Welcome to Pushing the Limits, the show that helps you reach your full potential with your host Lisa Tamati, brought to you by lisatamati.com.
Lisa Tamati: Hi, everyone, and welcome back to Pushing the Limits. And today I have just a super superstar for you, Dr. Bryan Walsh, who's sitting in Maryland in the USA. Dr. Walsh is someone that I've followed for a long time and learned from. He is one of the great teachers in biochemistry and physiology. And today we are discussing detoxing very relevant to this time of the year. And this is all really next level information. Because it's all about detoxing, like what are the actual physiological steps of a detox process? And what is the latest and current research. This is not something you read in a two page magazine article detox type of thing. But this is the real deal with someone who really, really knows his stuff.
Now, Dr. Bryan Walsh has been studying human physiology and nutrition for many, many years. And he spends his time sort of poring over the latest research and synthesizing all of that information for the layperson to be able to understand. And he also lectures at Western States University in biochemistry. And as a healthcare professional, he's a doctor of naturopathic medicine. And he has an online educational platform called metabolicfitnesspro.com, where he helps other health professionals like myself, and many, many others, as well as lay people with his programmes and courses.
And we're going to be discussing today, as I said, detoxing, how to do it properly, when not to do it, what to be aware of if you are doing it. And he's you know—Dr. Walsh is someone who's really known for challenging traditional dogma in health. And he actually goes and does all the research, does deep deep dives into all of the clinical studies into PubMed, and then brings us the latest and information. So he's really someone that you want to have on your radar, someone that you want to know, if you want the latest and greatest in information.
I hope you're enjoying your Christmas time, by the time this episode comes out, Christmas will have been passed. And we're into the new year. And hopefully the world is on a new trajectory and that 2021 is going to be a hell of a lot better. And what better way to start the year than with a discussion around detoxing and getting your body in good shape for the year ahead. So without further ado, I'll be heading over to Dr. Bryan Walsh.
And just a reminder too. If you want help with any health issues, if you are dealing with anything, please reach out to us firstname.lastname@example.org. You can reach me on email. If you're wanting information about our online run training programmes at Running Hot Coaching, want personalized run training, please do reach out to us as well. We just launched a new package that will be coming out in the next few weeks. So keep an eye out for that where we're going to be offering video analysis, as well as fully customized programmes and a session with me—all included in there in a package price. It's really really a no brainer. So if you want to find out about that, please reach out to us at email@example.com.
Of course our epigenetics programme is still open, if anyone wants to know and understand the genes—understanding everything to do with your genes, eliminating the trial and error for your body, understanding what foods to eat exactly, which areas you're predisposed to have problems with, how your brain functions, what your dominant hormones are all of this sort of great information. Please also reach out to us and we can put you in the right direction. We've done a few webinars already on our epigenetics programme. And in the coming weeks, we're also going to be having Dr. Ken McDonald on from PH-316, who's going to be going a little bit more deeper into this. So I hope you enjoy the session though for now with Dr. Bryan Walsh. And we'll head over to him right now.
Lisa Tamati: Well, hi everyone and welcome back to the Pushing The Limits. This week, I am super excited. I'm jumping out of my skin. I have a man who I really, really admire. I love his work. He's got an incredible brain. Just absolutely mind-mind conversation we were going to have today. I have Dr. Bryan Walsh with me. Welcome to the show, Dr. Walsh.
Dr. Bryan Walsh: Thank you so much for being here.
Lisa: It's a really, really an honour to have you on. Dr. Walsh, you’re still in Maryland, in the States? Can you give us a bit of a background just on who you are and sort of a quick synopsis and your background as a physician, etc.?
Dr. Bryan: Well, yes, I guess I should say it all started out, I was very much into health and fitness, even at a young age, quite honestly. I became a fitness professional—that’s how I started. And then I did a lot of orthopaedic work, so that led me to massage therapy. So I did massage and I was a fitness professional. And the problem is my clients would ask me health advice. And here in the States—I'm a law-abiding citizen—I could have talked to them about nutrition and supplements, but I wasn't allowed to with those things that I did.
