(Eating a diet of vegetables, nuts and fruist, especially such as broccoli, spinach and cauliflower will improve your body’s detoxification process)
Alright, this 5th part is going to be about the body’s detoxification, how it works and what you can do to improve its function.
Here’s part 4 in case you missed it.
Disclaimer: I am in no way trying to give the impression that I came up with this information and research by myself, all rights are reserved by Dr. Mark Hyman. Chunks of the text may also be directly quoted from the book without me knowing it.
There are plenty of toxins to be exposed to in everyday life that you may not be aware of. Some countries have stricter policies and regulations than others, thereby protecting the health of their citizens. Be thankful if you live in such a country.
Here are a few harmful substances and toxins that you should be aware of:
- Plastic containers (unless they explicitly state the opposite) contain phtalates and BPA (bisphenol-A) which are harmful substances that when coming into contact with the human body mimic estradiol, which in short messes up your hormone levels and can lead to a lot of bad stuff. To avoid this, store your drinks and food in metal, ceramic, or plastic containers that explicitly state that they don’t contain BPA, phatalates or any xenoestrogens. It’s just plain idiotic to expose yourself to these toxins, boycot plastic bottles.
- Fluoride. A lot of countries add fluoride in their drinking water. Fluoride exists naturally in most drinking water, however the levels are much lower, at most 1.5 ppm. Fluoride in drinking water is commonly much higher in concentration, around 0.5-1 mg, and is considered to be dangerous in concentrations higher than 1.5 mg/L. The measures of mg/L and ppm can be used interchangeably. The resereach regarding fluoridated drinking water and fluoride and the human body has been a bit ambiguous. However, there there are much more dangers associated with fluoride than there are health benefits, therefore I say it’s better to be safe than sorry. There are plenty of videos on Youtube and links on Google where you may read more about this stuff and find out for yourself. Another interesting thing to know about fluoride and dental care is that 90% of everyone who brushes their teeth are overdosing. You are supposed to use no more than the size of pea, most people use 5-20 times that amount. This is a symptom of people learning through observational learning by watching toothpaste commercials where the smiling test-person always applies a full brush of toothpaste. To avoid fluoridated drinking and shower water you may want to purchase a water filter, I haven’t done so yet myself so i can’t say whether to recommend it or not. Some food for thought regarding the toxicity of fluoride.
(This video may be interesting for you to watch regarding fluoride. It is a rather dubious subject, however one should always think for himself, therefore I encourage you to do some research and come up with your own opinion instead of blindly accepting claims)
- Chlorine is also added to the water supply in most countries. It is mostly considered to be relatively harmless and “a necessary evil” in order to make the water drinkable. In the nordic countries the concentration is negligible, in other countries it can be higher. Some people get very dry or irritated skin from showering and have reported increased skin vitality after installing water filters in their showers.
- Thimerosal/thiomersal is a toxin present in a lot of contact solutions.
- Deodorants often contain toxins of varying harmfulness. These are the main substances that you should worry about when it comes to deodorant; aluminium compounds which in high levels may lead to Alzheimer’s. Other substances to look out for include propylene glycol, triclosan and steareths.
There is a certain gene called GSTM1 that a few unlucky people are missing, this makes the detoxification process much harder for the body, especially from heavy metals such as mercury or lead.
Mark Hyman makes a point that one cannot be too careful about avoiding toxins and pollution in general as only 0.6 % of all chemical being used have even been tested!
Memory loss is not a normal part of aging. But now 22 % or 5.4 million people over 70 years old have “predementia”.
-Dr. Mark Hyman
This is due to eating unhealthy food (mainly gluten and refined carbs) that increases inflammation – remember inflammation strikes both to the body and the brain, excessive drinking, smoking, a diet deficient in macro as well as micronutrients and also exposure to toxins.
Genes + environment = disease
-Dr. Mark Hyman
There are is never a specific gene for any disease. There are several so called “high-risk genes”, and if you subject yourself to harmful substances (toxins) and eat unhealthily, thus living in a harmful environment, this may act as a trigger for specific diseases such as ADHD, Alzheimer’s, dementia, autism.
The gene apo E4 is a high-risk gene for Alzheimer’s disease, which makes it hard to lower cholesterol or detoxify mercury from the brain.
Another gene is the GST (gluthathione-S-transferase) gene, which is one of the most important ones for detoxifying the brain by producing gluthathione that was mentioned earlier.
