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.

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