released from the tissues, but still remain active as free radicals and cause further damage before being stored again in the organs and tissues.

A diet rich in fiber helps the intestines function properly.  Additionally, consuming healthy fats and oils, such as cold pressed extra virgin olive oil and avocados will help the body remove these dangerous substances through the liver.  Plenty of water will help to flush out the kidneys.

Further, a balance in the complex synergy between trace minerals is key in the removal of toxic metals. This includes metals such as zinc. Zinc is important to aid in the removal of cadmium and lead. If Zinc levels become depleted, copper toxicity may arise. Copper is necessary in the body for the formation of red blood cells and elastin. It works optimally when in balance with zinc and in the presence of vitamin C.  Zinc is also important for reproductive health, as well as immune system function. 

Taking biochemical individuality into consideration, a hair mineral analysis is one of the best ways to determine an appropriate approach to detoxification for an individual. This empirical scientific data establishes a base line for health as well as determines any toxicity that may be present.  It is one of the most effective course of action for health concerns.

Dr. Yoshiaki Omura is the president and founder of the International College of Acupuncture and Electro-Therapeutics, a former professor at Columbia Medical School, and a member of the New York State Society of Medical Examiners. In a 1995 study, he discovered that cilantro helps remove mercury from the body through chelation. In a matter of two weeks tissue begins to heal and his patients had fewer occurrences of viral and bacterial infections.(3) Further, cilantro has also shown to aid in the chelation of lead and aluminum. 

Hippocrates, the father of medicine, said, "Let medicine be thy food, and food be thy medicine.”  

If a mercury, lead, or aluminum toxicity has been established with a health care practitioner or by other verifiable scientific lab work, then consuming cilantro can aid in the removal of these heavy metals from the body.This Cilantro Lime Refresher (click for recipe) is a healthy, tasty way to start your day. It provides a gentle detoxification, and should be done for a month before retesting for the presence of heavy metals. The lime in this beverage provides vitamin C which is necessary for tissue regeneration and plenty of fiber to keep things moving through the digestive system.  After the metals are no longer detected, the Cilantro Lime Refresher can be incorporated into the diet occasionally as a preventative.

Eat well and be well,


(1) Detoxification, Advanced Nutrition Publications Inc., 2006
(2) Prescription for Nutritional Healing, Phyllis A Balch & James F Balch, Penguin Putnam, Inc., 2000
(3) Omura Y, Shimotsuura Y, Fukuoka A, Fukuoka H, Nomoto T. Acupunct Electrother Res. 1996; 21(2): 133-160.