The Importance of Phase 1 and Phase 2 Liver Detox

on May 12, 2016

The liver is one of the body's most essential organs, filtering blood and metabolizing nutrients in order to keep you healthy. As modern life becomes more and more toxic, what we demand of our liver becomes more and more intense. But what happens when your liver can't keep up with the demands you're placing on your body?


Liver Detoxification


Over millions of years, our liver has evolved to handle an increasing number of demands, metabolizing toxins found in food and the environment. In a perfect world, all toxins absorbed by the body would be water soluble, but, of course, that's not the case. In fact, many of the substances taken in by the liver are exclusively fat soluble, making them much harder for the liver to metabolize. When this occurs, many toxins will cling to fatty cells and membranes, staying in your body for days, weeks, or years.


These toxins often release in times of stress, causing negative side effects like headaches, memory loss, fatigue, and nausea. The body has two mechanisms, or detoxification pathways, to breakdown fat soluble toxins into water soluble chemicals so that they can be easily excreted, but without some extra prompting, this functioning may not be able the handle the demands of daily life.


The Danger of Toxin Overloads


Exposure to too many toxins can slow down  the liver's functioning, leading to an increase of toxins within the body. The brain, breast and adrenal glands are organs with higher levels of fatty tissue, making these favorite places for toxin stores. Unfortunately, this can lead to brain toxicity and hormonal imbalances, creating a negative environment in the body and leading to damaging side effects like cognitive issues, fatigue,as well as contributing to  infertility and even the development of some kinds of cancer.


Phase One Detox


Phase one detoxification includes oxidation reduction and hydrolysis and is catalyzed by enzymes classified as P-450 that reside on the membrane of liver cells. Generally, these enzymes are triggered by proximity to specific chemicals, causing a mechanism of protection that safeguards against many different kinds of toxins.


When toxin levels get too high, however, overactivity of the phase one liver detoxification can occur, causing a dangerously high level of free radicals that must be further metabolized by phase two to protect against cell damage. When too many substances, like alcohol, saturated fats, and paint fumes, to name a few, are processed by phase one of the liver detox process, the byproducts of metabolism can become overwhelming for the liver to handle safely. Avoiding toxins that cause phase one detoxification overactivity can be to your benefit, leading to a more balanced phase two process.


Phase Two Detox


Phase two detox is also known as the conjugation pathway, in which the liver adds additional chemicals, like glycine, to toxic chemicals that have already been processed by phase one, in order to render them harmless. This step makes the toxins water soluble, allowing for easy excretion and removal from the body.


Efficient phase two detox requires certain substances, including sulfur-containing amino acids and nutrients like glycine, glutamine, and choline. Luckily, these compounds are found in  foods like cruciferous vegetables,  garlic, certain dark leafy greens and are helping the liver to keep up with the phase two detoxification process. It is important to support and balance both phases of liver detoxification because if phase two is slower than phase one, then the toxins processed by the phase one are in a state that can cause much more harm in the body. Phase two of liver detox might be impaired due lack of micronutrients in fast food diets.  


Your liver carries extreme power in your body, transforming negative factors in the environment into harmless byproducts. If your liver becomes overwhelmed with too many toxins, or if it doesn’t receive the proper nutrients to process toxins effectively, it may leave you feeling sluggish, sick, or out of sorts, leading to overall problems with your health that may cost you the quality of life you deserve. By eating right and supporting phase one and phase two detoxification of your liver, you can do what's best for your body, promoting good health for years to come.


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