Detoxification is a normal physiological and biochemical process that your body is executing at every moment of everyday. Not only is your body exposed to environmental toxins (more today than ever before) such as PM2.5, BPA, heavy metals and more, but your body makes its own toxins called endotoxins that need to be constantly excreted, as well.

Detox, simply put, is the process of removing specific molecules, whether from the outside world or created by your body, when the concentration becomes too high.

How does the body detoxify?

While each cell in your body is capable of metabolizing toxins, your most effective and important detox organs are the liver, kidneys and large intestine. That said, your liver is the MVP when it comes to detox, responsible for processing any toxin or “excess” that makes its way into your bloodstream, converting it into a “safe” molecule so it can make its way out of your body.

But where does the toxin go once the liver does its magic?

This is where the kidneys, gallbladder and colon come in.

Your liver doesn’t have a direct path to excrete toxins, so it has to depend on other organs to accomplish detoxification. Once your liver processes a toxin, it is converted to either a water soluble or fat soluble molecule. Water soluble toxins are carried back into the blood and filtered by the kidneys into the urine, while fat soluble toxins require a different route.

Toxins such as hormones, excess cholesterol or environmental chemicals and pollutants like BPA are bound to bile within the liver. From there, the liver shuttles the bile-bound-toxin to the gallbladder where it will be secreted into the small intestine. While bile is a vehicle to remove toxins, it’s also responsible for supporting fat digestion and this is where things get interesting.

Imagine your garbage truck (bile) stacked high with trash, ready to hit the road and go to the dump (your toilet). As the garbage truck enters the small intestine, you eat a fat-containing meal, low in fiber. Instead of transporting waste out, your garbage truck is going to grab the fat from your meal and help you absorb it through the intestinal wall and into the bloodstream. Your bile has done its job, but in the meantime, it’s also caused you to reabsorb the toxins your liver was trying to move out.

The solution to removing fat soluble toxins efficiently and safely is to consume plenty of soluble fiber on a regular basis. When you do this, the soluble fiber prevents the toxin-bound-bile from being absorbed so it can move into your colon. Regular consumption prevents too many toxins from being reabsorbed and keeps you consistently detoxing.

How does the health of your gut affect detoxification?

The gut is the super highway that toxins use to leave the body. So, it makes sense that gut health affects the efficiency of that process. To promote optimal detox, your gut needs:

A strong intestinal barrier

The integrity of the intestinal cells creates a biological, physical and chemical “wall” that prevents toxins from entering your bloodstream. When damage to those cells occurs, “intestinal permeability” toxins make their way into your body.

A balanced gut immune system

Lining the wall of your intestines is an amazing mucosal layer meant to protect the intestinal cells. In that protective layer, over 70% of your immune cells reside. Research shows that diets high in veggies and fruits provide flavonoids that promote a strong and balanced immune system in the gut while reducing inflammatory molecules that can damage the gut barrier.

A bounty of intestinal detox enzymes

Your intestinal cells are armed with one more tool to prevent toxins from entering your body, enzymes. These enzymes metabolize and break down toxins so they are safe and can be excreted without causing damage. Turns out that fruits and vegetables also provide a boost to enzyme production and have been found to improve the breakdown of dangerous toxins in the gut.

What are symptoms of poor detoxification?

  • Exhaustion
  • Irritability
  • Achiness
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Diarrhea
  • Rashes
  • Sweat
  • Chills
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • PMS

How to improve detox in the gut

Avoiding toxins such as processed foods and alcohol is a great first step. However, research strongly supports that a diet high in whole foods and fibrous plants is likely the best way to promote optimal gut detox. Plant-based whole foods provide antioxidants that support immune function, amino acids and micronutrients to promote intestinal barrier function and fiber to bind toxins and move them out. Current recommendations for veggie and fruit intake in the U.S. is 8-13 servings per day for adults and at least 5 servings for kids.

Soluble fiber, in particular, is a key ingredient to binding bile and moving toxins out of your system. It works in concert with the insoluble fiber found in veggies and fruits to optimize digestion.

Where Florasophy comes in

Consuming 20 grams of soluble fiber each day can be accomplished through diet alone, but it takes careful planning and diet adherence. Florasophy is a soluble fiber supplement that makes it easy to reach your fiber goals each day. Each tablespoon of Florasophy contains 4 grams of soluble fiber, in a clinical blend of different fibers that was designed to optimize overall health.

About Megan Barnett, MS, CNS

Megan Barnett, MSMegan Barnett is a functional medicine practitioner in Portland, Oregon. In her clinical practice, she helps patients identify the root cause of their health problems, then designs individualized and evidence-based approaches to alleviate symptoms and help their bodies heal. She has a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics from Kansas State University and a Master of Science in Nutrition and Functional Medicine from University of Western States.