Today we have the absolute pleasure of having Kristine Keating; one of our lovely interviewees from {in conversation} back to talk a little more in depth on the power of detox and why we need it today.


Kristine K: This is definitely my favourite subject to discuss but it also happens to be the most misunderstood. Our bodies are designed to detoxify themselves, as most people know, but the body that is able to detox best, is the one that is exposed to the least amount of chemicals and the highest amount of nutrients.


The bodies that have the most difficult time with detoxification are the ones that are nutrient deficient. That is why you find detox centers serving nutrient-dense, water-rich foods like fresh pressed juices, leafy green salads, fresh fruit and steamed vegetables. When you think of detoxification, think water and nutrients. These are two very important elements of detox. Learning about detoxification is the closest thing to finding the fountain of youth that there is today. When the earth was more pristine, we were exposed to fewer chemicals and we only had access to fresh whole foods, so our nutrient reserves where high and our toxic load was very low. The body had no problem keeping up with its natural detoxification process within that environment.


If we fast forward to today, the story has changed drastically. We are now exposed to a vast amount of chemicals, while at the same time, feeding ourselves nutrient-depleted foods. This is the reason that today people are not as well as they should be. So what can we do about this as individuals? Well, although we cannot completely avoid chemicals completely, we can lessen the load placed on our liver (the detoxification organ) by avoiding animal-based foods, pesticides, fruits and vegetables that are wrapped in plastic, food and drink packaged in plastic bottles, unfiltered water, cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, and chemical-based products used for the bath, body and home. We have the most control over the amount of nutrients we put into our body’s, if we choose to take the control. Eating nutrient-dense food is much more important today than it was in the past, when the earth was cleaner. This is because for every toxic molecule that the body has to detoxify, it also loses a nutrient molecule in the process. The more toxins the body has to eliminate, the more nutrient-depleted it becomes. These important nutrients are used by the body to create detox molecules, like glutathione, which attaches itself to the toxin molecules and escorts them out via the stool or urine.


All of the important nutrients needed for detox are found in fruits and vegetables, especially when in their raw state. The only nutrient that is needed through supplementation is the B12 bacteria, which is normally found in our soil, but due to the use of pesticides, it’s having a hard time thriving in today’s soil. The World Health Organization made this very evident when they stated that a whopping 40% of the US is deficient in B12. However, only 3-4% of those living in the US are vegan, which means that 36-37% of those deficient in this bacteria are still consuming animal-based foods. So we now know that B12 deficiency is not just a vegan issue.

If we are deficient in the nutrients needed for the detox process, our bodies will not be able to detoxify efficiently. Knowing this makes it much easier to understand that we must eat a healthy whole food diet, with an emphasis on fresh fruits and vegetables, in order to replenish our detox molecules. Those who are eating a high volume of processed foods (including processed vegan foods) are limiting their body’s ability to create enough detoxifiers, like glutathione, which leaves their body unprotected against the daily exposure to chemicals.


Those eating animal-based foods are also limiting their body’s capacity to detoxify efficiently due to the excessive amounts of methionine found in these foods. We need less than 1 gram of methionine each day (animal-based diets deliver 8-10 times more) and when amounts exceed what is needed, it can become toxic to the liver. The liver is the most important detoxification organ, so we don’t want to muck it up with excess methionine. Methionine depletes glycine from the body (because glycine is needed to remove the excess methionine). Why is glycine so important? In order for the body to create the detox molecule, glutathione, it needs the amino acid glycine. So an excess of methionine will inhibit the body’s ability to detoxify due to its inability to create proper amounts of glutathione (because of the loss of glycine). Glycine is also the most important regulator of inflammation within the body, hence why animal-based diets are known to be inflammatory.


The importance of a low fat diet is often overlooked as a supporter of the detox process. When we take in high amounts of dietary fat, it increases the production of a toxic ‘secondary’ bile acids, (ex: lithocholic acid), which are produced by the bacteria in our colon when exposed to ‘primary’ bile acids (released in high amounts when we ingest dietary fat). Studies show that lithocholic acid may be responsible for the suppression of glutathione activity which we know is needed for cellular detoxification. This is why juice fasting helps to accelerate the detox process. You are basically embarking on a high-carb, low fat liquid diet that is high in both nutrients and water content, two important elements needed to flush toxins from the body. The low fat intake during a juice fast helps to lessen the production of lithocholic acid and in turn will allow glutathione concentrations to rise. Note: when lithocholic acid is produced at low levels, it has anti-cancer effects (hence why we only need small amounts of fat each day). It’s when it gets to what is referred to as cytotoxic levels (due to high intake of fat) that it causes problems with glutathione activity.

So, if you want to restore your body’s ability to detoxify efficiently, consume a low fat, whole food, plant-based diet (WFPB) with a big focus on fresh, raw fruits and vegetables. If you would like to speed up the process, you can always do an extended juice cleanse for a week or two, before transitioning into the diet. After you’ve completed a juice cleanse or have been on a low fat WFPB diet for a few weeks, to replenish your nutrient reserves, you can embark on a series of 3-day water fasts to dig a bit deeper into the detoxification process.

This article was contributed by Kristine Keating. Kristine is a plant-based nutritional educator with a real focus on detox and how to repair your body. Find her here on Instagram.

All images via Kristine Keating.


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