Season 2 of the Science of Self-Healing Podcast has a NEW host! Please welcome Dr. James Odell, the Medical and Executive Director for BRMI, as well as a practicing naturopathic doctor for over 35 years.
Join Dr. James Odell as he uncovers the impact of toxins on our liver and how they lead to functional impairment, fatty liver disease, and weight gain. Explore the liver's detox pathways, learn about threatening toxins, and discover foods and supplements for optimal liver performance. Don't miss this episode—empower yourself for a healthier life with Dr. Odell.
Transcript for Optimizing Your Liver for Weight Loss Success
Dr. James Odell: Hello, everyone, and welcome to the Science of Self-Healing podcast. For health and wellness knowledge from a different perspective. Produced by the Bioregulatory Medicine Institute, also known as BRMI. We are your source for unparalleled information about how you can naturally support your body's ability to regulate, adapt, regenerate, and self-heal. I'm your host, Dr. James Odell, the medical and executive director for BRMI, as well as a practicing naturopathic doctor for over 35 years. And remember, this podcast is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for the direct care of a qualified health professional who oversees and provides unique and individual care. The information here is to broaden our different perspectives and should not be construed as medical advice or treatment. Let's get started.
In this podcast episode of the Science Of Self Healing, I will be discussing how our bodies are constantly inundated with toxins that can lead to functional liver impairment, fatty liver disease, and consequential weight gain.
The prevalence of obesity has been rising steadily for the past several decades all over the world, leading to an increase in the prevalence of many complications of body fat excess, some of which are well acknowledged, such as type two diabetes, fatty liver disease, cardiovascular disease, obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, and numerous other degenerative diseases.
Of course, weight gain can be caused by a multitude of factors. Physical inactivity is one of the most common causes of slow metabolism and weight gain, as well as excess sugars and carbohydrates. Some people exercise and even try dietary strategies of reducing sugars and carbs, but still struggle with weight gain.
This may be in part because the liver is burdened with a buildup of toxins. When the liver is overburdened and consequently unable to metabolize nutrients, sugars, and fats properly, it slows down. It slows down metabolism, leading to more serious health issues as well as weight gain and lethargy. Just feeling fatigued. Fat and toxins build up in the architecture of the liver and throughout the extracellular matrix. That's the space between the cells. It's the depository for these toxins.
Some of these toxins include environmental toxins such as herbicides, insecticides, fluoride in our water, microplastics, forever chemicals in the water, and so much more. Heavy metals such as mercury, lead, cadmium, beryllium, arsenic, and aluminum. Aluminum like from the air - from climate geoengineering, excess sugars from non natural food additives such as corn syrup, alcohol, processed food, rancid oils. Actually, the list of toxins is endless and more are added to our world every day, particularly in the world of cosmetics.
We have many articles in our BRMI website on environmental toxins, particularly on the detoxification of metals. A link to this is in our show notes.
So, the liver is largely responsible for detoxifying these substances and regulates most chemical levels in the blood. It manufactures and excretes bile that helps carry away the toxic waste from the liver. All the blood leaving the stomach and intestines passes through the liver. The liver processes this blood and breaks down, balances and creates the nutrients and metabolizes drugs into forms that are easier to use for the rest of the body, or that are nontoxic.
More than 500 functions have been identified with the liver. Some of the more well known functions include the following:
Production of bile, which helps carry away waste and breaks down fats in the small intestine during digestion.
Production of certain proteins for the blood plasma.
Production of cholesterol and special proteins that help carry fats through the body.
Conversion of excess glucose into glycogen for storage. Glycogen can be later converted back to glucose for energy and to balance and make glucose as needed.
Regulation of blood levels of amino acids, which form the building blocks of proteins.
Processing of hemoglobin for its use in iron content. The liver stores iron.
Conversion of poisonous ammonia into urea. Urea is the end product of protein metabolism and is excreted in the urine. This is the urea cycle and it's a very, very energy consuming cycle.
Clearing the blood of drugs and other poisonous substances.
Regulating blood clotting.
Resisting infections by making immune factors and removing bacteria from the bloodstream.
Clearance of bilirubin and other red blood cells. And if there's an accumulation of bilirubin, the skin and eyes turn yellow.
So, really there's many, many more functions of the liver than this. But these are the main ones.
