Your pets are exposed to millions of chemicals considered toxins during their lifetime. The toxins are in our environment and are produced by our bodies and they have the ability to disrupt the essential functioning of the body, impacting DNA, cellular membranes, and protein. Repeated exposure to these toxins can contribute to adverse health effects in the short-term such as headaches, nausea, and fatigue; and in the long-term can contribute to chronic health issues.
Detoxification* is essential for ridding the body of toxins and preventing their “health robbing” effects. Although all cells have the ability to detoxify toxins, the most important organ for detoxification is the liver–- known as the body’s filter and purification system. The process of detoxification involves biotransformation of the toxic molecules into excretable metabolites. The term detoxification is often used to refer specifically to the intracellular biotransformation process.
Biotransformation of toxic substances into non-toxic metabolites takes place primarily at 2 major sites, although many systems are involved. As we mentioned, the majority of detoxification occurs in the liver, however it also takes place in the intestinal mucosal wall. Detoxification in the liver is divided into phase I reactions and phase II reactions. Proper functioning of both phases is essential because the reactive intermediate metabolites produced during phase I may be more harmful or toxic than the original substance. The 2 phases must be functioning in balance to successfully complete the detoxification process.
Nutrients used in phase I detoxification include riboflavin, niacin, pyridoxine, folic acid, vitamin B12, glutathione, branched-chain amino acids, flavanoids, and phospholipids.
Phase II utilizes glycine, taurine, glutamine, n-acetylcysteine, cysteine, and methionine. To prevent secondary tissue damage during detoxification, antioxidant nutrients such as carotenes, vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, copper, zinc, mangenese, CoQ10, thiols, bioflavanoids, silymarin, and pycogenol are needed.
Detoxification should be supported by a diet, preferably hypoallergenic, which meets basic daily nutritional needs, including adequate high-biological value protein content. Adequate hydration with clean water is necessary to promote elimination of biotransformed molecules. Measures should also be taken to ensure optimal functioning of the GI tract to prevent reabsorption of biotransformation metabolites.
* Detoxification is defined as any process of decreasing the negative impact of xenobiotics (chemicals or molecules that are foreign to the biologic system) on bodily process.