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Functional Medicine Approach to Detoxification

Functional Medicine Approach to Detoxification

functional medicine functional nutrition information Sep 12, 2022

By Jennifer Engels, MD

Perhaps in reading articles about health issues, you’ve come across references to detoxification, also known simply as detox or cleansing. To be quite honest, there are a lot of products on the market today promising you something of a miracle improvement in your health through detoxification, but many of these have little, if any, scientific evidence to back their claims. That said, as a practitioner of functional medicine, I believe that detoxification has a rightful place in the practice of modern medicine, and I invite you to read on as I try to cut through the clutter and explain the importance of detoxification.

Your body’s natural detoxification

Today we live in a world in which enormous changes in industry and technology have rapidly and vastly changed our everyday lives. We’re surrounded constantly by products, services, and conveniences that were unheard of only a generation ago. Unfortunately, these modern marvels also come with a price.

I don’t mean to sound melodramatic in any way, but the downside of the advances that we live with daily is that we’re constantly exposed to chemicals and other toxins detrimental to our health. And many of these can lead to serious noncommunicable diseases such as obesity, asthma, cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, neurodevelopmental issues, and neurodegenerative conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease.

Fortunately, our bodies have the means, up to a point, of guarding against these toxins. As in previous articles, I don’t want to get too far into the scientific weeds, so suffice it to say there are three stages in our body’s reaction to the toxins we encounter. These stages are biotransformation, conjugation, and elimination.

  • Biotransformation – In this stage, toxic elements are transformed into different molecules that are sometimes less toxic but on occasion can also be even more toxic.
  • Conjugation – In this second stage, your body mollifies the still potentially hostile molecules into less toxic molecules that the body can excrete.
  • Elimination – Once your body has transformed toxins into benign molecules, they must be excreted through your urine, sweat, and stool.

Steps to support natural detoxification

As amazing as our body’s process of dealing with toxins may be, it is not perfect. Genetics can play a significant role by altering the detoxification pathways, either speeding up or slowing down one of the first two stages. Certain medications, foods, and other factors can also have a negative impact on the body’s detoxification process.

The bottom line here is that if the stages are out of sync, there can be problems. If, for example, stage one is turning out more toxic molecules than stage two can process, you wind up with a backlog of potentially harmful toxins in your body. Similarly, after stages one and two, if you cannot eliminate the toxins, they may recirculate through your body, potentially creating serious health issues. 

There are steps, however, you can take to help your body resist toxins.

  • Reduce your exposure to toxins. Steps you can take to accomplish this include washing all produce, including organics, to remove pesticide residue, using glass containers rather than plastic, to reduce your exposure to BPA and BPS, two harmful chemicals found in plastics, and limiting your consumption of alcohol to no more than two drinks a day for a man and one for a woman. The liver treats alcohol as a toxin, giving it priority over the breakdown of nutrients from food.
  • Taking proactive steps to support natural detoxification. Some of these include consuming ample amounts of fiber, getting seven to eight hours of sleep nightly, staying adequately hydrated to flush toxins from the body, and consuming foods having detox-supporting nutrients. These would include pomegranates, broccoli and broccoli sprouts, and green tea, among others.

Functional Medicine and Detoxification

While there are, as we have said, steps you can take to promote your body’s natural detoxification processes, we can provide additional assistance for you at WeCare Frisco. This is especially the case if you’re suffering from the following symptoms indicating your body’s load of toxins exceeds your body’s ability to eliminate them. These include:

  • Headaches
  • Irritability, anxiety, and depression
  • Fatigue
  • Sugar cravings
  • Brain fog or difficulty concentrating
  • Chronic digestive issues
  • Trouble losing weight
  • Skin issues such as rashes or eczema

If you’re suffering from these symptoms, help is available at WeCare Frisco. The goal of our metabolic detoxification protocol is to provide the consultation and testing leading to the creation of a detoxification program designed specifically for you, a regimen to provide the nutritional and supplement support needed to process and eliminate the toxins preventing you from living your life to its fullest potential and extent.

I urge you not to hesitate. At your earliest opportunity contact us at WeCare Frisco to schedule your initial consultation.

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A new focus, a new path forward

“I was absolutely fascinated,” Engels says, “by this new style of medicine that saw the patient as a whole biological system rather focusing on only one organ system at a time, such as Cardiology. This was a complete paradigm shift from conventional medicine and how I was trained.”