Another gene is called CETP, which is involved in cholesterol transport and we know that high cholesterol promotes Alzheimer’s. People who have a problem with this gene don’t make enough of HDL (good cholesterol), to shuttle out the bad cholesterol. We know high cholesterol leads to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Combine this gene with the apo E4 gene and your risk of dementia goes way up.
-Dr. Mark Hyman
Genes What it does How to improve its function
MTHFR (methylenetetrahydrofolatereductase)->Controls methylation->High doses of folic acid or activated folate called methyl-folate
Apo E4 (apololipoprotein E4)->Carries cholesterol and heavy metals->Whole foods, low-glycemic-load diet + exercise.
GSTM (glutathione-s-transferase,M,isoform) +GSTP (glutathione-s-transferase,P,isoform)->Helps your body detoxify and produce glutathione->Adequate intake of B12, B6, folate, sulfur-containing (eggs) amino acids such as NAC, eat two cups of cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower) per day.
CETP (cholesterol ester transfer protein)->Transports cholesterol away from arteries->Whole foods, low-glycemic-load diet + exercise
COMT (catechol-O-methyltransferase)->Metabolizes neurotransmitters and hormones through methylation->Adequate intake of B6, B12, and folate.
SOD-2 (superoxide dismutase-2)->Powerful intracellular antioxidant->Take Zinc, manganese, and copper in your multivitamin. Eat plenty of phytonutrient antioxidants (berries).
The very core of nearly all chronic illness is the breakdown in the process of moving around methyl groups (CH3) in the body (the methylation process), and creating the most important detoxifier and antioxidant in our bodies – glutathione.
Amazingly, these two biochemical cycles are completely tied together. All the biochemical steps along the way have to work in order for you to methylate and to sulfate, which is the process by which your body produces glutathione, the mother of all detoxifiers and antioxidants.
For glutathione in the body to be produced, you must have enough folate, B6, B12 and the methylation process must run efficiently. As I have said many times, everything is tied together.
–Dr. Mark Hyman
Mercury poisoning recovery
Useful foods to detoxify from mercury poisoning include kale, cilantro, watercress. Supplement with milk thistle which increases liver functioning. Minerals such as selenium and zinc may also be used. If there is a genetic problem (such as mentioned above) chelating medication can be used.
On free radicals
Free radicals from toxins lead to oxidative stress, which damages our mitochondria, the cells’ energy factory. This leads to over-excitation of cells and inflammation. Ultimately, all this result in cell death and the symptoms we see as mood disorders and behavior problems, as well as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
-Dr. Mark Hyman
Glutathione is your body’s best detoxifier and antioxidant. It is a sulfurous molecule created though the sulfation process. You could say glutathione works the same way that a sponge absorbs water -but with toxins. The glutathione sticks to the toxins like glue and helps the body get rid of the toxins through your stool and urine – so drink a lot of water and eat plenty of fibre if you need to detoxify, but also in general.
In treating chronically ill patients using Functional Medicine for more than ten years, I have found that glutathione deficiency is found in nearly all very ill patients – those with depression, mood disorders, chronic fatigue, heart disease, cancer, chronic infections, autoimmune disease, diabetes, autism, asthma, kidney problems etc.
-Dr. Mark Hyman
This is a key point. The takeaway is that perhaps one of the best ways to stay healthy is to maintain a stable amount of glutathione.
Glutathione is produced by your body continuously. It is composed by three amino acids – cysteine, glycine and glutamine. (glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the body and FYI it can be used as a supplement to be taken in your post workout proteinshake)
Another reason why glutathione is important is because it recycles antioxidants. – Antioxidants clean up free radicals, which, left unchecked lead to massive cell destruction.
Glutathione is also critical in helping your immune system do its job of fighting infections and preventing cancer. Studies show it can even help in the treatment of AIDS.
We need glutathione to reach peak mental and physical function. Research has shown that raised glutathione levels decrease muscle damage, reduce recovery time, increase strength and endurance, and shift metabolism from fat production to muscle development. Oxidative stress and glutathione deficiency have also been connected to dementia, depression, autism etc.
-Dr. Mark Hyman
How to Boost your Glutathione Production
The first thing you must do is to make sure that your methylation is working properly as the methylation process is intimately connected to the sulfation process. Secondly you may take supplements containing NAC (N-acetylcysteine), ALA (Alpha-lipoic acid) or milk thistle which as I previously told you, boosts liver function.
Here are a few good vegetables to boost glutathione:
- Mustard greens
- Bok choy
- Horseradish & radish
That’s all for now.
Read part 6 here.