So then I looked—and there's something in the States, it's a naturopathic physician, naturopathic doctor. I know you guys have naturopathic there. They're a little bit different. It's a four year postgraduate degree. So you go to four years of university, and the traditional four years. And then you have your doctorate. That sounded really good to me because I was already into alternative health. I was devouring books, on health, on herbs, on homeopathy, everything in the health. And that was the umbrella for all these things that I was interested. And I thought, wow, that's great, perfect.
So I went through four years of that. Spent way too much money. But it's also where I met my wife. So that is money rally well spent. Yes. Although we both went to school there. So we doubled our debt, essentially, by marrying each other. But what we quickly realized is that it didn't really prepare us to do what we wanted to do. And it didn't take long. I was sitting in front of patients, and I honestly—I didn't think I know what I was doing. I didn't feel qualified. I spent all that money over the four years of school with great classes, but it sounded like all these great topics but...
And so that started me—and this is all to tell you this story— where I realized I had to teach myself everything, that I had to reteach myself physiology. I know we're going to talk about detox today. But how I stumbled upon that what I'll call is the truth about detox. And so where I am today is I believe in old medicine, I believe in the body heals itself. But Western science and Western medicine is incredible. I mean, we owe much of what we know about the human body, in terms of mechanisms and pathways and how herbs even work in the first place, to Western science.
So what I tried to do is bridge the best of both, is to take the alternative nutritional functional health world, which is great for some things but horrible in others, and combine that with conventional Western medicine, which is great in some things, but horrible in others, and I try to connect the two. So I hope that gives you much of...
Lisa: That’s brilliant.
Dr. Bryan: I love science.
Lisa: And I love the way you sort of combine the traditional or the alternative with the allopathic sort of model because they do both have good things, and they do both have problems.
Dr. Bryan: Absolutely. And I can tell you, I love science. But I'll be the first to tell you that science will never prove some of the things in life—of the most important things, in relationships, in love, in health. We try to study how the brain works and I don't think we have any idea. We try to—we're doing genetic testing now, I don’t think… We talked about the microbiome, I don't think we know much of anything when it comes to these things. So, science is fascinating. It's so fun. It can occupy you for hours upon hours upon hours of reading and the rabbit hole of PubMed, but I don't think it will ever offer some of the answers.
So that's kind of where I live is that we live in this expansive universe full of all sorts of possibilities. But here on Earth, science really helps us a lot understand certain things, but it doesn't contain all the answers.
Lisa: It's a very humble approach. And I think a really good place to start because we know a lot, we don't know a lot more. But we have to sort of work with what we've got and the best knowledge. And this is something that I've really enjoyed out of like, I think I've devoured everything I could find on the internet of yours. And I must say sometimes, I'm like my brain is spinning, trying to keep up and it's fantastic. And I was talking to a colleague who's also really into you and he's got a master's in physiology and he said, ‘Well, I struggled, too, so don't feel bad’.
But you do have a way of putting things into analogies that I have just found absolutely fascinating. And today we're going to go into detoxing. And there is an analogy in this story that I've heard you speak of a couple of times that really went, ‘Aha, I get it now’. So definitely want to delve into that analogy. But so just to start with, with detoxing. Let's look at what detoxing in the public realm—if you like—in the popular—the magazines. People talk about detoxing a lot. And I think that we don't understand what detoxing is. So let's start there. What is a proper detox?
Dr. Bryan: So what you just described, that's the problem. It's a mess. I was just in the checkout line at the grocery store, two days ago. I even took a picture of my phone to send my wife and it was like, ‘A faster way to do a liver detox’, and it was some medical doctor. I thought, ‘I'm not even going to open that magazine. It's going to be garbage’.
You’re right. People say, ‘drink a little bit of lemon juice in the morning, and that's a great way to detoxify the body’. And then I was in the airport one day, and I saw these foot pads that you put on your feet to help pull toxins out of your feet. And then there's the foot pads, and there's colonics. And there's all these different things, and that's why conventional medicine doesn't believe any of this because you have these people saying, ‘Well, when you skin brush, then you're detoxifying yourself’, maybe, maybe not. But no wonder they think that we're a bunch of quacks because if you stand back and look at all that nonsense, it does look like quackery.
