Members of the Brassica family, such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage, are rich in glucosinolates, including indole-3-carbinol and sulforaphane. This combination supports both phase 1 and phase 2 toxin processing.23 Thus, these foods have both direct and indirect anticarcinogenic properties. Sulforaphane is currently studied as a portent anticancer agent. The activity of sulforaphane includes increasing glutathione level, the induction of phase 2 detoxification enzymes, inhibition of carcinogen-activating phase 1 enzymes, induction of apoptosis and cell cycle arrest in cancer cells, and has anti-inflammatory properties as well.24
Ellagic acid and ellagitannins are constituents found in raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, pomegranates, and walnuts. Ellagic acids have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and free-radical scavenging activity. They have also been shown in numerous studies to provide excel lent support for phase 2 detoxification.25
A phytochemical found in oranges, tangerines, and caraway and dill seeds,26 limonene has anticarcinogenic properties and induces both phase 1 and phase 2 detoxification pathways.
This ubiquitous mineral is required for phase 1 detoxification. Supplementation is not usually necessary unless a deficiency has been identified, if excess body stores of zinc have been confirmed, or if zinc supplementation has exceeded 30 mg per day for more than a few weeks. Of significance, however, is that copper, in turn, can displace zinc, which also supports detoxification.
This tripeptide, comprised of cysteine, glutamic acid, and glycine, is the most important antioxidant in neutralizing free radicals produced by phase 1 detoxification pathways. Glutathione is also required for phase 2 detoxification. When high toxic loads burden phase 1 detoxification and elevate production of free radicals, increased glutathione may be required to prevent depletion that can lead to a cessation of phase 2 glutathione dependent pathways. Glutathione is available via diet or supplementation. Dietary sources include fresh fruits and vegetables (e.g., asparagus, avocados, walnuts) and cooked meat and fish. Glutathione supplementation has shown variable and sometimes negligible effects in increasing blood levels of this tripeptide. However, vitamin C, alpha-lipoic acid, glycine, methionine, and N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) support glutathione synthesis. It appears that vitamin C and NAC have maximal effects. In a case study of supplementation therapy for an individual with an inherited glutathione deficiency, either 3,000 mg of vitamin C per day or 800 mg of NAC were given to the patient for one to two weeks. Vitamin C supplementation increased GSH in red blood cells fourfold and plasma GSH eightfold. NAC increased GSH in white blood cells 3.5-fold and was increased in plasma two- to fivefold.27 In addition, whey protein concentrate supplementation has been shown to significantly increase glutathione levels with a dose-dependent response. In one study, 45 g per day of whey protein concentrate for two weeks increased lymphocyte glutathione by 24%.28
Deficiency of magnesium prevents proper phase 1 detoxification and leads to increased toxicity risks for people who are taking numerous medications.
Methionine plays a pivotal role in helping to ensure proper phase 2 detoxification. When toxic load increases, methionine is also converted to cysteine and glutathione to support maximal detoxification. Being that methionine can feed the pathway that results in excess homocysteine generation, other approaches should be implemented first, unless supplemented with adequate levels of methyl groups via folate, betaine, and methylcobalamin to enhance the conversion of homocysteine to cysteine. If methionine is used, monitoring homocysteine levels is warranted.
A rich source of sulfur in the form of cysteine, NAC helps to support glutathione-dependent detoxification. (See the previous section, ''Glutathione.'')
Essential for phase 1 detoxification, vitamin C, a potent water-soluble antioxidant, helps to quench free-radical damage and helps to fuel glutathione preservation. (See the previous section, ''Glutathione.'')
Crucial for phase 1 detoxification, this multifaceted mineral has both antioxidant and immune-supportive effects. Supplementation with zinc seems to be warranted for numerous reasons, and long-term use would be particularly significant in male patients because zinc helps to inhibit the 5-alpha-reductase conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone.
The elements mentioned previously are merely representative of numerous potential interventions; others worth consideration include choline, inositol, dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), artichoke, beet greens, selenium, B vitamins, and numerous amino acids.
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Detoxification is something that is very important to the body, but it is something that isn't understood well. Centuries ago, health masters in the East understood the importance of balancing and detoxifying the body. It's something that Western medicine is only beginning to understand.