Nutrition Tips for Cancer Patients; Avoiding Environmental Toxins
Cindy Collins, Ph.D., R.D., Raquel Rivera, Student Assistant
Because the universe and out planet is constantly changing and evolving, the natural process of eating and what we eat, also changes. During this natural process, we may experience exposure to certain types of environmental toxins such as pesticides, additives, heavy metals and chemical preservatives.
The human body is a complex and efficient system; but, if it is flooded with toxins, damage can be done. Our bodies have a two phase enzymatic system which accomplishes biochemical detoxification. There are certain foods which contain nutrients that accelerate and support these detoxification pathways when we encounter toxins in our daily life.
The two phases that make up the detoxification process are called phase I and phase II. During phase I the toxin undergoes a chemical conversion. The converted chemical then enters phase II where it is rendered more stable. It can then undergo excretion as a waste product. When overexposure to toxins occurs, the chemical may instead continue to circulate inside the body and overtime may even deposit into the soft tissue and bone. This deposition and storage of toxins is termed bioaccumulation.
Proper nutrition can facilitate healthy processing of toxins. A diet high in fruits and vegetables contains an array of phytochemicals as well as fiber, both of which help to regulate detoxification. Other sources of fiber like beans, flax seeds, brown rice and oats can attach to toxins and carry them out of the body as gastrointestinal waste. In addition, foods that contain sulfur such as eggs, garlic and onion assist the body in producing glutathione, an antioxidant which plays a role in phase I and phase II detoxification.
Lastly, it is also important to maintain appropriate levels of liquids for proper removal of harmful toxins. Liquids such as water play a fundamental role in performing excretions out of the body, as well as sustaining and replenishing all organ systems. Another liquid that is shown to be helpful with detoxification is green tea which contains polyphenols and catechins, which have remarkable antioxidant power.
The human body functions best when in homeostasis, meaning balanced internal condition. It is beneficial to facilitate homeostasis with proper intake of nutrients. Nutrition can provide you with more energy as a result and preserve the integrity of your cells.
For more information on this topic, please refer to Food and Nutrition Fall 2012 from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietics.