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Top 3 Detoxifying Ingredients
Top 3 Detoxifying Ingredients
You know when it’s time to clear out the clutter and give your living space a deep cleaning. But what about your internal environment? Every day, we are bombarded with toxins. Some come from external sources, such as alcohol, tobacco, drugs, pesticides, heavy metals, processed foods, fire retardants and chemical plasticizers like bisphenol-A. Others, such as metabolic waste and free radicals, are created internally by the body itself.
In a perfect world, your body could flush out any toxins you encounter. But according to a 2009 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, even the most health-conscious among us can be overwhelmed by everyday contaminants. Many of these toxins accumulate in fat tissue, eventually leading to chronic health problems, notes Walter Crinnion, ND, in Clean, Green & Lean (Wiley, 2010). “No one is immune,” he says.
Periodic detoxification can help remove contaminants from your body. Two of the most popular ways to detox—the Master Cleanse and the Fruit Flush—rely on fasting to “cleanse” the body. Yet while these detox diets can get rid of water weight and pack a wallop of vitamins, antioxidants and fiber, “There's little evidence that detox diets actually remove toxins from the body,” says nutritionist Katherine Zeratsky, RD, of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. Instead, try these three proven supplements that work together to enhance the body’s own detoxification system.
Often called the “master antioxidant,” glutathione is a small molecule made up of three amino acids—cysteine, glycine and glutamine—found in every cell in the body. Czech researchers confirmed that along with quenching the free radicals in the liver, glutathione also plays a critical role in the second part of the body’s two-step detoxification process. These findings were published in 2010 in the Biomedical Papers of the Medical Faculty of the University Palacky, Olomouc, Czechoslovakia.
A 2011 study from the University of Colorado, Denver, which appeared in the journal Respiratory Research, suggests that glutathione also combines with pollutants like those in cigarette smoke and auto exhaust so they can be safely excreted by the body.
Under optimal circumstances, your body produces all of the glutathione it needs. But, as the Respiratory Research study showed, neutralizing environmental toxins can deplete your glutathione stores. That’s why it’s important to supplement with 250 mg of reduced glutathione a day.
When healthy, your liver works like a well-organized sanitation system, removing impurities from the blood and producing bile, which carries pollutants out of the body through the lungs, intestines, skin or urine. This hardworking organ also produces essential enzymes that help break down toxins, rendering them harmless. One of the most effective herbs to support these liver functions is milk thistle.
A 2007 study in Basic Clinical Pharmacology & Toxicology reported that silymarin, the key compound in milk thistle, is a potent antioxidant and intermediate in cell metabolism. “By binding to the outer membranes of liver cells, silymarin acts like a shield, protecting them from damaging chemicals and toxins,” Crinnion says. Silymarin also prevents the depletion of glutathione. Look for a milk thistle supplement standardized to at least 70 percent silymarin. Clinical trials have used 200 to 400 mg daily.
Fiber, especially insoluble fiber like psyllium and wheat bran, is essential for effective detoxification. “Good fiber helps usher toxins out of the body,” Crinnion explains. As the results of a 2008 trial in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition show, consuming more fiber reduces gastrointestinal transit time and increases the frequency of bowel movements.
Earlier research suggests that fiber also interacts directly with toxins. In a 2000 review published in Mutagenic Research, researchers found that wheat bran binds with cancer-causing compounds so they can be eliminated from the body. A 1998 study at Purdue University, which appeared in The Journal of Nutrition, found that psyllium also helps detoxify the body by increasing bile and trapping toxins, including environmental estrogens.
The American Dietetic Association reports that most of us don't even come close to the recommended daily intake of the 20 to 35 grams of fiber we need to reap these benefits. You can correct this deficiency by eating more fiber-rich foods like whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables. You can also take supplemental fiber in either powder or capsule form—with plenty of water—to help purge toxins from your digestive tract.