Our body is designed to naturally eliminate toxic materials, and the two main types of toxins it encounters are water-soluble and fat-soluble. Toxins that are water-soluble, are relatively easy to flush from one’s body via the blood and kidneys by drinking about 3 quarts of water, evenly space throughout the day.
But fat-soluble toxins are more difficult for the body to remove. They tend to be the heavy metals, pesticides, preservatives, pollutants, plastics, and other environmental chemicals we encounter in our daily lives, and they must be converted to water-soluble toxins before the body has the ability to eliminate them. This activity takes place mostly within the liver. However, if our digestive and detox pathways are blocked, these toxins have the ability to find their way from the liver to the blood, fat cells, and brain, where they can be stored for years, causing serious health concerns.
The Mechanics of the Lymphatic
When digesting a meal, fats are moved through the stomach into the small intestine where they are emulsified by bile that is secreted from the liver and gall bladder. When in the small intestines, natural and toxic fats are distinguished by millions of small villi and lacteals (lymphatic vessels of the small intestine that absorb digested fats) that send the toxic fat to the liver to be processed. If this detox pathway is blocked or not working properly then the body stores the toxic fats, rather than moving them on to the liver.
The Gut Associated Lymphoid Tissue (GALT) is the beginning of the body’s lymphatic system and is the mucous membrane that surrounds the entire intestinal tract. The absorbing and processing of both nutritional and toxic fats takes place here, making it extremely vital. It is important that the villi and lacteals are functioning well within this ¼ inch on the inside of the gut, as well as that the ¼ inch on the outside of the gut is not congested. Once the lymphatic system moves the absorbed fats to the liver, the good fats are used to create many things that the body needs including cholesterol, cell membranes, brain cells, skin, hormones are more. In the liver as well, the toxins are processed and are ultimately eliminated. This however is where things can go wrong, because if the lymphatic system should become congested, the process of using good fats and getting rid of the bad fats can go awry. Symptoms of a congested GALT are constipation, hypersensitivities, holding extra weight around the belly, swollen feet or hands, bloating, itching or irritation of the skin, tenderness during the menstrual cycle as well as swelling of the breasts, joint stiffness, and the occasional headache.
Elimination of the correct fats is vital to the body and influences how you feel every day. Irritation of the intestinal villi as well as compromising of the functionality of the bowels can be influenced by factors such as diet and stress. Too much stress can lead to drying out of the intestinal villi causing constipation. Recurring instances of constipation can dry out the villi which in turn will cause them to produce a reactive mucus. If this mucus is excessive, a patient will appear bloated or to be carrying extra belly weight, even if their stool appears normal. In even more extreme cases, the stools will become looser, more frequent, and have a diarrhea consistency. If mucus is ever present in your stool, this needs to be taken care immediately. What this mean is that the delivery of the good fats, as well as the excretion of the toxic fats and health of the intestinal skin is breaking down. Usually toxins that are absorbed into the lymph are neutralized by immune-boosting white blood cells. However, if the mucus has become excessive, the neutralization does not take place and the toxins are sent back to the liver. There must be a balance between the intestinal tract being too wet and too dry to avoid the toxins being sent back to the liver. Try to also avoid stress, processed food, coffee, soda, food additives, as well as food and beverages that are hyper-acidic.
The Bile River
Having the correct bile flow from the liver, and making sure the toxic fats are eliminated, is extremely important to one’s health. Bile absorbs fats and is tasked as the great immune system responder in the digestive tract. Bad bacteria, parasites, metals, and pesticides are all carried by the bile. This is where fiber becomes extremely important, because if a person’s diet is fiber-deficient, up to 94% of the bile and toxins within the bile are reabsorbed back into the liver. The liver can then become over-strained because the toxic fat cells do not belong and are not supposed to be reabsorbed. If over-strained for too long, the liver will become congested and the bile will become sludgy and thick, in turn making fatty foods, heavy metals, and other fat-soluble toxins more difficult to break down. When the bile becomes too sluggish to buffer the stomach acids that begin to enter the small intestine, this acid acts as an irritant to the villi, which again causes this reactive mucus to be produced. The bile over time will become more viscous which can block the flow of the pancreatic enzymes into the small intestine. The gallbladder and pancreas share a common bile duct, and when the flow is affected, the digestive process can be compromised.
The liver gets overwhelmed when the biliary tubes become congested with thick bile and toxins, which causes it to push the fat-soluble toxins into the bloodstream. If the toxins end up in the fat cells, they can be stored there for many years which will cause oxidation and degeneration. Toxins can be stored in fatty tissues in all different parts of the body, including the brain. This is actually becoming more prominent, and if these neurotoxins are deposited in the fatty tissues of the brain, it can cause cognitive problems as well as an array of health imbalances that many Lyme patients experience.
