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A Scientific Look Into Detoxification | Organic Pharmer

written by Stephanie Woods

You may have heard the word ‘detox' thrown around a lot these days in reference to everything from detox diets and supplements, to workouts and routines including meditation or mindfulness, or even in reference to our cleanses and broth. It’s a simple idea around taking control of your personal health and well-being: take steps to eliminate toxins from your life, whether physical, mental or emotional. But what does it really mean when we say that one of our products is ‘detoxifying,’ and how do these foods connect to the important systems within our body that carry out the work of detoxification? 


Why do we need to detox?

A diet high in processed carbohydrates and unhealthy fats can cause inflammation throughout the body, resulting in damage to cells, tissues, and even whole organs and organ systems. For example, in the digestive tract, regular consumption of highly processed foods can disrupt the microbial flora of the gut, resulting in decreased absorption of nutrients and damage to the gut lining itself. Gut dysbiosis and inflammation have been linked to larger problems like depression and autoimmune diseases. Here's an article on how processed foods affect brain health


Eating clean

When eliminating harmful foods and toxins from our diet we take the important first step of addressing the cause of inflammation in the body. So the first and most obvious answer to the question, “what makes our broth or cleanses detoxifying?” is that we are leaving these harmful chemicals found in most processed foods out. By choosing high quality, organic ingredients, we ensure that you are receiving products that are super clean and won’t burden your body with extra toxicity. A clean diet is the best way to stave off inflammation, boost your immunity and feed your gut what it needs to stay healthy.

delicious colorful plant-based lunch bowl

 

Nourishment for the body at all levels

Next we need to think about nutrition. It may be common knowledge that a healthful diet consists of eating a wide array of nutrient dense foods, but do these foods contribute to the process of detoxification? It turns out, they do! In order for the liver (an important organ in detoxification) to do its work of converting toxins into less harmful substances, it needs nutrients, and the more detoxification happening in the body, the more input of nutrients it needs to keep its engine going. Nutrients like vitamins C and E are antioxidants that help protect your liver from the damaging effects of free radicals and other toxic substances, while trace minerals like magnesium, selenium, and zinc all help the liver to process fats and even to increase the activity of antioxidant enzymes within the liver. By providing you with a diverse selection of whole fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes, our products ensure that you are getting the necessary building blocks for proper liver function and detoxification, as well as the fiber and hydration required for proper elimination of waste products.


The body and its organs are constantly detoxifying our bloodstream for us, without us really having to do anything. So what does it mean when we call a botanical beverage or a soup detoxifying? To answer this question, let’s take a tour of our body’s amazing organ systems starting with what’s often considered the main detoxification organ of the body, the liver. 



The Liver

You may already know that the liver filters toxins out of the body, like alcohol and pharmaceuticals, and transfers them to other organ systems for excretion. But aside from these more obvious toxins that we may regularly consume, the liver is also responsible for neutralizing toxins from the environment and from the foods we eat. So if we are eating a lot of processed foods with chemical additives, or breathing in polluted or smoky air, or drinking water that has harmful contaminants like lead or chlorine, our liver is working overtime to make sure that our body is not harmed by these toxic substances. That’s why we start all of our beverages with an herbal mixture to help the body protect and due it’s job better. For instance burdock root, which is found in our Alpha Green Botanical Beverage, is known as a hepatoprotective herb. It does what it sounds like, which is protect the liver from potential damage caused by the toxins it encounters when filtering our blood. The more damage the liver encounters, the harder it is for the liver to actually remove toxins from the blood, in which case they can keep circulating in the body and can cause damage elsewhere as well.


The Small Intestine

The liver filters the blood for waste products and toxins and passes them onto the gallbladder to be excreted into the intestines as bile where it can then pass through the rest of the digestive system and out the colon. So the intestines, both large and small, also play a big part in detoxification. The small intestine is where digestion and absorption of nutrients occurs. Once food reaches this part of the digestive tract it has already been pre-digested through the process of chewing and mixing with enzymes in the mouth, by acid in the stomach, and also by enzymes released from the liver and pancreas. Now that it has been broken down a bit, it is ready to meet our gut bacteria, which actually do a huge part of the digestion themselves! Without a healthy, happy microbiome, we may not actually be breaking down our food to the point where the body can absorb the nutrients within it. In order for our microbiome to thrive, it also needs proper nutrition, namely a type of fiber called inulin. Inulin is found in high amounts in foods like dandelion and burdock root, both of which are in our beverage Alpha Green, which, you guessed it, is a beverage that is crucial to our Detox Functional Cleanse

