A lot of people start the new year with resolutions and often, one of these resolutions is doing a 'detox'. Detoxification involves the removal of toxic substances from the body. Detoxification occurs mainly in the liver, but the kidneys, bowels and skin are also important when it comes to clearing toxins from the body.
Unfortunately, detoxification has also become synonymous with cleansing - a term loosely used to describe all sorts of treatments aimed at purifying or purging the body. Many such treatments are unproven, make little sense physiologically, and can even be dangerous. True detoxification begins at the cellular levels, and involves enhancing the body’s natural mechanisms for eliminating toxins and harmful substances. Many natural compounds have been shown to support this process.
The liver is especially important for detoxification, and uses a process called phase II detoxification to detoxify these substances and eliminate them from the body. Increased phase II detoxification is protective against many cancers, cardiovascular disease, stroke and hypertension.
The consumption of leafy green vegetables has been associated with a reduced incidence of cancer. Research has indicated that this cancer preventative action is linked to compounds called isothiocyanates. One such isothiocyanate is Sulforaphane glucosinolate. This natural compound found in broccoli has been shown to inhibit tumor formation and support healthy detoxification.
Sulforaphane is a potent inducer of phase II detoxification enzymes, which are the enzymes in the liver responsible for the detoxification of toxins and carcinogens. Enhanced Phase II detoxification greatly assists the body in reducing the overall toxic burden as well as affording substantial other health benefits in immune function, heart health, antiinflammatory and anti-cancer effects. The most widely studied aspect of sulforaphane is its potential as an anti-cancer agent. Sulforaphane’s anti-cancer effect is attributed to the stimulation of phase II enzymes, apoptosis (cell suicide), cell cycle arrest (preventing replication), reduction of the spread of tumours (metastases) and the inhibition of blood supply to cancer cells (angiogenesis).