In the 80s, detox, the only detox there—unless you were like a hippie—in the 80s, was like a celebrity going through some kind of rehab for some kind of addiction, alcohol or drug addiction, then they would go through some kind of rehabilitation, so that was a detox. That was the only detox there was. And then all of a sudden everybody started getting on this detox bandwagon. And the thought is that we are bombarded with—we’re basically these toxic waste cesspools of disgusting that’s inside of our bodies, and the only way to get rid of it is to do these to detoxify.
Now, there's some truth to that, some truth. But our body is designed to—a better way to say detoxification is biotransformation, first of all. So there are two different types of we'll call—I don't even like the word toxins, quite honestly. You can call them xenobiotics, starting with it with an ‘x’. Xenobiotic means it's something foreign to the body. You can also call them environmental pollutants, environmental toxins, whatever you’re going to call it. Some people say synthetic, but that's not true because Mercury is toxic to the body in high amounts. So, for lack of better terms, we can call them toxins, xenobiotics or whatever. But they're things that are foreign to the body that in excess can cause damage.
There's essentially, for simplicity sake, two forms, there's water soluble, and there's fat soluble. Water soluble, by and large, I don't think we have to deal with too much, because our body is really good at getting rid of it. Our body is so much water already, we don't have to do anything to it. If we have access to something that's toxic, and it's water soluble, our body's pretty good at getting rid of it.
And when you look at the ways of getting rid of something, it's anywhere that water goes. So sweating, obviously, urinating, it's quite a bit of quite a water. In faeces, there's a small amount of water that gets expelled there. And even technically—and people have measured this but in tears or saliva, you can get rid of toxins too. So anything where water is leaving the body, then water soluble toxins are leaving as well. And I personally believe that those aren't much of a concern to us because our body... It's kind of like if you take a whole bunch of B vitamins. Technically, those can be toxic in high amounts but they're water soluble in your urine turns glow in the dark yellow if you take too much of that because your body is getting rid of it. Same with vitamin C or any of the water-soluble vitamins.
Interestingly—and I hadn't thought of this as a way of describing this, but the vitamins that they say to be careful with are the fat-soluble ones like vitamin A, D, and K because they can accumulate and then those are the toxic ‘vitamins’ if you look at conventional medicine. So fat soluble toxins, those ones are more of concern because they can get stored and the body has to work a little bit harder in order to get rid of them. In other words, you have to take something that's fat soluble, turn it into something that's water soluble, and then the body can get rid of it and all those pathways that we talked about.
So the body has built in detoxification or bio transformation processes—everybody says it's the liver but it's not. The enzymes and steps necessary for this are found in a number of tissues and in quite a bit. So, things that have exposure to the outside world, the skin has this disability, the liver does, the kidneys do, the lungs incidentally do, the testes in a guy does when we consider the location as exposure to the outside world more so than some of the internal organs. And we can go into the details of this but basically this fat-soluble toxin that can cause damage to the body gets metabolized or bio transformed, turned into a water-soluble toxin, if you will, a compound. And then is easily excretable in—again sweat, tears, saliva, urine, or a little bit in faeces. So yes, that's kind of a nutshell version of it, I think.
Lisa: Okay, so. So let's look quickly at what are toxins and what sort of a fix they have in the body? So we're talking things like your heavy metals, your Mercury's that you mentioned, your pesticides, your preservatives in your food, there's chemicals that were exposed to.
Dr. Bryan: So that's honestly—this is part of my problem with the industry is we can't even decide on what a toxin is because the toxin if you think about it, a toxin is something that could cause damage to the body. Right? So then you could say a reactive oxygen species or oxidative stress is a toxin, technically. Hormones, if you have too much of a hormone, can that cause damage to the body? It absolutely can. So, then all of a sudden is a hormone a toxin.
And so that's where we start to run into problems, is that we just throw out these terms like toxins. Well, what is that something that? Something that damages the body? Well, a hammer, if you hit me on the head is going to damage my body. Is that a toxin? Let's say, oh, it's internally. All right, well, so how about lipid polysaccharides from a gram-negative bacteria? That's an infection. Is that a toxin? Yes, it is. So that's our—aflatoxin, you have mould in your house. And so, it ends up being this really broad term that people have a hard time describing.
