In the busy and unfortunately much polluted world we live in, there is no escaping the fact that our livers may be struggling with the process of detoxification. This may lead to a build-up of toxins including chemicals, heavy metals and medication but also hormones and other compounds produced by our own bodies which need eliminating.
If you’re looking to understand what detoxification really is and how to best support your body, do take a look at my recent blog to learn all about the pros, cons and side-effects of doing a ‘detox’. It will give you a great starting point and provide you with a simple step by step detox plan.
In this blog I’ll be sharing a quick recap of the basics but focusing in on the importance of omega-3 when it comes to detoxification. So let’s do a deep dive into the many omega-3 benefits.
First of all let’s explore why supporting detoxification really isn’t an option anymore. From heavily processed foods and chemicals in cosmetics and cleaning products, heavy metals and building materials to micro plastics and other toxins found in tap water, scientists estimate there are around 144,000 toxins in the world (both environmental and man-made) which are linked to illness and disease. As a result, our liver, which should be able to handle toxins as they enter the body, becomes overloaded and congested. This is problematic as the liver is one of the most important organs in your body. It’s therefore fair to say that all of us can benefit from supporting the liver in detoxing our body.
Let’s start with a quick recap of the key steps to follow when starting out on a detox:
Whilst the first and most logical step is of course to reduce the toxins you expose your body to, this is easier said than done and your options may be limited. So what else can you do to support your liver? Step 2 focuses on elimination pathways including regular bowel movements, exercise and good hydration. We also want to look at providing the liver with the nutrients needed to do its job including but not limited to B-vitamins, sulphur and amino acids. We can further support the process by inducing the various liver phases in order to optimise its function. This can be done by using herbs, spices and other compounds which help to keep everything moving. (Take a quick look at my previous article for more details on the above.)
So where does omega-3 fit into all of this?
One of the most important steps when looking at detoxification is protecting our liver from damage! As it deals with a huge amount of toxins round the clock, the liver can easily become harmed in the process which of course will impair its ability to do its job. Liver damage is very serious and can have a huge impact on your body as it has more than 500 vital functions. Symptoms of liver impairment or congestion can include fatigue and weakness, brain fog, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, nausea and itchy skin to name a few.
We can help protect our liver by eating a well-balanced diet high in antioxidants, anti-inflammatory compounds and the right building blocks for repair. Omega-3 fatty acids are essentially one of the key ingredients needed to protect your liver from oxidative damage and keep its cells healthy and functioning. Essential fatty acids are in fact required in all functions of the liver including detoxification.
Its role goes even further. On a molecular level, everything in your body is made from cells and each cell has a membrane. These membranes are absolutely crucial for your health and wellbeing as they’re responsible for getting nutrients into the cell, eliminating waste from the cell and cell communication. Cellular membranes are also where the majority of cellular reactions occur. So you can see that these are pretty crucial. When it comes to your liver it’s a healthy membrane that allows toxins to leave the cells.
You’ll understand the importance of essential fatty acids when I tell you that these membranes are made from fat! Most importantly when it comes to healthy membranes, we need a good supply of all essential fatty acids but critically we also need a much higher ratio of omega-3 vs omega-6 fats. As our modern diets tend to be woefully inadequate in omega-3 this can become problematic.
As well as helping to protect the liver from damage, omega-3 fatty acids are needed to build new healthy cell membranes and used by the body in the repair of any that have become damaged. Additionally, omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory so they can help lower inflammation in the liver as well as throughout the body.
So, for an optimal body detox we should definitely include plenty of omega-3 rich foods such as oily fish (salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, herring and trout), seeds including linseed and hemp seeds as well as omega-3 rich eggs and grass fed meat. Seaweed and micro algae can also be a good source. Depending on where you’re at in your journey it’s worth considering a high strength supplement to get you back to balance.
If you’re not sure how to move forward it might be worth speaking to a nutritionist who can point you in the right direction or create a personalised detox plan for you, depending on your current health, lifestyle and goals.
*This information is for educational purposes and should not replace medical advice. If you have a diagnosed medical condition you should consult a doctor before making any major changes to your diet or taking supplements.
Written by Uta Boellinger DipNut DipNCFED mBANT rCNHC