The process of complete detoxification can be a challenge to explain, so sometimes I demystify it for clients by comparing it to a three-step program to take out the garbage in your house.
Detoxification takes place primarily in the liver in Phase I and Phase II, and then through the kidneys at Phase III. Phase I is like taking your garbage out from under your kitchen sink and then moving it to a big garbage can in the garage, and Phase II is like taking the big garbage can out to the curb. Phase III occurs when the garbage truck arrives to remove the contents of the garbage can.
Phase I, dealing with the garbage right in front of us, is the easiest to keep up with. We remove this garbage (toxins) to the garage (liver) constantly. A Phase I liver function can be done rather easily with fasting and trendy juice “cleanses,” but the problem is these methods don’t support Phase II. To use another analogy, if you have a bunch of friends over for a party, what happens? You produce all kinds of garbage in a short amount of time, and then your big can in the garage is overflowing.
Phase II is tricky, because it is extremely nutrient dependent, and especially amino acid dependent. If the big can in your garage isn’t big enough (poor liver function) or if you’re making more garbage than usual (excess toxin exposure) or you forget to take the can down to the curb on garbage day (not properly supporting Phase II nutritionally – the biggest culprit), you’re going to have problems. All that rotting garbage is going to stink up your whole house. If you miss garbage day, you know you’re going to regret it.
The same problem happens if you detox without supporting Phase II – you end up with all kinds of side effects or what some like to call a “healing crisis.” Trying to put a positive spin on the symptoms doesn’t change the fact that you’re suffering from imbalanced detoxification. But how does the body try to handle a slow Phase II? Because the body is so amino acid dependent, it will try to find aminos where it can, and a great place for it to start is your muscle tissue. I’ve seen clients try their own detox programs and become discouraged because it destroyed a lot of their hard-earned muscle mass. This also explains why toxin-laden clients have a harder time building muscle – they’re telling their body to build muscle with training, and the liver is telling it to tear down the muscle tissue for detoxification. The message is clear: Reduce your toxin exposure where you can and don’t follow trendy, unresearched detox programs.
Phase III is not as difficult as Phase II. Just as with the garbage company, if you keep paying them, they’ll keep coming to your house. With the kidneys, if you keep your urine more alkaline than acidic, Phase III transport ions will keep functioning. But if your urine is acidic, this means the metabolized toxins will not be adequately excreted and will be returned to the body instead.
How do you “pay” the kidneys to keep them functioning? With lots of greens and veggies, to start. As for detox formulas, the addition of potassium citrate is perfect for keeping the urine alkaline. Follow those two pieces of advice and it’s like having the trash company on automatic bill-paying so they’ll keep coming by your house to pick up whatever you’ve put out there.
The idea is to keep everything balanced. If we want to improve detoxification, the entire process must be supported with adequate nutrient intake. Just as we don’t want the garbage cans overflowing, we also want to be sure all the toxins we’re trying to get rid of are fully removed from our bodies.
We’re constantly in a state of getting rid of toxins from our body, but sometimes the system becomes overwhelmed or isn’t functioning properly. A few simple steps are all it takes to keep your house in order.