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Liver Detox Pathways Require Essential Nutrients

Detoxification is the process in which the body eliminates or neutralizes toxic substances. Toxins come from various sources including the air, diet, drugs, alcohol, smoking, as well as metabolic by-products. Thus, lifestyle factors play a significant role in the accumulation of toxins. The build-up of toxins results in cellular damage, and eventually chronic disease.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that almost half of American adults have at least one chronic disease. Chronic diseases including heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and arthritis are among the most common, costly, and preventable of all health problems in the U.S..

The bodies detox systems are truly incredible, way beyond human understanding. Our responsibility is to support the basic nutritional requirements and not overload the detox systems with an excessive lifestyle, and let the body do what ONLY it can do.

So Where Do I Start?

One of the most important principles of detoxification is that you need to clean your bowels first and replenish its normal ecology through the eradication of pathogens and the reintroduction of good bacteria through pro-biotics. It’s always best if you can, that you improve your body’s ability to detoxify (more on that here) before taking on any other major health issue. The phrase: “You need to clean downstream before you can clean upstream”, implies that you should clean your bowels first, otherwise you will be sending dirty water from the gut to a clean chemical plant at the liver! This is a common cause for so called detoxification-illness.

The effects of poor detoxification is involved in more diseases and disorders than you possibly imagined. Many people will have developed a leaky gut or ‘irritable bowel syndrome’ by the time they notice they are ill, and so often the gut lining needs to be repaired before detoxification can be undertaken. Make sure you get your gut health better before taking compounds to assist your liver pathways. This is a vital step not to miss out! Auto-intoxification is a big problem of the 21st century and may play a significant role in, or exacerbating the symptoms of conditions such as:

  • acidosis
  • alopecia
  • arthritis
  • diabetes
  • acid reflux
  • chronic fatigue
  • brain fog
  • gout
  • osteoporosis
  • prostate and reproductive disorders
  • learning disorders
  • hypertension
  • a host of nervous disorders and neurological disorders
  • weakened immune system function
  • muscle weakness
  • pains
  • cancer
  • and skin disorders such as eczema, psoriasis, and skin rashes may manifest.

Another vital consideration before beginning a heavy detoxification program is to ensure that your metabolism is up to the task, by addressing your adrenals and thyroid. So look into supporting your hormonal system and work on supporting your adrenals first. After addressing your liver pathways continue down your detoxification path to remove offending metals e.g with oral chelation.

What About The Liver?

Your liver is very good at deciding what needs to be kept and what needs to be removed. It functions like a massive chemical plant that manufactures certain compounds, detoxifies dangerous compounds, and directs substances all over the body for use, storage or excretion. Healing and health is not possible if ‘toxicity’ cannot be removed from the body. Prepare your body to cope naturally with the toxicity that has to be cleansed from the organism on a daily basis.


The body utilizes several routes of detoxification including the major organs of the skin, lungs, kidneys, liver, and intestines, the major lymphatic and cardiovascular and the cellular systems. While each of the seven key detox pathways play an important role in keeping your body clean and healthy, your liver is the primary detoxification pathway responsible for processing all of the endogenous and exogenous chemicals within your body. So while turning of the toxic onslaught in the home is your first step, assisting the liver function in every way possible is also uiresa crucial step.

The Liver Is Number One!

The liver is one of the most important organs in the body when it comes to detoxifying or getting rid of foreign substances or toxins, and it neutralizes a wide range of toxic chemicals, both those produced internally and those coming from the environment. To put it simply, this detox pathway converts a toxic chemical into a less harmful chemical. Generally speaking stress in any form weakens the immune system and allows these pathogens to gain a foothold in the body.

Why is it important to have your detox pathways working uninhibited by your immune system?

Over time the immune system weakens to identifying the presence of the pathogen, like princess sitting on the pea, until over time it stops noticing the irritation. Patients will go through cycles of feeling better but not their old self and then feeling weak and tired again. This is because the pathogen gains a foothold as the body runs out of nutrients, and so begins a compromised fight that does not completely eradicate the pathogen but at best only keeps it under check.

