LIVER HEALTH & ENVIRONMENTAL CHEMICALS

Let’s face it, we live in a toxic world and are exposed to a whole plethora of toxins on a daily basis. These toxins need to be broken down by our systems and safely excreted otherwise they will have negative implications on your health and be stored to prevent any further damage.

Common toxins we are exposed to on a daily basis come from many sources. Environmental pollution if you live in cities or developed areas, pesticides and agricultural chemicals if you live in the countryside or consume non organic food items, cleaning chemicals, cosmetics and hair colouring solutions, perfumes and deodorants, soaps and shampoos, food additives and by-products from food processing and cooking, heavy metals, plastics, Volatile organic compounds VOC’s from carpets and plastics, even your new car smell, paints, cooking utensils, medicines, recreational drugs, sunscreens and even your own metabolic wastes.

Once a toxin enters your system it needs to be metabolised. Initially once absorbed into the blood circulation your antioxidant defences will attempt to neutralise the toxins and then they will enter the liver where several mechanisms are in place the deal with toxins. Then your kidney’s, lymph and bowels will attempt to excrete the remaining metabolised chemicals. This requires your liver, lymph, kidney’s, skin and digestive system to work optimally which is often not the case.

Certain toxins such as heavy metals and pesticides are difficult for the body to metabolise so they are stored in fatty tissues to protect them from damaging the system. Over time these toxins degrade the fatty tissues in the nervous system and brain leading to a range of neurological conditions.

Apart from accumulating in fatty tissues toxins also trigger elevated levels of inflammation, block endocrine hormone receptor sites, increase immune reactions increasing autoimmune and allergy reactions, aggravate nervous tissues leading to irritability and poor sleep patterns.

So essentially toxins can impact on every body function. Your particular genetic weaknesses tend to be the first area to be effected. If you are prone to allergies then this may be the first symptoms, if you are prone to arthritis this may be affected. If you are prone to hormonal imbalances, then this may be an issue. But toxins can literally influence each and every condition in the body. This is why a well-constructed, safe cleansing program is beneficial for all health conditions.

The role of the liver influences hormonal health is paramount, some of its functional roles are:

  • hepatic involvement – conversion of oestradiol and oestrone to oestriol
  • conversion of oestrogens to form glucoronides and sulfates via excretion (sulphation pathways)
  • detoxification of xenoestrogens, drugs, chemicals and poisons
  • homocysteine metabolism
  • production of bile
  • break down, excretion and recycling of hormones

Homocysteine is an intermediary toxic substance produced in the metabolism of sulphur proteins. The levels are largely determined by nutritional status and lifestyle choices. Lifestyle choices that increase homocysteine are consumption of coffee, alcohol and smoking. Nutritionally low levels of folic acid, Vitamin B12 and Vitamin B6 increase homocysteine levels significantly as they stop it being metabolised. High levels of homocysteine are implicated in heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, high cholesterol and atherosclerosis, chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia, kidney stones, hearing loss, dementia and alzheimers disease, depression, memory loss, parkinson’s disease, miscarriages, spina bifida, psoriasis and other autoimmune diseases.

High levels of homocysteine occur with low levels of cysteine which is vital to produce glutathione (liver antioxidant), taurine (bile acids and cholesterol metabolism).

Hormonal conditions

Specifically for hormonal conditions you need to consider toxins effecting hormone receptor sites which creates false signals to the endocrine system, irritation to nervous tissues and the impact on the liver’s ability to metabolise hormones. This is critical. If you cannot metabolise hormones then everything goes wrong from there. It is very common in women who have severe hormonal issues that they genetically are prone to incomplete hormone metabolism.

Toxins from all sources and of all types will accumulate in your system. It’s a fact of nature in the world we live and unavoidable completely. How your body reacts to these toxins is important to note. Some people will live their entire life with elevated heavy metal levels and never have an issue. Others will have a minor exposure and react badly. It’s just the luck of the draw.

Generally, people who have chronic illnesses which are unresponsive to treatment have reduced ability to genetically metabolise toxins and need to live healthy and clean diet and lifestyles to lead a healthy, symptom free life.

Now with the latest fade to detoxify, many people can make themselves worse through a poorly prepared and planed detoxification. Toxins can be concentrated in the body and when you overstimulate this process your body can dump the toxins into your system causing damage. If your digestion and elimination organs are not functioning optimally then you can actually make your health worse. So here are some steps to safely detoxify your system

Support for better liver detoxification

  • Liver support – the liver requires specific nutrients to ensure optimal metabolism of the hormones, if the liver is sluggish due to poor diet, alcohol, excess oestrogen then it becomes harder for the liver to do its role of detoxification. So this is where a good liver tonic like Liva Detox can support and optimise the cleansing process as it contains essential nutrients to support liver function. Also including more cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, brussels sprouts) help to increase the liver pathways to better metabolise hormones. Including a green juice daily in your diet is a helpful way to better support the body to do this.
  • Alkalising to minimise the detox symptoms it is important to keep your system in an alkaline state. Green superfood powders are a good way to do this. We recommend alkalising greens for this process.
  • Antioxidants – apart from a diet high in antioxidant foods it helps to flood your system with additional plant based antioxidants. We suggest the Antiox reds for this process
  • Fibre – to maintain regular bowel function then you need to load your system with lots of fibre. This may occur naturally with the change in diet, but if it does not try chia and basil seeds soaked, psyllium husks or the Klenz product. Fibre is important to bind to and clear any toxins released

As toxins begin to come out of your system often your symptoms will exacerbate as they are the cause of your symptoms in the first place. You will also notice a feeling of slight nausea sometimes and headaches are common. Generally, you will sleep very well and soundly. Low energy levels are common during this time so make sure you can rest.