Now, so what I would suggest. The one that people are most talking about, that's why I think environmental pollutant, or environmental toxins, make more sense because usually what people are talking about are things that are outside of us that get inside of us and cause damage of some kind. And there's three, let's just say major categories of that there's actually more. One would be things off the periodic table. So that's the heavy metals, by and large, so aluminium, arsenic, mercury, all those types. Even copper, copper is toxic. Iron is toxic.
Then there's—loosely the category that you can call persistent organic pollutants. And that's all the ones that get all the press, like this phenol and phthalates and dioxins and all those different things, pesticides. And then there's the ones that you could call them volatile organic chemicals, or VOCs, those ones are usually inhaled. So, you paint, you’re repainting your house, or your apartment and the smell that you get, or cosmetics or toiletries, cleaning products. If you buy a brand new piece of furniture and that off gassing, carpets. So those are the— mean, there's more, but those are the three major categories that I consider so... But then you consider where those come from, in the food that we eat, in the water that we drink, in the air that we breathe, it literally is everywhere.
Lisa: Yes. So we are toxic.
Dr. Bryan: Well, yes. We are. And I long time ago would say that we're all toxic, and everybody needs to detoxify. And I've tempered that a little bit because like for example, there's one published paper that suggests—well, okay, I should take a step back—everybody is exposed, everybody is exposed, period, end of story. To prove otherwise, I would need to see that proof.
Now, it's going to be different considerably, however, based on your location, where you live. In New Zealand versus America. Here in America, I'm in Maryland, but that's going to be a lot different. I'm near farmland. So, we might have exposure to pesticides, but not so much some of the other things that might have been more of an urban area. In New Zealand there’s other different things.
So also that depends on one's lifestyle. So me and my family largely eat organic food as much as possible. We use—I don't say green cleaning products, but we use better cleaning products than just the standard things. And so we probably have less exposure than somebody following a standard diet using standard toiletries, cosmetics, yes, and all those different things too. So, we all have exposure. Yes, that's it. I think I believe that's irrefutable.
Is it stored in all of us? And I'm going to go ahead and say yes, but to different degrees. For example, you said you're a professional athlete. You have sweat a lot more than the majority of people. There's also some really interesting evidence showing that exercise actually upregulates certain detoxification or bio transformation enzymes. So you might actually be more adapted to that.
Lisa: Another good reason to do it.
Dr. Bryan: Absolutely. You know what? It’s so funny, like, you know you're supposed to, but then you just see more and more reasons. And it does, it absolutely has been shown in papers, to upregulate certain detoxification enzymes. In addition to the fact that you're sweating more so than somebody who's sedentary. So, I haven't seen any literature on this, but I believe that most athletes are probably less toxic than the general public.
Lisa: The sweat is also a preferred pathway for some of the toxins to leave the body.
Dr. Bryan: If used badly, yes. The skin has been called the third kidney before, which is kind of a cute thing to call it. I mean, is it or is it not? I mean, it's not like you're urinating out of your skin. So that should be gross. Next time you sweat, think of that. No, but it's a major excretory organ.
And I will add this, there's some really interesting, really interesting scientific papers — small, unfortunately, not a lot of money in this industry to test this stuff. But they will take a group of people, and they will test their blood, their urine, and their sweat for a specific xenobiotic or environmental pollutant. And they will find in many cases, it's not in the blood, it's not in the urine, but it is in the sweat.
Lisa: Exactly. Yes. The preferred pathway, yes.
Dr. Bryan: That's an indication that a) it's being stored and b)... Yes, whether it's a preferred pathway or not, what that means to me is that it's probably stored in the tissues. Because you think about the blood, the blood is circulatory and it's bringing things around. The kidneys are filtering the blood. So, if it's not in the blood, that makes sense, it's not in the urine. What that means is it's stored. It's if it's not coming out in the urine, that means it's not in the blood, that means it's stored in tissues. And so, it isn’t going out. So whether it's preferred by the body or not, I don't know. But that just means that it's right there, right close to the tissues.
Lisa: Yes, In coming out.
Dr. Bryan: Right close to the periphery, and it's coming out via the interstitial fluid and stuff surrounding itself. But here's another thing to consider, too, when you talked about the demographic of the population that listens to this is, while most athletes probably have less—I mean, when it gets a broad state, you can't say yes, might have less because of exercising, because of firing. But are they exposed to something more than might somebody else be?