For further learning read our article Gut Health: What is the Microbiome.

scientific schematic of human detoxification

The Colon

After the small intestine we move onto the colon, and in order for the colon to function smoothly, two of the most important things needed are adequate water and fiber intake. All of our products are rich in plant-based fibers that are great for regularity of bowel movements. This fiber helps to trap and remove waste products from the body, including excess hormones like estrogen or cortisol. Without fiber to trap these molecules, they can be absorbed back into the bloodstream instead of being eliminated through our ablutions. Even with a super healthy and well-functioning liver, if we are not actually eliminating waste and toxins from the body on a daily basis, we aren’t really detoxing at all. Water intake is super important for colon motility as well, and if we aren’t getting enough it can show up as constipation. Our botanical beverages offer superior hydration through the electrolytes that are introduced by our botanical infusions. And of course, our healing soups are a great way to stay hydrated and get the adequate fiber and nutrition needed for a healthy colon.


The Kidneys

The kidneys also filter the blood, removing waste products, toxins, and any excess fluids from the body. Once again we can see the detoxifying effects of our botanicals in our beverage Alpha Green, which contains nettle leaf (what are nettles), an herb that is known to help kidney function and it actually can slightly increase output of urine. The kidneys are also responsible for controlling our blood pressure and electrolyte balance, both of which are key ingredients to a healthfully functioning body. 

 

Adrenals

Right next door, or rather sitting right on top of the kidneys are another vital organ to detoxification within the body: the adrenal glands. The adrenals are responsible for our stress responses, largely via the production of the stress hormone cortisol. When our bodies are stressed we have a hard time digesting food properly, which is fine for a short period of time, say when we are exercising or working at a high intensity level to get a project done. However, if we remain in a stressed out state for longer periods of time, say over weeks, or months, we can end up with a nervous system that is constantly on high alert, resulting in physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion. Stress can be hard to avoid in this modern world, but it’s important to manage our stress so we don’t become overwhelmed, and so we can keep our bodies doing the important work of digesting and absorbing nutrients and eliminating toxins. Two of our beverages contain a powerhouse for our adrenal system called schisandra berry. Found in our Marathon Protein Shake and Staminator Botanical Beverages, these drinks are perfect for stressful times, and when consumed over time, the schisandra in these drinks has been shown to make us more resilient to stress.



Detoxification is a Healing Process

So reducing toxic load and providing excellent nutrition are great ways to support the body’s natural detoxification. However, there is another important part of the story that we are overlooking if we stop here, namely healing. Yes, we need to eliminate toxins from the body to help it function the best it can, but also we need to repair the damage done to it by those toxins. 


And how exactly do we heal our bodies? Again, nutrition. Not only does our body do the amazing work of detoxification on its own, it also has the ability to heal itself. Disease and injury are reversible if we give the body what it needs. This is where our main philosophy of “food as medicine” comes into play. A whole foods, plant-based diet has been shown to reduce inflammation throughout the body and improve the function of its organ systems. Let’s look at some examples (5 Plant Based Health Benefits). 


Inflammation and Fats

Healthy fats like the omega 3s found in chia and flax seeds modulate inflammation in our bodies, meaning they help reduce inflammation in some areas and promote it in others. This is different from what happens when we take an anti-inflammatory drug, for example, ibuprofen, which acts to block or deactivate enzymes responsible for an inflammatory response. By consuming an “anti-inflammatory” plant, our bodies are still able to mount an inflammatory response, which is important because inflammation is a necessary part of healing. Without inflammation, the body wouldn’t know where to send immune cells in order to attack pathogens that shouldn’t be there, but also to help remove dead tissue and make room for new tissue growth. (Food can cause inflammation)


Fats are also the building blocks of our cell walls, and they nourish the brain, allowing for better cognition. When we consume unhealthy processed foods that contain trans fats or other unhealthy fats like those found in canola oil, these fats are actually incorporated into our cell walls. Here they can cause unwanted inflammation, which can damage a cell that was otherwise healthy.