Emotionally you may go through a rollercoaster ride. The deprivation of your favourite foods has one influence, the withdrawal of processed foods has another impact and your body also releases stored emotions as well. Once you pass through this phase you will feel like a burden has been lifted from your shoulders, energy levels will rise and your motivation levels at an all-time high. Enjoy the process and feel the benefits of releasing many of these stored toxins. It is beneficial to follow a detoxification process at least once to twice yearly.

ENVIRONMENTAL CHEMICALS

The world around us has concentrated chemicals in the atmosphere. We breathe them, they soak into our skin and we eat them. Chemicals which are unnatural to the body create chaos within and cause a multitude of conditions and illnesses. Post-industrialisation sees the world filled with harmful chemicals and pollutants which are often contained in skin products, plastics, foods, pesticides and water.

Any discussion of oestrogen should also include the environmental substances which have oestrogen effects within the body. These include the phyto-oestrogens found in plants which have some therapeutic effects and also the less desirable environmental oestrogens.

What do these substances do:

  • they scramble the critical hormonal messages of the endocrine system
  • they are environmental oestrogens or oestrogen mimics

We need to realise that all animals with backbones (fish, frogs, reptiles, birds and mammals) have very similar endocrine glands and hormones. Yet the effects of environmental chemicals in animals have been drastic – infertility, birth defects, failing immune systems, leading to increasing infections and cancers.

Humans – the effects are more subtle/ delayed impacts, however hormone disruptions are increasing. They do not act like typical carcinogens or direct poisons therefore defy the current testing protocols that assume the higher the direct dose the more damage – we are looking in the wrong places, asking the wrong questions. We are not looking for the more subtle hormone disruption.

Classes of hormone disrupters (oestrogen dominance is a major effect of these)

  • Environmental chemicals – the ‘thugs’ on the biochemical highway (of life) that sabotage vital communication. They mug the messengers or impersonate them. They jam signals, the scramble messages. They sow disinformation. They wreak all manner of havoc.
  • Mimics can copy a natural hormone which allows them to fit into a variety of receptors and send messages. Examples of these are Diethylstilbesterol (DES), DDT and DDE. DDE can deplete natural steroid hormones (particularly testosterone).
  • Blockers can occupy the receptor site in the cell and block the natural hormone. An example of this are fungicides. Vinclozilin blocks testosterone and has a feminising effect on a male. This fungicide is frequently used to kill fungus on fruit rats.
  • Triggers include chemicals that attach to receptors that trigger an abnormal response or action in the cell. An example of this is dioxins which alter metabolism.
  • Depressed immune response and the body is unable to fight off viruses and increases the risk of tumours. Natural killer cells below normal and T cell activity is limited. An example of this is PCB’s and DDT.
  • Hormone scramblers can disrupt critical hormone messages. An example of this is electromagnetic radiation (EMR) from mobile phones. EMR affects the hypothalamus and disrupts the whole endocrine system of the body and lowers melatonin levels (oestrogen balancer). They do this by scrambling the critical hormone messages of the endocrine system. Electromagnetic fog is created by televisions, mobile phones and transmitters, computers, power lines and satellite transmitters.
  • Hormone disrupters are long lasting and accumulate in fatty tissue. Increased accumulation occurs with repeated exposure.

ENVIRONMENTAL MIMICS

With millions of hormone receptors in the body, the level of environmental hormone mimics from petrochemicals, pesticides, plastics and cleaning products effect endocrine function. These chemicals bind to hormone receptor sites effectively creating an overstimulation of these receptors activating one of the hormones functions to gain weight. Women are extremely sensitive to the level of environmental toxicity.

The early development of young women in todays society is also a sign that our children are being exposed to sex hormones not only during conception but their development as well.

REDUCED CAPACITY TO METABOLISE AND EXCRETE HORMONES

Hormones are not easily broken down in the body and go through several processes in the liver via methylation and conjugation. Women with chronic hormonal imbalances often have genetic predisposition to poor methylation and conjugation of hormones. Women exposed to high sugar levels is another increasingly common cause of liver disease. When the liver does not metabolise our own internal hormones and synthetic hormones as also prescribed then these hormones recirculate causing a ‘double whammy’.

To make matters worse if in conjunction with poor metabolism the bowels are not working regularly, hormones are further reabsorbed into the blood circulation creating a ‘triple whammy’. This can happen due to poor bacterial balance or constipation through low fibre diets from to over processing of the food chain. Healthy bacteria also play an important role in the breakdown of hormones in the bowel as well as the production of certain feel-good hormones such as serotonin. If serotonin levels drop then depression and emotional eating can develop.

About Sally James:

Sally James N.D is a Naturopathic lecturer, content health writer and naturopathic advisor, with 18 years experience working for herbal medicines companies in the areas of research, technical support and naturopathic advice.

She has a special interest in womens health seeking to provide them with advice in natural health care through supporting, informing and educating women to empower themselves through better understanding of their bodies.

Sally also runs a website called Ask a Naturopath, founded in 2008.
Ask a Naturopath provides natural health information to the wider audience via personal email consultations and over 500 pages of resources.

http://www.askanaturopath.com