When the liver has broken down harmful substances, its byproducts are excreted in the bile or blood. Bile products enter the intestine and leave the body in the form of feces. Blood byproducts are filtered out by the kidneys and leave the blood in the form of urine.
So let's talk a little bit about liver detoxification pathways. A toxic buildup can impede the liver's many functions and result in slow metabolism and weight gain. To prevent and reverse dysfunctional energetic metabolic slowdown and potential fatty liver disease, it is important to reduce exposure to these toxins and support the liver's natural detoxification process.
The liver makes use of three pathways to carry out detoxification work known as phase one, phase two, and phase three.
Phase One detoxification pathway is the first line of defense against toxins. It consists of oxidation, reduction and hydrolysis. It consists of a group of enzymes known as cytochrome P450 family which helps break down numerous substances. Enzymes break things down. To put it simply, this pathway enzymatically breaks down toxic chemical substances and provides a mechanism of protection from a wide variety of toxic chemicals.
During this process, free radicals are produced which, if excess, can damage the liver cells. Thus, antioxidants such as vitamin C and E and natural carotenoids reduce the damage caused by these free radicals. If antioxidants are lacking and toxic exposure is high, toxic chemicals that have been broken down by these enzymatic processes can become far more dangerous.
Excessive amounts of toxic chemicals such as pesticides can disrupt the P450 system by causing overactivity, or what is called induction of this pathway. This will result in high levels of damaging free radicals being produced. Thus, these byproducts of phase one liver detoxification can still pose a toxic threat to the body. Antioxidants help to neutralize some of these free radicals. If the toxins are allowed to build up and stay in the liver, they can damage the DNA and proteins. Not only are antioxidants important for phase one detoxification, but other substances like B vitamins, B2 and B3 like niacin, as well as minerals like magnesium, copper, selenium and certain indoles from cruciferous vegetables. That's the cabbage family again. Supplements that can improve phase one detoxification are antioxidants, B vitamins, minerals and cruciferous vegetables. All these can assist this phase one pathway.
Some substances may inhibit phase one enzymatic pathway. This situation can cause substantial problems that make toxins more potentially damaging because they remain in the body or in the liver longer before complete detoxification can occur.
Next is phase two detoxification. This is called the conjugation pathway whereby the liver cells add another substance such as cysteine, glycine, or a sulfur molecule to a toxic drug or chemical to render it less harmful. This makes the toxin or drug water soluble so it can be excreted from the body via watery fluids such as bile or urine. Phase two pathways are glutathione pathway, sulfate, glycine and glucuronide conjugations. Through conjugation, the liver can turn toxins, drugs and hormones into water soluble excretable substances. Toxins and drugs usually follow one or two distinctive pathways. For efficient phase two detoxification, the liver requires sulfur containing amino acids such as taurine and cysteine, n acetylcysteine or NAC. NAC is particularly helpful and is often supplemented at 500 to 1000 milligrams daily. Other nutrients like glycine, choline like as in phosphatidylcholine, inositol, and quercetin are also helpful for phase two detoxification. Cruciferous vegetables, again like in phase one, are also helpful. Raw garlic, onions, leeks, and shallots are all good sources of natural sulfur compounds to enhance phase two detoxification. Thus, these foods can be considered to have a cleansing action.
Next there is phase three, which is mostly about transportation and maintaining good gut health. This mainly refers to transport of phase two conjugates out of the liver with your bile into the small intestine for elimination via the stool. Phase three also includes transportation to the kidneys for further filtration and then out of the body via the urine. Phase three requires adequate hydration for the kidney - urine elimination is one of the most common problems people have if they are dehydrated. I recommend spring water. Pure spring water from the earth. Proper function of your GI system is also required so that you could eliminate waste well. This means daily elimination without constipation or sluggishness or loose stools or diarrhea.
This first consideration is herbs that help the liver produce bile. So we want to produce more bile so that we could eliminate more toxins from phase two.
One of my favorites is dandelion root or taraxacum. Both the root and the aerial parts of the plant are excellent in helping the liver secrete bile. This can be consumed as tea or in capsules or even as a tincture.
Also milk thistle, psilomerin or turmeric. The spiced turmeric added to food and citrus peel tea can help restore liver function.