Healthy fats, like those found in whole plants, are also essential in our endocrine system and can promote the production of calming hormones in the body. These hormones can help shift the body to a state of parasympathetic operation, also known as the “rest and digest” state, which is essential for healing. Our whole line of products aims to give you healthy fats, whether it's in our Power Protein Bar, our Pharmer Bread, or any one of our deliciously crafted healing soups. Our smoothies, like Trainer and Marathon, also are rich in healthy fats in the form of almond butter or sunflower and hemp respectively. 


The Immune System

Another thing to remember about healing is that it involves the removal of old tissue to make room for new, healthy tissue to grow. When a cell is damaged, it often will send out inflammatory signals to let the immune system know that there is a damaged cell that needs to be disposed of. This process is carried out by immune cells called phagocytes, which essentially “eat” and digest dead cells by engulfing them, and breaking them into smaller pieces. Some of these pieces can then go on to be reused by the body, while damaged pieces will be excreted as waste. The presence of damaged or dead cells also stimulates stem cell division, which starts the process of tissue regeneration. It should be noted that cell death occurs regularly, even without any inflammation occurring, in a process called apoptosis. Our bodies regenerate constantly without prompting, but unwanted inflammation like that caused from eating processed foods, can cause further cell death and tissue damage. Both our Defense+ beverage as well as our Immunity Shot contain the same immune-boosting tea of Elderberry, Elderflower, and Echinacea. Studies show that Elderberry has antiviral properties, and can reduce the length of a cold. Both Echinacea and Elder plants are considered immunostimulants, which means they activate more immune cells to provide a larger response to inflammation or an invading pathogen. (further reading: The 9 hallmarks of aging)



The Lymphatic System

Now let’s take a look at the site of our immune system: our lymphatics. Our various immune cells, which are responsible for both inflammatory responses and the cessation of those responses, are carried throughout the body via the lymph, which is made up of fluid from blood plasma, proteins, cellular debris, and bacteria. While the circulatory system carries blood containing oxygen and other nutrients to cells and tissues, the lymphatic system gathers all unwanted materials from the tissues of the body and returns these materials and fluids to the bloodstream. From here the body can then filter out any unwanted substances and excrete them. Calendula is an excellent example of an herb that promotes the function of the lymphatic system, and it’s found in our Flow Botanical Beverage. Drinking this beverage, which also contains gut nourishing Burdock root, can help to flush the lymphatic system and clear lymph containing toxins and unwanted cellular debris from the body. 

overview of the body's Lymphatic system

The Nervous System

We can’t have a discussion about healing the body without talking about the all important nervous system, which is integrated with every organ system in the body. Without adequate sleep and rest, our bodies are unable to repair themselves. Our Relax Botanical Beverage is a great way to shift the nervous system to a parasympathetic state, where we can experience calm and our bodies can take a break. Lavender, lemon balm, and chamomile are great herbs to calm the nervous system, and are gentle enough to be used in children. As stated above, healthy fats are super nourishing to our nervous system, and that’s because a large part of nerve tissue itself is made up of fats. New research has shown that our brains are plastic, meaning that they are constantly building new pathways and breaking down old ones, and in order to do this work the brain needs healthy fats to act as building blocks. Also, the signaling molecules used in the brain are made up of amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins, so we need adequate amounts of protein as well for a healthy brain and nervous system. Our Relax beverage contains both healthy fat and protein from the addition of our sunflower-hemp milk, and with the combined botanicals, is the perfect remedy to a stressful day.



A Holistic Approach

So this was just a little tour of the important systems of our body that keep us functioning and performing well so we can accomplish the tasks we set out to do in our day. Our whole body is important, which is why we believe at Organic Pharmer, in a holistic approach to health, providing you with the outstanding nutrition that your body needs and deserves. Our botanicals can support you in whichever way you need, whether its immune support, detox, relaxation, or all of the above. We hope this helps to clarify which products are right for you on your healing journey, but as always, we are here to help! Please reach out to us if you have any questions regarding a specific product at info@organicpharmer.com. And enjoy!

 

P.S. if you're interested in trying a detox, but don't think you can make it the full 3 or 5 days try our 1 Day Detox for a quick reset or first time user. 


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