The Seven Major Systems Involved in Detoxification
– Post by Love Wellness Advisor: Dr. Francis. Join the discussion and read more on The Love Club
There are seven major systems involved in detoxification:
1. Lungs and Respiratory System
When you inhale, your lungs reoxygenate your blood and circulate this freshly oxygenated blood to fuel the heart, the arteries, and finally the entire body. When you exhale, these same organs expel toxic waste, aka carbon dioxide.
This process makes the lungs ground zero for airborne toxins, chemicals, viruses, bacteria, and allergens. Luckily, detoxification is as simple as, well, breathing. If you’re like most people, you tend to take shallow breaths, especially in tense or stressful situations. In fact, most of us take in just enough air to stay alive. The more deeply you breathe, however, the more oxygen you deliver to every cell of your body.
2. Lymphatic System (Including the GALT)
The lymphatic system is a complex network of vessels, nodes, and pathways that carry lymphatic fluid throughout the body, much the way arteries and veins circulate blood. In fact, lymphatic vessels flow alongside your blood vessels. Unlike the circulatory system, the lymphatic system does not have a pump (the heart). In- stead it relies on muscle movement and contraction to push fluid through its channels. This means exercise and massage aren’t just important for soothing your mind and muscles; they’re also essential for a healthy lymphatic system.
Lymphatic fluid carries white blood cells called lymphocytes. These cells act like bodyguards, disabling harmful foreign invaders picked up from your blood. Ever notice that when you’re sick, your lymph nodes are swollen? That’s because they are working overtime to rid your body of foreign invaders.
Your GALT is also part of the lymphatic system. The GALT is the intersection of our gastrointestinal system, immune system, and nervous system and is made up of a network of immune cells and membranes that line the inside passages of our body. Think of it as our “inside skin.” The functions of the skin are to absorb nutrients and provide a barrier that protects toxins from getting into the body. In a sense, it’s part of our immune system. The GALT works similarly, but it lines the inside passages of our body, including the sinuses, nose, lungs, mouth, esophagus, stomach, large intestine, small intestine, colon, vagina, urethra, and bladder.
A healthy GALT absorbs nutrients and eliminates toxins. When we eat, foods—protein, fat, and carbohydrates—get Broken down by enzymes in the stomach and small intestine into smaller units. Protein turns into amino acids, fat into fatty acids, and carbohydrates into glucose. These micronutrients transport across the GALT layer into the bloodstream and then out to the proper tissues.
Toxins, waste and undigested food can't make their way through the GALT so they get eliminated through the large intestine as stool. When the GALT does what it’s supposed to do, nutrients get to your cells and waste goes straight to the exit. But if your GALT is weak, it doesn’t matter how much green juice you drink—very few of the nutrients you’re consuming are being absorbed by your body. Instead they pass right through like water. It’s what I call “expensive urine.”
The GALT's second jobs is to prevent infection. When your GALT is healthy, you’re less likely to get sick. You’ve probably seen this concept in action at the office. One per- son comes down with the flu. Half the office soon catches it, while the other half isn’t affected at all. People who get sick aren’t breathing more bugs than the others. Much of their immunity depends on the health of their GALT. When the GALT is weakened, fewer nutrients are absorbed and risk of infection increases as more toxins and allergens are able to make their way into our bloodstream. When more toxins enter your bloodstream, white blood cells—the antibodies programmed to recognize what belongs in your body and what doesn’t—flag them as foreign invaders they need to get rid of and produce an immune or allergy response. Most allergies and immune problems start with a breakdown of the GALT.
3. Kidneys and Urinary Tract
Many waste materials pass through your kidneys to be filtered and excreted through your bladder. What you eat and drink affects the health and functioning of your kidneys. Overloading them with animal products, sodium, refined sugar, processed foods, and alcohol can overtax them and impair functioning. They’re also sensitive to heavy metals like lead and mercury. Similar to the colon detoxification system, when you don’t drink adequate amounts of water or urinate frequently enough, your urine passed will have a more pungent odor and darker color. That’s because it contains a concentrated amount of waste.
4. Circulatory System
Your blood is the vital fluid pumped from your heart to your organs and cells through an arterial network. Your veins carry blood to your heart and from there it is pumped to the lungs, where it is exchanged for fresh oxygen and nutrients and then recycled again.
Your skin is the first line of defense against organisms and toxins entering the body. It is also the place where vitamin D gets activated by exposure to sunlight. The blood directly feeds the skin; therefore toxins in the blood are eliminated through the skin. This is why toxicity can lead to acne, rashes, hives, eczema, and psoriasis.
6. Large Intestine and Colon
This is the last segment of the gut. Toxins are dumped into the colon via the liver, gallbladder, and the lymphatic system. They are then eliminated out of the body. When waste isn’t eliminated efficiently, toxic bowel may result.
If you’re living large, it’s likely your liver is taking a beating. The liver detoxifies through a network of enzymes. The role of the liver enzymes is to convert fat-soluble toxins into water-soluble substances so that they can be eliminated through the kidneys and intestines. Think of the liver as the superhero of detoxification—it neutralizes a large number of internal and external pollutants. In other words, it makes toxins less toxic.
Your liver is always on the clock. If you have a weak GALT, there is more burden on the liver since toxins that make their way into the blood will have to get filtered through the liver again. Liver detoxification occurs in two stages of enzymatic processes. In order for these enzymatic processes to work properly, the liver needs numerous vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. No nutrients? No detox. That means if you’re fasting— going eight or more hours without eating—your liver slows down.
The liver rids your body of toxins in two phases. In phase 1, a toxin is broken down into an intermediate compound that is often more toxic than the original substance because it is less chemically stable. In phase 2, enzymes bind or conjugate to this toxin and make it water-soluble so it’s easily excreted out of the body.
It’s important to note that when detoxing is done properly, it shouldn’t make you sick. If you get ill when you’re cleansing, this isn’t a “healthy” or “healing” reaction, as was once thought. Instead, one of two things may be happening:
- You’re fasting or not getting the nutrients you need for the liver to work properly. When you fast, your liver pathways slow down, which increases free radicals in the blood. There aren’t enough nutrients to create the enzymes necessary to move the toxins out of your body.
- You’re ignoring your GALT. Many modern cleanses involve purging and flushing the liver rapidly. This causes toxins to move out quickly, but if your GALT is weak, or if you have leaky gut syndrome, the toxins get reabsorbed back into the bloodstream, causing illness.
Therefore, a detox regime that supports the liver and gut/ GALT should result in an improvement in symptoms without making you feel worse.
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