For the Pollution Within
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For the Pollution Within by Jordan Rubin
Thanks to the industrial revolution, our planet will never be the same. There are now more than 10,000 chemicals being commercially produced and over one million have been synthesized at one time or another. Unfortunately, these chemicals also find their way where they are not supposed to be - into our food, our water supply, and eventually into our bodies. Sometimes they stick around there for a long time – years, and even decades.
How can you help your body get rid of these chemical intruders robbing you of your full health potential? Elimination of toxins from the body consists of two mechanisms: biotransformation and excretion, or removal. Biotransformation is the process by which a chemical is converted to a form that makes it easier for the body to dispose of. Removal, on the other hand, includes all the routes through which the chemicals can be eliminated from the body such as through bile and the digestive tract, urinary tract, skin, and even exhalation.
When it comes to biotransformation, the liver plays a critical role. Liver cells have the ability to produce special enzymes, called biotransformation enzymes, responsible for intracellular detoxification. Certain herbs are known to support this cleansing mechanism in the liver cells. Milk thistle was used in ancient Greece and modern science has confirmed its liver-supporting properties. Human studies demonstrate that when the herb is ingested it can result in increased biotransformation of these toxins and support the functioning of a healthy liver. Following biotransformation in the liver cells, modified chemicals are expelled via bile into the digestive tract. Herbs that support bile production include yarrow, dandelion, and some culinary spices such as bishop’s weed and fenugreek.
Once toxins are in the digestive tract, they become subject to reabsorbtion into the bloodstream and will have to travel through the liver again in order to leave the body. This phenomenon is called enterohepatic recirculation and may occur several times before complete elimination of the chemical from the body. Disrupting this vicious cycle by somehow trapping chemicals in the digestive tract so they could be removed via intestinal excretion would help the body to get rid of toxins more efficiently.
A recent scientific breakthrough has been made regarding our understanding of the role dietary fiber plays in detoxification. Following ingestion, fiber acts like a sponge absorbing the contents, including toxins present in the digestive tract. As the fiber sponge moves along, it reaches the segments of the digestive tract heavily occupied by intestinal microorganisms. These bacteria are hungry for nourishment and will gladly use fiber for their growth. As fiber is “eaten”, or broken down by bacteria, so is its absorbing ability. As a result, toxins may once again become subject to enterohepatic recirculation.
When it comes to the susceptibility of fiber to degradation by intestinal microflora, not all types of fiber are alike. For example, psyllium, maltodextrin, pectin and guar gum are highly fermentable, or highly susceptible to degradation; whereas flax, pea, rice and pear fibers are resistant to fermentation. Using fermentation-resistant types of fiber supports maximum elimination of toxins via digestive tract because they minimize enterohepatic circulation.
Chemicals trapped within the matrix of fermentation-resistant fiber are now ready for the transport out of the body. To facilitate this process, one can utilize a variety of measures, including conventional laxatives. However, some of these are better for the intestinal epithelium then others. Perhaps the gentlest approach is to use natural salts of magnesium such as Epsom salt. It works by attracting water to the colon thus supporting hydration of the intestinal content and moving it through the digestive tract without abrasiveness, for optimal gentle elimination.