Health & Wellness: Detoxification
Health & Wellness
Detoxification is essential in the human body. As we create energy, there are waste products produced. Properly excreting these waste products falls into detoxification. Without it, we have too much of a toxic load and our body sees repercussions. The word “detoxification” or “detox” has been thrown around over the last few years that many associate it with a juice cleanse or another type of bodily cleanse. However, in this case, we are referring to detoxification at the biochemical level.
The detoxification process has two separate phases, both equally important. In phase one, our body requires “activator” enzymes. These enzymes hold the responsibility of activating a substance that needs to be removed. Once this process is complete, we move on to phase two detoxification. During phase two, we use “excretor” enzymes. These enzymes catalyze reactions that lead to the excretion of the toxins from the body. The way this process works is by binding the “active” toxins from phase one with glutathione in order to make the compounds water-soluble. Water-soluble compounds have the ability to be excreted through sweat or urine. With specific gene variants or deletions within this process, individuals have an increased risk for inflammation, cancers, and other health conditions.
There are several factors that could lead to excess toxins in the body. However, one main source of inflammation and toxins comes from “leaky gut syndrome”. Leaky gut is when the tight junctions surrounding your gastrointestinal tract become inflamed, aggravated, and loose. This could be due to environmental factors or food sensitivities. When the tight junctions are no longer tightly bound to each other, essential nutrients and toxins leak through the intestinal walls back into the bloodstream. Females have 9 detoxification processes while men have 8. These detoxification processes include:
- The genes
- The enzymes
- Oxidation / Reduction
- The liver
- The gallbladder
- The gut microflora
- What you excrete from your lungs
- Skin / sweat
- And for women, menstruation
It is important to note that toxins love fat. The majority of toxins surround areas with higher fat content. This explains why we have seen an increase in Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. However, the brain is made of fat tissue. Considering that toxins love fat, we need to keep as many toxins as possible away from our brain tissues. If we have a large number of toxins, eventually they will overwhelm our system. When this occurs it begins to block the gallbladder. This leads to more re-circulation of the toxins and increases inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract as well as increases the possibility of leaky gut. This allows lipopolysaccharides into the system which down-regulate the detox enzymes mentioned above as well as phase three transport (excretion of toxins from the body). From here, we start to see kidney damage and ultimately constipation if toxins are not being moved out.
To better assess our patient’s detoxification factors and genetic impact, we use a test from DNA Life called DNA Health. A Sample report is shown below:
Cytochrome encodes the enzyme responsible for metabolizing both exogenous and endogenous compounds such as estrogen and other inflammatory mediators. We see the gene impacts of AA and TT, both wild types, have no impact. The Heterozygote AG and TC both have a moderate impact. Lastly, the homozygous GG and CC have high impacts. The SNP change from A to G leads to the substitution of an amino acid which leads to a change in protein and increased enzymatic activity. This association has been linked to cancers. The C allele is a functional polymorphism that has been associated with increased transcript half-life and increased enzyme activity. This leads to elevated levels of metabolites and DNA damage.
For these individuals, we want to reduce the rates of carcinogen activation. Reducing all exposures to environmental and diet carcinogens like smoking and chargrilled foods. We encourage these individuals to eat a diet that is high in phytonutrients and foods that contain resveratrol like green tea and curcumin. For more information, please refer to GeneCards, The Human Gene Database for CYP1A1.
Glutathione S-Transferase has an impact on the development of and prognosis of diseases influenced by oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is a common risk factor and is associated with many chronic health disorders. This enzyme is the most abundant subtype in the lungs and metabolizes carcinogenic compounds. The wild type, AA has no impact. The Heterozygote AG has low impact and the Homozygote GG has a moderate impact. It has been shown that the G allele decreases the activity of the enzyme.
