I've had several veggie and vegan friends ask me how I can consider eating liver and animal fats, when these are the very places that concentrate environmental toxins. I never know how to respond to this, because it seems true at face value. What do we do about toxins concentrating in organ and fat tissues?
asked byNala_Walla (300)
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on October 10, 2011
at 06:07 AM
I've been practicing medicine for three decades and I've never seen a clinical case of toxicity from usual amounts of fat and liver ingestion. Of course, that doesn't mean it can't happen....
Long-lived marine fish reportedly accumulate mercury and PCB's, so some advise to avoid those. Again, I've never seen a clinically significant case of such poisoning in a human. A half century ago there were some cases of mercury poisoning from fish consumption in coastal Japan cities. My understanding is that the water there was highly contaminated, before the days of environmental awareness.
on October 11, 2011
at 03:32 PM
From Chris Masterjohn's Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease article:
Contrary to the popular misconception that the liver ???stores toxins,??? its actual function is to process toxins into forms that can be more easily excreted. It mixes these processed toxins into the bile, together with toxic metals, glutathione, and many other substances before sending the bile out into the intestine. Glutathione protects the intestines from oxidative damage and is efficiently reabsorbed. We excrete most toxins that are packaged into the bile through either the feces or urine, but there are some ???poorly behaved toxins??? that constitute exceptions. For example, methyl mercury and arsenic are efficiently reabsorbed and circulate through the body repeatedly. Diclofenac, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), uses its excretion into the bile as an opportunity to cause intestinal damage. By and large, however, the excretion of toxic drugs, metals, and environmental chemicals into bile means their safe elimination from the body.
on October 10, 2011
at 02:00 PM
Our bodies (and animals) aren't designed to "store" toxins. That doesn't make any evolutionary sense. Why store a toxic compound within our body? That's not to say that our bodies don't inadvertently store undesirable compounds at times under certain conditions.
The liver (and kidneys) detoxify and eliminate toxins. It's simply ignorance to think these organs are "icky" because they deal with toxins.
Other bodily tissues can accumulate various toxins, but not by "choice". Lipophilic "greasy" molecules do tend to get sequestered into fat where they're not readily eliminated. They're "happiest" being dissolved in our bodies' fat. These molecules include things like: BPA, PFOA, PFOS, PHAs, PCBs, etc... Hydrophilic "water-soluble" compounds are less of a problem with bio-accumulation. They tend to stay in circulation and get processed and eliminated via liver/kidneys. Heavy metals, such as mercury, will however associate with proteins and are very slow to be eliminated. This explains why large ocean fish tend to accumulate mercury, as they concentrate it up the food chain.
on October 16, 2011
at 10:33 AM
Liver doesn't store toxins, but filter them. Thats when we talk about healthy liver. Liver that can not keep up with the toxin pace will keep more toxins then healthy liver. The secondary storage for toxins is fat - its better to move them there where they are inactive then let them circulate around. Its well known pheomena that people can be poisoned by the toxins that are released from the fat cells once one starts to lose weight. The other major organ that serves the purpose is skin (for instance, acne are described as 'angry liver' in Chinese medicine).
With calorie restriction and/or fat burning in place, you can't rely only on food to proper detox. You may risk it, but there are better, proven and non toxic helpers.
- Vitamin C is universal detoxing agent. It does it so well that you really have to be an idiot not to use it.
- Selenium binds to mercury making it inert. The resulting compound may be stored in some junk (i.e. lipofuscin and friends) or removed from the body.
- Clay/Zeolit are well known detox agent. Zeolit is used extensively with animals and clay has long history of safety and beneficial use in treating disease.
- Whey/NAC are also used to detox liver. Whey is used for thousands of years for such purpose.
Some people will use whatever reasoning not to use supplements. Don't fall for this 'naturalism'. You need to embrace the proven things modern science gave us, thats what differs this age from all before. That doesn't mean you could eat junk food. People will tell you that the food is most important and I don't argue that, but if you add supplements its WIN WIN combination.
Any input you have can be defined by the ratio of benefit/harm. Each input brings both. You aim to increase this number.
on October 16, 2011
at 07:31 AM
The truth is no Food including vegetables is particularly "safe".
PCB/Dioxin contamination is just one issue (and one we don't try to bring to light) particularly because if you really examine the science you start to see that our exposure levels as americans in general is ridiculously high.
Unless you grow your own vegetables, ensure your compost is toxin free, don't use weed killers etc., your veggies are not really any safer either.
It amuses me to no end when I step on an "Organic Farm" and see fishmeal or bonemeal for example being used as fertilizer. No doubt it definitely is a high quality fertilizer, and probably superior to the chemical crap fertilizers they could be using, still its pretty funny that plants are up higher on the food chain than fish ;). Anyway toxins can get into the soil which can then get into the plants which will then get into your system when you eat said plants. When the Tofu/brain atrophy study was published in fact it was theorized that toxins accumulated within the tofu were too blame.
Until they come up with some bio-engineered vat grown, hypo-allergenic - perfect protein substitute, and we clean up the mess we've made to the environment, if you are trying to avoid toxins, limiting exposure (by eating less in general) is probably your best bet.
on October 11, 2011
at 02:05 PM
To clear up the part about the liver - the liver is the organ that governs the body's handling of toxins. Toxins are not stored in the liver, however. They are stored in the fat cells of all mammals and this is why it is important to eat organic.