Over time this round robin cycle fatigues the immune system and also weakens the adrenal glands causing adrenal fatigue and exhaustion. Once the adrenal glands become exhausted, the cells don’t repair themselves easily or overnight and never when a pathogen continues to co-exist. This escalates to the extent that it can cause chronic fatigue if not something worse, typically as a result of excess toxicity along with long standing nutritional deficiencies.

In order for the body to process nutrients, antibiotics, or herbal and homeopathic remedies to produce healing it has to be able to assimilate nutrients and eliminate waste efficiently. The tendency of a pathogen to cause damage to a host’s fitness has increased because these non-end-product metabolites have become a significant problem in this age of conventionally grown foods and poor diets.

Optimally, the normal metabolic processes of the liver produce a wide range of chemicals and hormones for which the liver has evolved efficient neutralizing mechanisms. This will always result in high levels of damaging free radicals being produced. However, the level and type of internally produced toxins increases greatly when metabolic processes go awry.

The more chronically ill a person is, the more need they have to clean up their detox pathways, but the more likely their immune system has developed a “recognition” to a key detoxification metabolite that cause further imbalance. Without adequate free radical defenses, every time the liver neutralizes a toxin exposure, it is further damaged by the free radicals produced.

The Liver Actually Controls Two Primary Detox Processes

Each minute, nearly one-third of the total body blood flow is pumped through the liver. The liver filters the blood and removes harmful substances such as drugs, bacteria, toxins and foreign proteins. The liver plays several roles in detoxification: it filters the blood to remove large toxins, synthesizes and secretes bile full of cholesterol and other fat-soluble toxins, and enzymatically disassembles unwanted chemicals. This enzymatic process usually occurs in two steps referred to as phase I and phase II.

Phase I

Phase I either directly neutralizes a toxin, or modifies the toxic chemical to form activated intermediates which are then neutralized by one of more of the several phase II enzyme systems. The first step is the filtration of toxins. This is absolutely critical as the blood from the intestines contains high levels of bacteria, bacterial endotoxins, antigen-antibody complexes, and various other toxic substances. When working properly, the liver clears 99% of the bacteria and other toxins during the first pass. However, when the liver is damaged, such as in alcoholics, the passage of toxins increases by over a factor of 10.

Although Phase 1 is crucial for detoxification, it poses risks. Sometimes the end product of Phase 1 detoxification is more dangerous than the compound being detoxified. Benzene, for example, is a dangerous organic solvent, is present in gasoline and cigarettes, and a known carcinogen. (7) Phase 1 enzymes oxidize benzene, producing benzene quinones, which are a source of increased toxicity. (8) To complete the detoxification of benzene, your liver relies on Phase Two enzymes, which are described below.
The bottom line on Phase 1 detoxification is: you need it but you don’t want Phase 1 activity to exceed the ability of your liver’s Phase II enzymes to finish the job, otherwise you’re in trouble.

Increased Phase 1 Liver Activity without a balancing increase in Phase II activity can be caused by: Tobacco smoke, high alcohol intake, consumption of standard vegetable oils, eating char-broiled meats, consuming BHT medications can also increase or decrease Phase 1 liver activity in ways that are highly specific to the drug and its duration of use. Intense scientific research being done around the world is examining how nutrition can help facilitate the detoxification process.

Zinc plays an essential role in Phase I detoxification.

A deficiency of zinc doesn’t stop Phase I detoxification, but shifts the activity of Phase I enzymes in a direction that encourages the formation of cancer promoting chemicals. In my clinical experience, zinc deficiency, as measured by low plasma zinc levels, is quite common in the United States. Few foods are really rich in zinc, so supplementation is often useful. Scientists from the University of San Francisco note,  “A judicious choice of food will counteract noxious agents. Therefore, the diet can be a major factor in determining who does and who does not show toxic symptoms following exposure.”