So for example, if they're drinking out of plastic bottles that have been warmed up sitting in the sun all day, like might they have more excess pollutants...
Lisa: More BPA...
Dr. Bryan: ….these people are outside exercising in polluted area.
Lisa: Exhaust fumes.
Dr. Bryan: Exhaust fumes. I mean, you think about your respiratory rate when you're exercising, your respiratory rate is quite a bit higher than somebody who's sedentary. So then all of a sudden all those...
Lisa: And oxidative stress
Dr. Bryan: Yes, absolutely. So there's a lot of factors to consider for sure.
Lisa: Yes. So we've looked at—these are the broad categories of toxins. And yes, we're probably all toxic, and we need to be doing or thinking about doing a detox—I don't want to say protocol—but to thinking about it constantly detoxing. And you touched on the couple of studies here where they measure the sweat, they measure the urine, and so on, and they got different measurements for different things. That's one of the problems, isn’t it? The assessment criteria. Because obviously, if we're doing a detox, we want to be able to assess, are we actually getting—and when you dived into the literature of assessments in defining out which is the best—how do I see if I'm toxic? What did you find in the literature around all the assessments?
Dr. Bryan: So in the functional medicine world, there's no shortage of—well just tests in general and really attractive, good looking tests that when you look at them, you want to run them. Like, ‘Well, I would like to run this on myself. forget my patients or clients I want to run these tests’. The scientific validity on a lot of these tests is not there at all, despite what people might say or think.
Yes, so I'm not opposed to testing for toxins. But there's so many variables to consider, and the practitioners that are running them, I don't think are considering these. So I think a lot of people are using them—they're wasting their money on them because they're not considering all these variables. So, for example, the first question to ask is, ‘what tissue do you test’? Do you test the blood? Do you test the urine? There are hair tests. Technically, in the literature, they test fingernails for toxin exposure. There's so many different ways of testing–fat biopsy, you want to take a needle into your fats, take some of it out and test that.
And actually—I'll say since I said that—fat biopsies are considered to be the gold standard for internal toxic burden, and that would make sense if that's where they're stored. But the problem is, according to research—and this is done on humans, mind you—that different fat depots in the body store differing amounts of things. So, you might inject it into your, your, your butt fat, and find a whole bunch of one thing, and then you do it to your abdominal fat, and you come up with a higher amount of something else. So, if that's the gold standard, and you can't even have any consistency in the human body, then that's not going to be accurate, either. And if that's the gold standard, then that's not accurate, then none of them are going to be accurate.
So, the short version is there are some—I guess I'll say, like validated as much as you can questionnaire—subjective questionnaires that one can take and get an idea of how toxic they may or may not be. Now, it's not quantitative. It's quantitative in the sense that you get a numerical value for the score. But it's not quantitative, in terms of like, This is how toxic I am. I am 80% toxic out of 100’. It's just a subjective questionnaire. But if somebody were to take a questionnaire like this, and scores high...
Lisa: We've got a problem.
Dr. Bryan: ...and then does a few detox rounds or whatever, for a few months, six months, nine months, whatever it is, and then does it again and their scores are lower, that's good enough to suggest that they're doing better. And what's interesting about some of these questionnaires, is they not only asks things like, ‘do you live around industry? Do you have exposure to petrol or to gas’? But your symptoms as well. And so it takes all of these considerations, like, ‘Yes, I live and work around a lot of chemicals, but I don't have symptoms’ versus somebody that has a whole bunch of symptoms that are associated with toxic exposure, but they don't live around them. So, it does—they really are comprehensive.
Lisa: I’d like to get a couple of the links to those if we could possibly see.
Dr. Bryan: And listen, it's free. That's the very nice thing. You don't have to spend 300 US dollars on some blood tests that may or not be accurate. And what people are really interested in is, ‘how toxic are you’? Well, if my surroundings and my symptoms suggest that I am, based on these questionnaires, that's good enough for me. And as opposed to test, if you do it six months later, and it's approved, then I think you're probably doing a little bit better.