It is important to remember the solution to pollution is dilution. With this being said, we want to reduce the number of toxins and increase the cruciferous and allium vegetable intake. In specific individuals who show inadequate amounts of this enzyme, supplementation of DIM or sulforaphane may be required. For more information, please refer to GeneCards, The Human Gene Database for GSTP1.
Glutathione S-Transferase insertion/deletion is involved in phase two detoxification. This enzyme is biologically active and removes xenobiotics, carcinogens, and products of oxidative stress by reactive intermediates. When this is inserted or present, it is referred to as the wild type and has no impact. When this is deleted or absent, it is a variant in the genes and shows a high impact.
A deletion results in the absence of the enzyme. This reduces the ability of hepatic detoxification and increases mutagenic DNA. The main health conditions this deletion has been associated with is chemical sensitivity, coronary artery disease in smokers, and atopic asthma. For those who have a deletion, it is critical to limit exposure to toxins and eat a diet high in antioxidants containing many vegetables to decrease DNA damage. Organic foods are a must in order to best minimize exposure. For more information, please refer to GeneCards, The Human Gene Database for GSTM1.
This is also an insertion or deletion within the genes. This is a member of proteins that help to catalyze the conjugation of reduced glutathione to electrophilic and hydrophobic compounds. If this is present, there is no impact. However, if this is deleted there is a high impact and is associated with lung, larynx, and bladder cancers.
A toxic load will lead to a high toxic burden. The toxic load you have minus your body’s ability to clear these toxins leaves us with our toxic burden. Similar to the above, ensure that you are getting rid of all excess toxins and pollutants like smoke from cigarettes, pesticides, and eating organic foods. For more information, please refer to GeneCards, The Human Gene Database for GSTT1.
This is often referred to as quinone reductase and has a cofactor of riboflavin. This enzyme protects the cells from oxidative stress by maintaining vitamin E. It is most often involved in detoxifying tobacco smoke, diet, and oestrogen metabolism. The gene impact information shows that those with the wildtype CC have no impact, the heterozygote CT have a moderate impact, and the homozygous TT have a high impact.
Studies have shown that those who have the T allele have reduced enzymatic activity. In fact, those who have the TT genotype only have 2-4% reductase activity. We recommended that those who have the TT or CT genotype do not smoke and avoid polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons that are found in smoked or chargrilled meats. Additionally, it is best to increase the intake of vegetables and fruits. For more information, please refer to GeneCards, The Human Gene Database for NQO1.
As you can see through each one of these genes and their recommendations, dietary changes are a must. The dietary changes are what have the capability to alter our genetic expression and lower our risk of health conditions. For more information on this topic, refer to the..Effect of Diet on Expression of Genes Involved in Lipid Metabolism, Oxidative Stress, and Inflammation..
It is great to know your genes and the impact they have on your health. However, once this information is known the power comes from test pairing. With test pairing, we are able to assess your specific numbers and nutritional balance. From here, it allows us to create a more personalized plan regarding your care for optimal health results. One test we do is the Micronutrient test from Spectracell. This test helps us to see the effectiveness of the micronutrients throughout your body and how they are impacting important biochemical pathways like the krebs cycle. Additionally, we are able to better identify metabolic inadequacies while shedding light on the possible underlying causes of complex chronic conditions. A sample test is shown below:
In today’s world, we are uncovering more than previously known. We used to think that genes were what we were coded and stuck with forever. However, now we see that we have the ability to change them with things as simple as reducing toxins and changing our diets to better help these genes express themselves. Genetic testing is a great place to start and working with a healthcare provider to uncover the true underlying health conditions and causes of pain, headaches, and fatigue is now becoming easier than ever. -Kenna Vaughn, Senior Health Coach
Renaud, H. J., Cui, J. Y., Lu, H., & Klaassen, C. D. (2014). Effect of diet on expression of genes involved in lipid metabolism, oxidative stress, and inflammation in mouse liver-insights into mechanisms of hepatic steatosis. PloS one, 9(2), e88584. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0088584
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