Phase II

The liver’s second detoxification process involves the synthesis and secretion of bile. Each day the liver manufactures approximately 1 quart of bile, which serves as a carrier in which many toxic substances are dumped into the intestines. In the intestines, the bile and its toxic load are absorbed by fiber and excreted. However, a diet low in fiber results in inadequate binding and reabsorption of the toxins. This problem is magnified when inefficient or bad bacteria in the intestine modify these toxins to more damaging forms. Anyway, intestine health is also an important aspect of your health as nobody wants to end up having serious health problems and looking for ostomy support from Stealth Belt.

To rid itself of toxins produced by Phase I detoxification, the liver performs a second phase, called conjugation. In this phase, oxidized chemicals are combined with sulfur, specific amino acids, or organic acids, and then excreted in bile. This phase of liver detoxification is inhibited by nutritional deficiency, toxic exposures, and medications such as acetaminophen (brand name Tylenol), alcohol consumption, and a low protein intake that deplete glutathione which is needed for acetaminophen detoxification.

The most important amino acids for Phase Two detoxification are cysteine and methionine. These two amino acids are the main dietary sources of sulfur, and are found in meat, fish, poultry, eggs and dairy products. Vegetarian sources of cysteine and methionine include nuts, seeds and beans. The usual adult RDA of cysteine and methionine is 700 to 1000 mg. per day, but is never fixed, because it fluctuates with the liver’s burden of toxic compounds. The body’s stores of these amino acids are depleted in the process of detoxification, so the greater the toxic stress, the more the body demands.

Bioflavonoids may also be beneficial for stimulating Phase II enzymes in Detoxification. Bioflavonoids are abundant in fruit, vegetables and tea, and are the active ingredient in many herbs. Research indicates that bioflavonoids can facilitate the detoxification process. Scientists from the University of Seville in Spain note that the bioflavonoid luteolin has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial activities and may help detoxification. Luteolin is found in vegetables such as peppers, celery, carrots, in herbs such as rosemary, thyme, oregano and peppermint, and in olive oil. A prime example is St Mary’s or milk thistle, an herbal (folk) remedy for the liver. The active ingredients are a group of bioflavonoids collectively called silymarin.

You can help to support your liver’s two-phase detoxification process by making sure your diet includes the following foods and nutrients which make up the overall 90 nutrient profile. While we include here foods that would optimally contain these nutrients, its unusual to find them in todays manipulated crops grown on over-utilised soils, so supplementation is essential for optimal results:

Nutrients necessary for Phase 1:

  • B-Vitamins (B2, B3, B6, B12, folic acid)
  • Flavonoids, found in organic fruits and vegetables
  • Foods rich in vitamins A, C and E (eg, carrots, oranges, wheat germ, almonds)
  • Glutathione, found in avocado, watermelon, asparagus, walnuts, fresh fruits and veggies. Nutrients that increase glutathione levels include n-acetylcysteine, cysteine and methionine.
  • Branched chain amino acids, found in animal protein (dairy products, red meat, eggs and whey protein)
  • Phospholipids, found in eggs, lean meats, organ meats, fish and soybeans

Nutrients necessary for Phase 2:

  • Indole-3-carbinol, found in cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts
  • Limonene, found in oranges, tangerines, caraway seeds and dill seeds
  • Glutathione, found in avocado, watermelon, asparagus, walnuts, fresh fruits and veggies. Nutrients that increase glutathione levels include n-acetylcysteine, cysteine and methionine.
  • Fish oil
  • Amino acids (protein)

Generally speaking, eating a high quality, whole foods diet that includes ample healthy sources of protein, fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as adequate supplementation including minerals and antioxidants will be beneficial for your liver. Contact your Savvy Team support for information on the supplement regime for an optimal and effective detoxification program.

Proper functioning of the liver’s detoxification systems is especially important for the prevention of cancer. Up to 90% of all cancers are thought to be due to the effects of environmental carcinogens and other toxins, such as those in cigarette smoke, food, water, and air, combined with deficiencies of the nutrients the body needs for proper functioning of the detoxification and immune systems. The level and effects of exposure to environmental carcinogens varies widely, as does the efficiency of the detoxification enzymes, particularly phase II. High levels of exposure to carcinogens coupled with slow detoxification enzymes significantly increases susceptibility to cancer.