Bitter greens and bitter gourd and artichokes are also beneficial. Once the bile bound toxins enter the small intestine, they are subject to the ecology of the gut, or the integrity of the intestinal microbiome. If the intestinal ecology is not healthy or is dysbiotic, these conjugated toxins can be reabsorbed into the circulation, particularly from the large intestine.
Pre and probiotics, pre and probiotics, are helpful for maintaining a good gut ecology. Probiotics are either non spore producing or spore producing. Most commercially available are non spore producing like Lactobacillus and bifidobacteria. There's many species and strains of those. It is best to purchase these cultures refrigerated and in multispecies.
Also, fermented foods such as yogurt, kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, tempeh and kafir contain natural occurring bacteria and are also prebiotic in nature. The prebiotics are fermentable fibers found in certain foods that are indigestible to humans. These fibers are fermented by the bacteria in your gut, also known as your microbiome. Prebiotics benefit the growth of the healthy bacteria living in your gut, so they're food for your bacteria. Garlic acts as a prebiotic by promoting the growth of the beneficial bifidobacteria in the gut. It also helps prevent disease from proliferating bacteria in your gut. It's important to have adequate fiber for the elimination of intestinal waste.
One of the best fiber and prebiotic sources are flaxseeds. The fiber in flax seeds promotes healthy gut bacteria, encourages regular bowel movements and reduces the amount of dietary fat you digest and absorb. Also, because they contain phenolic antioxidants, flaxseeds also are anticancerous in antioxidative properties and help regulate blood sugar levels.
It's important to note that the reabsorption of toxins in the gut is not a normal or desirable function.
Maintaining a healthy intestinal ecology is crucial to prevent the reabsorption of these harmful substances and maintain overall well being. If you suspect issues with the intestinal ecology or altered bowel permeability, also called leaky gut, it's advisable to consult a healthcare professional versed in the intestinal microbiome for evaluation and guidance on maintaining or restoring gut health.
So I'm going to try to put all this together for you. In order to maintain a healthy weight and lose excess fat, in addition to dietary strategies in increasing exercise, it is helpful to assist the liver in its detoxification function - phase one, phase two and phase three.
B vitamins and antioxidants are helpful for phase one detoxification. Sulfur bearing aminos like n acetylcysteine or NAC and taurine and cruciferous vegetables assist phase two pre and probiotics and fiber assist phase three by helping with the elimination of these bile conjugated toxins. When these detoxification pathways are overwhelmed or not functioning properly, toxins can accumulate or get trapped in the liver architecture and develop into a fatty liver issue. Toxins also get stored in the body's extracellular matrix.
The good news is that you can enhance the detoxification process by providing specific nutrients and reducing the consumption of sugar. The average American adult is packed with too many calories in added sugar. A recent study found that the average American consumes 17 teaspoons of added sugar on a daily basis.
Many people have found that adding smoothies to their daily routine also helps to curb their cravings for unhealthy foods. Particularly smoothies that contain green vegetables like kale, celery and spinach provide many health benefits. It is recommended to rotate your greens. Don't have the same greens every day. This will ensure you get a wide variety of nutrients. If you add barley, grass or wheatgrass or chlorella, algae and berries for taste, this even makes it better.
Green leaves don't have starch, while vegetables such as carrots, beets, broccoli, zucchini, daikon, et cetera have starch. So starchy vegetables combined with fruit may cause bloating. Contrary to that, fiber in green leaves helps to slow the absorption of sugar and fruit and makes this combination very beneficial. So think of leafy greens. If you choose, you could add mint or ginger to your smoothie for extra flavor.
It is also worth looking into intermittent fasting. We have an article on our website explaining these useful dietary routines. Check on our show notes for this link.
Lastly, sauna sessions are very, very beneficial. In a sauna, your body temperature raises and you sweat profusely. This sweating helps to flush out toxins and impurities from the tissues of your skin. It is said your skin is like your third kidney and with a sauna can eliminate large amounts of waste. In addition, saunas can improve circulation and boost your immune system too.
If you're a little confused about how to get started with a liver support regime, do not consult Dr. Google. Find a practitioner versed in detoxification and weight management.
Well, that concludes another podcast session. Please tune in in two weeks for another episode of the Science of Self-Healing. Until then, be well.
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Learn more about metal detoxification here.
Learn more about intermittent fasting here.