It's the perfect time to give your liver a break and start rejuvenating your body with a detox program. Why does your liver need a holiday? Unfortunately, no matter how well you eat or what part of the world you live in, studies show that you will still have some level of toxin exposure. Over the last 50 years, more than 80,000 new chemicals have been created resulting in an increasingly polluted environment. Age is therefore an important factor because the older we get, the more years of environmental toxin exposure we have experienced. Detoxification is a critical process by which the body rids itself of harmful toxins. Let’s look at the importance of the liver as the body’s primary detox organ and how exercise can impact detoxification. I will also help you get started on your own basic, healthy detox program. And of course, before starting any exercise or detoxification program, consult your family physician or naturopathic doctor, and be sure to listen to your body and not overdo it.
The liver plays a major role in metabolism, hormone production, and detoxification. It’s our liver’s job to neutralize toxins and eliminate them from the body using a complex two-step system. The first step is called phase I detoxification, where toxins are liberated from their storage sites into the bloodstream, becoming water soluble. This step involves a group of enzymes called p450 and requires various nutrients such as B vitamins, vitamin C, magnesium, zinc, copper, folic acid, as well as antioxidants glutathione, N-acetyl cysteine, lipoic acid, and branched-chain amino acids. It is within phase I that the metabolization of prescription medications, alcohol, and caffeine occurs. People who experience headaches with caffeine consumption or exposure to perfumes may have a deficiency in the phase I system.
Phase II detoxification involves taking the now water-soluble toxins and eliminating them from the body through the urine and stool. This is an important step that requires nutrients such as B5, B6, B12, vitamin C, folic acid, selenium, zinc, glutathione, and amino acids glycine, methionine, cysteine, taurine, and glutamine. You can think of phase I as taking the trash from the garbage can inside your house out to the street corner, and phase II as the garbage truck coming along to take away the trash for good. When these two phases of detoxification are overburdened, the body’s response to the buildup of toxins is to store them in far off places where their damage will be minimized: in our body fat tissues. As toxins accumulate, they disrupt and inhibit our mitochondria’s—the cells energy source—ability to burn body fat for energy, leading to weight gain and poor health.
So, how does exercise and Spinning® fit in with a detox protocol? Exercise is a crucial component of any well-rounded detox program. Exercise improves the delivery of oxygen to the body's tissues, accelerates the body’s ability to breakdown toxins, and also improves the flow of lymph (the immune cells of the body’s defense system) that further enhances detoxification. Also, exercise burns body fat, thereby your “toxic load.” Recent studies also confirm that exercise improves liver function, reduces fatty liver, and decreases liver enzymes, which reflects the overall burden on the liver. This is compelling evidence for incorporating exercise and Spinning classes into your detox program to keep your liver healthy and decrease your toxic load.
In order to reduce the overall workload of the liver and begin a basic detoxification protocol, you need to follow four simple steps. These steps will provide the body everything it needs to clean itself from the inside out.
First, remove the things that are hardest on your liver. This includes caffeine (coffee and chocolate are two common sources of caffeine in our diet), alcohol, refined simple sugars like candy and soda pop, and processed foods. This is the most important step and ideally you should completely remove these things from your diet for a full two weeks. However, if some of these things are difficult to cut out completely, then try to reduce your consumption by half. Second, increase the amount of nutrients the body needs for phase I and phase II liver detoxification. You can do this by simply increasing your fruit and vegetable consumption. Aim for five fruit and eight vegetable servings daily, and you can also add liver cleansing herbs like milk thistle, artichoke, and turmeric. Third, add water! By increasing your water intake you will keep cells fully hydrated and help kidneys filter out the toxins and waste through urine. Finally, incorporate exercise into your detox protocol to dramatically enhance your results. Within two weeks, your body will benefit from the effects of your detox efforts.
Let’s take a detailed look at how the Spinning program fits into your detox program. Beginners and those new to Spinning classes, or those who have a body fat percentage greater than 30% (or BMI greater than 30), should start with two Spinning classes per week at low to moderate intensity in order to maximize the use of body fat as a primary energy source. For instructors, or those with a body fat percentage of less than 30% (or BMI less than 30), three to four Spinning classes per week will enhance your detox program. Incorporate two moderate-intensity classes plus one or two high-intensity classes into your weekly routine. This combination will maximize blood flow to tissues and overall fat loss. Remember, before starting any exercise or detoxification protocol consult your family physician or naturopathic doctor, and be sure to listen to your body and not overdo it.
You are now ready to start detoxifying your body and maximizing your Spinning
classes to keep your body healthy and fit. Enjoy the ride!
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