To burn these toxins, one must burn fat and because of this one of the main focuses of Ayurveda is to convince the body to burn fat. Fat metabolism is the body’s detox fuel and it is critical that we flush these fat cells in order to turn over and remove toxins. If the nervous system is operating without stress, the body will naturally burn fat. There are many ways to burn fat, and one of the most important factors in burning fat is our lifestyle. The integrity of the digestive system as well as the lymph and bile flow is responsible for the majority of the fat-burning and detox functions of the body.
Many patients suffer from the congestion of the villi and lymph that is caused by the inability to break down and absorb good fats. This is one reason why so many people deal with wheat, dairy, and soy allergies. These foods are harder to digest, can irritate the intestinal wall, and trigger the production of even more reactive mucus. If this happens, it can greatly compromise the ability of the intestinal wall to be a barrier for the body.
Signs and Symptoms
How do you know if your detoxification and assimilation pathways are compromised? Here are the typical signs:
- Ongoing constipation or loose stool
- Pain and nausea after most meals
- Enlarged and swollen lymph nodes
- Edema or swelling around the hands and feet
- Chronic fatigue
- Frequent headaches
- Bloating, water retention and weight gain
- Itchy skin
7 Ways to Remove Fat-Soluble Toxins
To combat this, there are several simple guidelines you can follow.
- Sauna Sessions: Sweating to rid your body of both heavy metals and foreign compounds, is one of the most effective ways of eliminating fat-soluble toxins. A 2012 review of 50 studies found that sweating actually works to remove lead, arsenic, cadmium, and mercury, especially within individuals who have high heavy metal toxicity. Sweating can also eliminate hormone-disrupting BPA, which accumulates in one’s fat cells. Although there is debate as to what the best type of sauna is for detoxing, some studies have found that far-infrared saunas are the most effective for the following reasons:
- Traditional saunas heat the air around you, while infrared light actually penetrates and heats your tissues directly.
- They do not get as hot. Infrared saunas are traditionally around 130-150 degrees instead of traditional saunas which are 180-200 degrees, so one can stay in longer without feeling like you may pass out.
- It is important to be mindful that sweating pulls electrolytes and trace minerals from one’s body as well as the toxins, so it is critical to drink plenty of fluids and get plenty of salt such as Himalayan pink salt since it is a mineral rich natural salt.
- Exercise & Movement: Exercise is a great way to flush toxins from the body, since it causes you to sweat as well as increases the breakdown of fat tissue, which releases toxins stored in your fat tissue. Working out also improves circulation, which provides more oxygen to the liver and kidneys so they are able to more optimally filter out toxins. For those who cannot do high-impact exercise, yoga and stretching exercises are recommended as the best way to move toxins out of your body. For those who are homebound by disease and lead an otherwise sedentary lifestyle, any kind of regular stretching and movement of the limbs can help maintain lymphatic flow.
- Activated Charcoal: Activated charcoal is a type of carbon that has a large surface area and strong negative charge. Charcoal works by binding to chemicals whose molecules have positive charges, such as polar mycotoxins, BPA, and common pesticides. Once these chemicals attach to the charcoal, toxins are able to pass them through the digestive system normally.
- It is important to note that charcoal can also bind to good stuff, so make sure not to take it within an hour of other supplements or food. A good idea is taking charcoal pills along with exercise or during a sauna session. They can work to absorb many of the toxins individuals release into their gut and GI tract.
- Glutathione: Glutathione is a strong antioxidant that protects the body from heavy metal damage. This substance also works to support liver enzymes that break down mold toxins and heavy metals. Your body typically will destroy normal gluthathione, so make sure to choose a liposomal glutathione supplement that can make it through your stomach without being broken down.
- Calcium D-Glucarate: Calcium D-Glucarate converts to glucaric acid in your body, which supports a crucial detoxification pathway in your liver. Glucaric acid prompts your body to bind and eliminate toxins that would otherwise wreak havoc on your health and performance, and it is available in supplement form online or in your local vitamin supplement store.
- Cryolipolysis: Cryochambers are gaining popularity with professional athletes and other high performers for their ability to quell inflammation. It turns out they can help you burn fat and release the toxins stored in it as well. A cryochamber uses liquid nitrogen to super cool your body, stimulating mitochondrial function and decreasing inflammation. Intense cold also destroys fat cells.
- Coffee Enemas: Depending on your comfort level, coffee enemas are something to consider for a fast and dramatic way to detox your system. According to the Gerson Institute, coffee enemas stimulate the body into generating glutathione, and if a patient holds the coffee in the colon for 12-15 minutes, the body’s entire blood supply passes through the liver 4-5 times, carrying poisons picked up from the tissues. In this way, a coffee enema acts as a form of dialysis of the blood across the gut wall. So not only does the enema clear out toxic debris from the intestines, but it activates the liver for further detoxing. We recommend watching this video for instructions on how you can do your own coffee enema at home.
The above material is provided for informational purposes only. The material is not nor should be considered a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.