Lisa: It's a little bit like your cell blueprint, which I found brilliant, by the way, and if anyone wants to check out that we can put the links. That questionnaire that you've developed there gives the practitioner the direction to go and we don't have a specific, ‘This isn’t definitely but hey, you might want to check your thyroid. Hey, you might want to go and check if you've got a parasitic infection, or whatever the case may be’. And I find that a brilliant system really.
Dr. Bryan: But isn't that what a practitioner wants to do? I mean, the patients come in, and they want to know, ‘Well, where should I head first’? And detox questionnaire—and again, so everybody is exposed period, everybody's exposed. Everybody has some degree of storage. Now, I don't know how much. They might be really toxic. They might be cut. Who knows? But everybody has some degree of storage. The question is, then, is, ‘Are your symptoms—because of xenobiotic exposure—are in storage or not’?
And that's where these questionnaires come in handy. If you take a questionnaire like that, and I mean, because there's people out there, believe me, there's plenty of them. Everybody's toxic, everybody needs to detoxify. There's an old book called Detoxify or Die. I mean, if that's not scary enough. It’s a good book, but I mean, it's not necessary. So we all have exposure, it's we all have some degree of storage. The question is, when somebody is not feeling optimal, Is it because of that or not?
And so you can't run around screaming ‘everybody's toxic’ because I don't know that they are. But if you score high on one of those questionnaires, then that's the direction you'd want to look into. And if you score low, I mean, listen, people will still argue it, ‘Well. We're still all toxic’. I wouldn't go down that road. It wouldn't be the first thing that I’ll thought about.
Lisa: It’s not your first protocol
Dr. Bryan: Oh, no. The questionnaires... Absolutely.
Lisa: Yes, I think that's what I do as a practitioner too, as epigenetics practitioner, and a health coach, is go for the low hanging fruit first. Because we can go in 100 directions and I can confuse the hell out of my clients and they can be like, ‘what the hell am I doing’? But if you are going for the ones late tackle, best piece of the puzzle, and then work your way up the food chain is so to speak—and actually find out which ones are the most important.
Dr. Walsh, I mean—we're going to put the links in the show notes—you've developed your own detox system if you like, which I'm really keen to share with everybody and for them to check out. But let's go in now to the actual four phases of detox: zero, one, two, and three, and you have four, isn't it? In most people—or some people are at least aware of phase one and two detox within the cell. And when I first heard you talk about this, I was like, ‘Wow, okay, there’s a zero and there’s a three’. Okay, can you explain in a nutshell, what the body does when it gets a toxin? It's in the blood for some reason, it's gotten there. What actually happens next in these detox phases?
Dr. Bryan: All right, well just to make it really comprehensive. I'll tell you, when you said when it gets into the blood, what happens? So when it gets in the blood, it can be detoxified, biotransformed, and excreted. But the best way to describe this is, so if it's in the bloodstream, wish I have something to sort of model this with but so like, so the bloodstream, and then you have you have a cell next to the bloodstream. Now there's—in physiology, there's what's called a concentration gradient. And these membranes… And so let's say we have the bloodstream in a tube—I really wish I had some kind of props here. I’m looking around. I have—my son has a Santa hat, razor blade, I don't know, I don't have much around here. Anyhow, so you have the bloodstream and here you have a cell. Now, if there's more in the blood of this, whatever it is, and less in the cell, it will tend to go into the cell. And it's usually fat cells, because it's fat soluble, it will tend to go into adipocytes or fat cells.
And so it's concentration gradient based, which also means—so that's how it gets stored. If there's more in the blood and less in the cell, then it will tend to go into the cell. And that's when it gets stored. There's a really, really cool paper that discusses how adipocytes used to be considered to be just an energy repository, but then turned out to be an organ because they excrete over a hundred different things. But one of the additional roles they suggest is that it is this. It is to store toxins or xenobiotics, or things that could otherwise damage the body—they're fat soluble, which would make sense.
Now, if that's a concentration grid. Now let's say we're in a fasted state, and we haven't eaten anything and or exposure. If there's less in the blood, and more in the fat cell, then it will leak out. And it's based on a concentration grade, it's based on homeostasis. There’s some ridiculous stories out there that will say, ‘the body won't release toxins if it's not healthy enough, and it doesn't think it can deal with them’. That's not true. What I've seen is that it leaks out from a homeostasis for a concentration gradient if there's less than the blood and more in the cell. So we are constantly leaking this stuff into our blood, if it's stored. Now this gets amplified. And I talked about this in the course, during lipolysis. So in a fasted state, in a catabolic state—not even not even losing fat, but just in a catabolic state which we go through at night. So if you stop eating at 8pm and you're sleeping, you're in a catabolic state, for example.
