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Is really possible to "detoxify?" And what is a "toxin," anyway? Here is short but practical guide to removing toxins from the body, without the need for exotic foods, expensive supplements, or bizarre health practices.

Everybody's health depends on detoxifying enzymes. These enzymes are so important to human health that the body makes them for itself. Simple choices in diet and lifestyle are all we need to reinforce our natural abilities to detoxify, without any need for expensive foods, the latest and greatest nutritional supplements, or hard-to-follow and hard-to-understand natural health practices.

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The Liver Is the Body's Detoxifying Organ

While there are detoxifying processes all over the body, most detoxification takes place in the liver. The liver creates a family of enzymes known as cytochrome P450 (or CYP, for short). These enzymes change molecules in specific ways to make less, or in some relatively uncommon instances, more toxic.

The way the CYP enzymes work is by combining toxins and potential toxins with oxygen, O2. One of the oxygen atoms combines with the target molecule to transform it. The other oxygen atom combines with hydrogen ions ("acidity," in this case a good kind of acidity) from the bloodstream to make H2O.

CYP enzymes aren't unique to humans. Just about every life form makes them, including other animals, plants, bacteria, fungi, protozoans, and even fungi, although none of the 11,500 enzymes in this family has been detected in E. coli. 

The thing that is important to understand about liver enzymes is that they don't exist in limitless amounts. If the enzyme is busy detoxifying one chemical, it can't detoxify another. "Toxicity" often is a matter of too much of a load on the liver.

The Liver Is Also Sometimes the Body's Pre-Toxifying Organ

Sometimes not having "enough" liver enzymes is a good thing.  The liver enzyme CYP1A1, for instance, transforms otherwise harmless chemicals in tobacco smoke into the carcinogens that can cause liver cancer. Before the liver changes these chemicals, however, they are not carciogenic. People who have genes for "highly inducible" CYP1A1, meaning it is easily "switched on" by exposure to chemicals like those used in dry cleaning and in making gasoline, are far more likely to get lung cancer. For these people, avoiding chemical pollution may be as important as avoiding tobacco smoke.

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