Your liver is the most important and most stalwart organ of detoxification in your body. Even when the majority of its mass has been removed, or is compromised with toxic build up, it will continuously process everything we put in our mouths and on our skin. Regulating over 500 biochemical reactions, the liver functions like a complex factory that manufactures certain compounds, detoxifies others, and directs hormones all over the body for use, storage or excretion.
Two pathways in the liver carry out the heavy duty work of detoxification. Think of them as two assembly lines – the phase 1 and phase 2 lines or pathways. Phase 1 is the breakdown or oxidation line, the end products of which are raw building blocks phase 2, which builds new, more complex compounds. This week the topic is Phase 1 nutrition support.
Maximize Phase 1 Detox with B vitamins and Antioxidants
The Phase 1 oxidative line’s efficiency depends on the effectiveness of the enzymes which act as groups of assembly line workers. The productivity of line workers such as the cytochrome P450 group, the most important cluster of breakdown enzymes, is dependent on the presence or absence of certain nutrients that can speed them up or slow them down. Genetics, exercise, drug use and other lifestyle choices can also affect the efficiency of Phase 1 enzymes.
B vitamins (thiamin, niacin, riboflavin) are imperative to Phase 1 liver detoxification. Luckily, B vitamins are widely available from whole grains, legumes, and leafy green foliage but keep in mind, the greater one’s oxidative stress level, the higher the need for B’s.
There are nine B vitamins collectively known as the B complex and all are required in liver detoxification as well as carbohydrate metabolism and other essential metabolic processes. Constant intake of B vitamins is critical as they are all water-soluble, meaning that they are not really stored in the body but excreted in the urine on a daily basis. Thiamin (B1), niacin (B2), riboflavin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), biotin (B7), folic acid (B9) and cyanocobalamin (B12) are found in whole, unprocessed foods; Processed foods, like ready-to-eat cold cereals and pasta, often have folic acid, thiamin, niacin and riboflavin added back to them (enriched) because the outer hull of the grain has been stripped off. Here are the best (natural) sources of B vitamins:
Tuna, sunflower seeds, pork tenderloin, sesame seeds, black and pinto beans, green peas, flaxseed, oats
Cremini and shiitake mushrooms, yeast extract spread, organic organ meats, Skipjack tuna, Chum salmon
Yeast extract spread, organic organ meats, raw goat’s milk, eggs
Shiitake mushrooms, organic organ meats, eggs, broccoli
Chickpeas, garlic, tuna, cauliflower, mustard greens
Egg yolk, organic liver, nutritional brewer’s yeast
Romaine lettuce, spinach, asparagus, turnip and mustard greens, organic calf’s liver
Organic calf’s liver, sardines, salmon
Other nutrients that work together to optimize Phase 1 effectiveness include magnesium, your standard antioxidant combo of vitamin A precursors (carotenoids), vitamin C and E, and some lesser known antioxidants such as quercetin, glutathione and N-acetyl cysteine (NAC). These antioxidants play a supporting role, bolstering the Phase 1 assembly line workers when they are working to the max.
NEXT WEEK: Liver Detox Part 2/Phase 2