How Our Bodies Detoxify
Last week we started answering the question, “Why Organic?”
While I am not hard-core about eating organic (at least not yet), I am aware every day in my work the large list of endocrine disruptors in our world nowadays. Eating organically grown and farmed food is one way to decrease the toxic load on our bodies.
This week I want to give you a very short summary of the areas of your body involved in the detox process.
Basically , you have three organs in your body to thank.
- The Gut
The first is your gut.
When your intestinal tract is healthy and functioning properly, you excrete most toxins that you ingest. When the lining of your gut is not impaired by inflammatory or immune responses, your body will break down foods correctly and take in nutrients appropriately.
- The Liver
The second major organ involved is your liver.
You know mostly your blood circulates through your arteries and veins and is pumped through your body by your heart? You may not have known that there is a pathway of blood flow that goes directly from your gut to your liver.
That means that toxins that enter your bloodstream through your gut (either the small amounts that may normally enter or a higher toxic load due to damaged or abnormal gut function) directly to your liver.
A healthy liver “oxidizes” the toxins it encounters. This can actually be a harmful process unless the normal next step occurs which is neutralization by antioxidants.
When the “free radicals” produced by oxidation are neutralized, they become harmless water-soluble substances which then go to the kidneys.
- The Kidneys
The third part of the detox process is where your kidneys filter out the toxins dissolved in your bloodstream that have made it through your gut and liver.
These water-soluble toxins are excreted in the urine.
When These Organs Don’t Work Properly
Two situations in the gut contribute to toxic overload. The first is if the gut is not moving along properly and waste material simply sits too long in the gut (such as with constipation). The other situation is when the lining of the gut is not working correctly due to damage by infectious organisms, inflammation due to toxins in our food, or immune reactions to certain foods.
When the liver is not working correctly, either the oxidation or the anti-oxidant steps may malfunction. In many cases of hormonal imbalance (including hypothyroidism, overweight or obesity), there is infiltration of fat tissue or improper cell function that interferes with the liver doing its job.
Toxins that are not processed correctly can store in fat tissue, brain tissue, and other areas of the nervous system. These stored toxins can then recirculate in the bloodstream and linger much longer than they are supposed to.
There are those who speak against the practice of eating organically grown and farmed food in order to decrease toxic load. We have a lot to learn about the impact of pesticides on our body’s ability to detoxify and keep us healthy.
I think while we are learning more about this topic, it makes sense to start to replace some of the thin-skinned foods we eat directly (such as the “dirty dozen” fruits and vegetables) with their organically grown counterparts.
Eating a variety and plentiful amount of fruits and vegetables – organic whenever possible – helps your gut, liver and kidneys do their jobs optimally.
Until you or I have the time, space and desire to grow our own food, I have now officially joined the growing movement to encourage eating organically grown and farmed food.