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This month we’re singing the praises of the cleanse to keep us from singing the blues. Today, I want to share how a cleanse helps to detox our liver which works so damn hard to break down the harmful toxins that we send its way, as well as just the everyday hormones such as estrogen. I know, some people cringe at the sound of a cleanse. They think it means putting nothing but liquids into their bodies and they may feel weak, dumb, deprived, or light-headed and unable to concentrate at work. I asked my dad if he wanted to join my next cleanse, and his immediate response was: "Will it hurt?" I recommend a 21-day cleanse that begins gradually with a pre-cleanse and each phase gradually limits a toxic food and eases you into the next phase. You CAN do a cleanse without feeling headachy, anxious or jittery. In fact, a cleanse done correctly, will leave you feeling more energized, congruent and alive than you have in a long time. How do I know? Well, I've been cleansing as a hormone-balancing, detoxifing, self-actualizing process for 10 years--as well as studying every ancient wisdom tradition and how they use cleansing as a path to True Self. I do this for fun, and I also do it professionally. I constantly ask myself: If the Buddha came to dinner, what would I serve him? If the Buddha were a woman, what would her hormones look like? Let's take it even further: What would her entire neuroendocrine communication system look like? If the Buddha performed a cleanse, what wouldhe/she eat/drink/supplement? And I bet you that the Buddha had an amazing liver. Today marks day 10 of my latest cleanse. I feel amazing. My brain is fully in the "on" position. The whites of my eyes? Super bright. My sleep is deeper, far more restorative. I'm a calm mom. I'm more present and emotionally current with my Darling Husband. Hurray!
First, A Word from Our LiverWhen we look at detoxifying our bodies, it is a good idea to start with the body’s own filter, the liver. The liver takes harmful (such as alcohol) and more benign substances (such as estradiol, the most common estrogen until about age 50, then estrone dominates), and converts these substances typically from fat-soluble to water-soluble so that you can remove them in your urine, stool or bile. You have a bazillion enzymes in the liver that act on these substances. And 80% of women over the age of 35 have estrogen dominance--and desperately need the periodic liver optimization.
“Break it down for me, please, Dr. Sara...”There are two steps to the liver’s daily task – Phase 1 and Phase 2. A toxin enters Phase 1 in the liver and is reduced to smaller metabolites, which then move onto Phase 2, where they are bound to glutathione, glycine and sulfate. This new now non-toxic metabolite can be excreted in the bile, urine or stool.
- Phase 1: The processes in Phase 1 produce free radicals which may damage liver cells. I think of free radicals like rust in a car--they are like rust in your body and slow down your high performance. Antioxidants (Vitamin D, resveratrol, etc.) reduce the damage. When Phase 1 is inefficient or overloaded, you may experience intolerance to caffeine as well as scented products. Overactive Phase 1 folks will be unaffected by caffeine. Here are things that activate Phase 1 detox: -- Eat this: Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage; high-protein diet, oranges/tangerines, charcoal-broiled meats -- Toxins to avoid: Alcohol, sulfa drugs, nicotine in cigarette smoke, steroids (including estrogen), and environmental toxins such as paint fumes, carbon tetrachloride, exhaust, dioxin, pesticides -- Supportive supplements: Vitamin C, niacin (B3)
- Phase 2: Also known as the conjugation pathway — this means that liver cells add a little somethun somethun (cysteine, glycine, sulfur) to the substance that is coming in, so that it’s easier to get rid of it. This makes the substance dissolve in water, and so you can get rid of it more readily in urine, bile or stool. For things to work optimally in Phase 2, you need the amino acids taurine and cysteine as well as additional nutrients (glycine, choline, and inositol). This is why you’ll need detox supplements during your cleanse!