Modern life surrounds us with outside and toxic molecules (heavy metals, microbes, medicines, alcohol, food additives like non natural colorants, water pollutants, tobacco…). The organism created natural mechanisms of defence against these pathogenic molecules often called “”xenobiotics”. The two main excretion ways of our organism are the urinary way (through kidneys) and the biliary way (through liver, however less efficient than the first one). The body also has to fight against products created through the effort metabolism : uric acid, urea, ammonia… All those reasons explaining why detoxifying is useful (body detox), through detox drinks or other ways…
When the athlete eats and does sport, the first step for the ingested food is represented by the digestive system where lie several barriers: mucus, stomach acidity represented by a low pH, intestinal mucosa and intestinal flora. The second step is represented by the liver, key organ regarding the future of nutrients, but also regarding detoxification and elimination. Both are important ways for phases during and after the muscular effort (athlete’s metabolism also produces toxins that will be “treated” by the liver) : the “metabolic residues” are transformed into derivative products that are metabolised by the liver, the kidneys, then expelled through urine or bile.
Body detox : what are the organs the athlete has to focus on?
It is the first physical barrier with a lot of exogenous molecules that are more or less pathogenic. It implies an optimal integrity at the mucosa level. The sportsman has to reinforce this organ’s health to insure its good functioning and a good digestion-absorption-assimilation.
Blood, coming from the digestive tube (especially the intestine) and loaded with nutrients, is entirely led towards the liver by the portal vein. The liver is a “blood filter” and has a lot of functions:
- Secretion of bile (lipid absorption, fat-soluble vitamins, cholesterol excretion, xenobiotics…), iron, copper, some vitamins,
- Ingested food metabolism and detoxification:
- Protein metabolism: Capture of circulating amino acids (for the protein synthesis, the gluconeogenesis…), amino acids synthesis (glutamine), circulation liberation for a facilitated carry towards the peripheral tissues and deterioration into urea for elimination. It secretes a lot of proteins : secretory (albumine…), transport focused (lipoprotein…), coagulation focused..
- Fat-soluble lipids’ and vitamins’ metabolism : fatty acids synthesis, triglycerides, phospholipids, cholesterol, lipoproteins, biliary acids… Bioavailability of fat-soluble vitamins (A,D, E, K) solubilised by bile before their absorption or, like A or D vitamins, metabolised into an active form by the liver… Stocking place of fat-soluble vitamins… absorption, metabolism and stocking of K vitamin… Synthesis of transportation vitamins…
- Carbohydrate metabolism : glucose stock under the form of glycogen (glycogenesis) and deterioration of glycogen into glucose (glycogenolysis) in order to regulate glycemia (Glucose rate in blood) regarding needs.
- Stock of iron, copper…
- Immune role : liver is one of the 3 antimicrobial filters with the spleen and lymph nodes.
When this triad (liver, kidney, intestine) gets a disturbed homeostasis (“balance”), some functional troubles, associated with functions listed below, can occur : fatigue, concentration and memory problems, dizziness, headaches, mood changes, stress, irritability, anxiety, gain or loss of weight, fever, shivers, sleep disorders, water retention with or without edema, muscular rigidity, tendinitis, muscular cramps, digestive disorders, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, bad digestion, bad breath, loaded tongue…
Precisely, for the athlete, it can happen during training periods and/or long and intense competitions where production of “metabolic waste” is important and chronic (sportive season). It can also happen when physiological recovery phases are shortened, when there is a lot of xenobiotics (medicines, antibiotics…), when alimentation is qualitatively and quantitatively modified (Christmas for example, holidays…) usually corresponding to hyperphagia, a highly caloric alimentation rich with fat (lipids) and sugar and when our liver has to do a supraphysiological job, favouring its congestion.
Prophylactic dietetic (= preventive treatment)
These functional signs can lead to adopt a preventive dietetic in order to detoxify our body! The goal being to trigger the digestive sphere in its optimum way, and to potentiate the athlete’s “field” in order to do better performances. Before and after festivities, it will be interesting to have a specialised dietetic , detailed below.
The athlete must look for a prophylactic dietetic by associating a good intestinal health through fibres supply (prebiotic effect = artichoke, garlic, chicory, salsify, Jerusalem artichoke, leek, onion, banana…). These ingredients have virtues such as chelator effect (“trapping”) on non assimilable materials. The diet has to bring lactic ferments (probiotic effect) found in fermented milks, yogurts, kefir but also in living beer yeast, sourdough bread… in order to balance the flora and to get some micronutrients with virtues such as protection, antioxidant and detoxifying.
Most of xenobiotic coming inside our body are detoxified. The athlete has to have a good quality of sleep. A sea issued magnesium complementation can be very interesting thanks to its relaxing qualities regarding the neuromuscular level.
The water supply is essential (1,5L per day minimum) and can be adapted regarding the colour of urines (they have to be clear).
Take time to chew your food in order to facilitate digestive and absorption processes. Jaws have teeth for that purpose!
Body detox through alimentation
Alimentation has to bring a minimum of 30g (1 oz) of fibres per day (fresh vegetables and fruits, cereals, whole cereals) and some essential fatty acids beneficial for the health : Oméga 3, 6 and 9. This supply has to be optimal by varying good quality oils, first cold pressed, issued from olives, colza, nuts, sesame, hazelnuts… They shouldn’t be heated or cooked and are preferable added raw on your food. You have to avoid prepared meals bought at the store which are very often far from the nutritional supplied needed. That is because of more or less natural additives, more or less hydrogenated fats, loads of simple sugars and salt in excess (used for conservation) present in those meals.
The supply of citrus fruits (grapefruit, lemon, orange…) which are rich with citrate having alkaline effects, allow to better fight against the acid field and to preserve a normal hepatic function. Drinks rich with bicarbonates are interesting as a complement as they have the same effect on the blood pH.
The antioxidant effects rely on a diversified and varied alimentation, qualitatively and quantitatively balanced regarding every athlete’s specific needs. It is recommended to eat very little refined aliments. Indeed, this way they keep their nutritional virtues which make them the best protectors for our cells regarding high dose deleterious free-radicals (corresponding to the oxidation stress). Indeed, A, C and E vitamins, selenium, zinc… are all natural protectors!
Phytotherapy is also important : green tea, rosemary, dandelion, black radish, cherry stem, birch tree, oregano, thyme, desmodium, chrysantellum… Spices like turmeric, black pepper, cinnamon… are a very good complement.
Finally, limit the drink of alcohol beverages during regeneration phases in order to not overweight the hepatic metabolism.
Some interesting menu ideas:
Turmeric sliced chicken, sweet potatoes and salsify
Bio sourdough bread
Cinnamon cooked apples
Celery and chestnut soup
Hake filet, chards a 3 seed rice with thyme
Wholemeal sourdough bread
Goat milk yogurt with honey
Kiwi salad with green tea
Roasted pork with spices, spinach, quinoa pasta
Rye sourdough bread
Sports Dietitian Nutritionist