Keeping It Simple

What’s important to keep in mind is that there are two specific liver pathways by which the body detoxifies harmful substances and it’s essential to support both of these pathways in order to detoxify effectively. Supporting only one of the detoxification pathways can actually do more harm than good. In our ongoing discussion on detoxification we’ve discussed the dangers of toxic deposits to your health, and here we show why nutritient supplementation is essential for optimal detoxification.

When educating individuals on this critical balance, one can compare this overall process to a relay race and the passing of a “toxic baton” from one runner to another. If either phase I or phase II is inefficient at passing the baton, the race is lost for optimal wellness. It is only through the maximum effort of each member of the team that ultimately yields the best results and ultimate victory. And so it is with the liver function.

Optimizing Nutritional Saturation

“Our understanding of what the body needs to detoxify has been revolutionized by scientific research, teaching us the powerful role that enhanced nutrition plays in the process of detoxification, health and healing.” Dr. Leo Galland. It is critical to restore the proper amount of vitamins and minerals within a person’s body before, during and after detoxification. Without these, the results will be less than optimal. It would be similar to building a house with lumber, drywall, and shingles without having the nails, nuts, and bolts to hold it all together.

Ensuring that both phase I and phase II detox pathways of the liver are optimally fueled with the critical 90 nutrients is vitally important to prevent potential destructive toxic build up and cellular damage.  Many people have gone to their doctors, had blood tests run and were told their liver enzymes were fine, but these same people knew that every time they tried to take a chelator to excrete heavy metals from their body, or take green food powders or even a herbal detoxifier they felt even sicker. Why is that?

It’s usually because they have a compromised liver detoxification pathway. While Western medicine tends to see the issue (this ‘sick’ feeling) as something to be avoided, other health practitioners understand that improving the function of the liver necessitates a process of detoxification. Along with the program that facilitates this detoxification comes a healing reaction known as a ‘healing crisis‘. Furthermore, the inevitable detox reaction created by oral nutrition  in their first weeks of the program is often very difficult for chronically ill people, because the effects of detox usually lead to an upset stomach or intestinal problems or both.

Both Western and Integrative medicine agree that the more compromised the liver’s ability to break down and bind circulating toxins (food metabolities, pathogen metabolities, drug metabolities, metals, pesticides, herbicides, petrochemicals from our air and food and water) the more compromised the immune system has become. Often nutriceutical liquid vitamin and mineral supplements provided with proper fluids are a good alternative during the early stages of drug treatment if people have a problem taking pills.

Protein and green food powders provided through smoothies or shakes during the early phases of treatment if someone is quite toxic and are also a good solution to help the persons body regain strength and muscle mass without the need for too much solid foods. Other important foods to take include raw fruits and vegetables. These will help remove toxins from the body and normalize the intestinal function.

Lots of fresh water and even green tea are also good to ingest as these contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. And finally, there are also specific minerals which restore healthy liver function, and contact us at: for more info on that.

The key to a healthy liver is a functioning detox pathway and involves optimal function of the immune system, so seek appropriate advice on this. By the way you don’t need to have elevated liver enzymes to have compromised liver detoxification pathways, if you suffer from digestive upsets, food allergies, headaches, skin problems, constant tiredness, colds or flu you will know.

To summarise:

  • Tackle your gut first. Perhaps get a stool test and definitely use pro-biotics, adjust the diet, and use supplements to heal the gut lining.
  • Look into your hormonal system. Work on balancing your hormones (and progesterone levels), then support your adrenals and thereafter look towards your thyroid, via thyroid support, in order to begin moving your body towards stability.
  • Address your liver pathways if necessary (as above), and:
  • Continue down your detoxification path to remove offending metals e.g with oral chelation.

Please note:
Information on this site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

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