The Ultimate Liver Detox Guide: Phase I
By Angelique Johnson
The liver is a vital organ in your body located in the upper right quadrant of your abdomen, just below your diaphragm. It is responsible for many tasks, including protein synthesis and the production of biochemicals that are necessary for the digestion of the food you eat.
But it’s most important job lies in its responsibility to detoxify your body.
That’s right, every artificial chemical, drug, hormone and pesticide that enters your body is broken down by special enzymes that reside in your liver. Although the liver is responsible for directly metabolizing thousands of toxins, some of these toxins are fat-soluble and first get stored into your fatty deposits. These toxins are difficult to get rid of once they are stored in your fat.
In the fatty areas of your body, toxins can be stored for years and are only released when the fat is burned off by exercise, stress or fasting. When these toxins do release, you may experience unpleasant symptoms such as dizziness, fatigue, nausea, pain in your abdomen, brain fog or heart palpitations. When this happens, your liver takes over.
In fact, your body’s main army against toxin poisoning is your liver.
The liver has two ways in which it turns stubborn fat-soluble toxins into easily excretable water soluble toxins: Phase I and Phase II.
Phase I Liver Detox
In the first phase of liver detox, your liver can help get rid of the following toxins:
- Micro organisms
- Metabolic end products
- Food additives and preservatives
During Phase I detoxification, the liver performs two processes: oxidation reduction and hydrolysis.
Oxidation reduction is the transfer of electrons between two species. This process is used by most organisms to generate the majority of the energy they need to live.
Hydrolysis is the process of breaking a bond with water and is important because it works to metabolize and store energy.
Phase I detoxification is triggered by the cytochrome P450 enzyme, which is also responsible for helping to prevent cancer by removing carcinogens from your body. This enzyme is housed on the membrane of your liver cells (which are also known as hepatocytes). Your liver cells are specially programmed to activate the P450 enzymes, making your liver an important protective organ for your body against toxins.
The Phase I pathway helps to convert toxins in your body into less harmful toxins that are easier to flush out of your system. However, during this process, there are some free radicals that are produced. This is where fruits and vegetables come in.
Fruits and vegetables contain high amounts of antioxidants (i.e., vitamin C, vitamin E, carotenoids) that help reduce the damage caused by free radicals. If you are not eating enough fruits and vegetables, then your body will not have enough antioxidants to fight off those free radicals. Too many free radicals in the body can cause damage to the liver cells and if the toxins get too high in your body, they can have dangerous results.
These same excessive amounts of toxins in your body can also help to convert slightly harmless substances into extremely harmful substances (carcinogens). Too many toxins in the body (such as pesticides) can disrupt to P450 system, causing it to overwork itself.
This effect causes higher levels of free radicals being produced. If these toxins are not metabolised by Phase II of liver detoxification, it can cause damage to essential proteins and genes that are within your cells.
If you’re wanting to make sure your P450 enzyme is not working unpaid overtime, avoid the following list of P450 antagonists:
The powers of the P450 enzyme can help protect your body from the harmful effects of drugs, toxins or metabolites. However, eating a healthy varied diet can increase this power as P450 needs certain cofactors in order to be activated.
Some of these cofactors are:
- Riboflavin (vitamin B2)
- Niacin (vitamin B3)
- Indoles from vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and kale
- NADH (a coenzyme found in all living cells)
Unfortunately, the effects of the Phase I liver detoxification process start to decline as you age. Because aging also decreases blood flow to your liver, this further worsens the effects of a less active Phase I process. A sedentary life due to a lack of physical activity is one of the main causes of poor circulation to the liver. Poor nutrition as we age also lowers the detoxification process.
Stay tuned for Phase II of the ultimate liver detox guide!
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Angelique Johnson is a nutritionist from Miami, FL. Through her own journey in weight loss, she discovered her love for health and nutrition and realized she wanted to help others achieve a healthier lifestyle. Angelique has been featured as a nutrition consult on CBS4 Miami News and is a published author on many online health sites. She is passionate about debunking diet rumors and showing her clients how to have a healthy, balanced relationship with food.
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