If you're in a state of fasting, or lipolysis, then that's going to speed up mobilization. So now—and all the studies I've ever seen on mammals or humans show this. In a hypocaloric state, or fasted state levels of xenobiotics go up in your blood. And I'll say it again because that's huge. In a fasted state or a hypocaloric state, like dieting, then if there's stored xenobiotics, it will dump into the bloodstream, and those levels go up. And they always show that every single time because that's a state of lipolysis as a catabolic state.
So then now we're back in the blood. So whether it's at an immediate exposure, or it was just released, the rest of the story remains the same. So then what happens? And I should just say too, I mean, I get frustrated with pieces of the industry. There's some people that will say, ‘Well, it's not a detox if it's not a cellular detox. If you don't detox yourself, then you're not’... This happens at the cellular level, as all detoxes is a cellular detox. So what I'm about to describe next is the cell.
So let's say we have that xenobiotic it's floating around in the blood, we either just had exposure, or it came out of a fat cell. So in one of the cells, like the liver, the kidneys, the skin that we said has the ability to do this, there are four phases of detox. So if you picture just a cube, all I have is a mug, but I have a cube. Then there needs to be a door coming in and a door coming out, that's going to be two of the phases. And then once it's inside, there's two other things that are going to happen to this.
So here's our cell, we have a fat soluble compound—I'm looking around for some—we have a fat soluble.
Lisa: It’s like your room, isn’t it?
Dr. Bryan: Well, that's the way that's why I've said it before. So yes, I mean, you could just use it as that. So in the room that you're in, or even a car quite honestly would work. So if you're in a room, you’re the cell, that's the cell, let's just say it's a liver cell. So when the door opens, that's phase zero detoxification. That's an actual phase. It was recently discovered in the early 2000s. Most people haven't heard of it but it's legitimate, things can block this. So if that happens, then that's a problem, clearly. So phase zero is when the door opens and the fat soluble compound comes into your room, into where you were.
Lisa: Into the cell.
Dr. Bryan: Into the cell, right. And once it's there, it has to go through two phases of detox. And you said I use analogies—quite honestly, I kind of make them up on the fly.
Lisa: That’s awesome.
Dr. Bryan: Well, I mean, I don't even know what I said. But I think in the past, what I've said...
Lisa: It was an angry dude—a person—we make the person a toxin who’s just entered the room.
Dr. Bryan: Oh yes. All right. I make him up on the fly until now. So all right, yes, yes, I can go with that one. So you have the room, the room’s a cell, a person is on the outside of your room, they come in, that's phase zero. And that's all it is in the cell is just a little protein tube. So the person comes in, they're fat soluble person. And they're angry. So what did we say?
Lisa: You stick a sticky note on the head.
Dr. Bryan: Is that what I said?
Dr. Bryan: Let’s make them more mad. That's right. Okay. See, listen, I'm telling you make it up right then and there. All right, you're right. You're right. You're right.
So the person comes in, and they will damage your room. But to incite them and make them even more angry. Yes, that’s right. You put a little sticky note, like what was your little yellow sticky notes, and you put them on the forehead, that makes them really mad. Even more mad than they were in the first place. And now you can calm them down. But if you don't, they're going to start flipping over your desk, and just totally, totally worse than they were in the first place. They were angry when they came in. But now they're even angrier. But you can hand them a $100 bill. And they're going to say, ‘All right, I was angry but now I'm not anymore. I'm good. You just handed me something. So I'll go ahead and quietly leave the room now’. And then when they walk out another door of the room, then that would be phase three.
So to put that—and thanks for reminding me of my analogy. But biochemically speaking, so you have a fat soluble compound, like a phthalate or a dioxin, or whatever it might be. So it literally has to get in the cell in the first place. Now, researchers used to think it was a fat-soluble membrane, fat soluble compound, and would just go right in. And that's not the case. It needs a channel in order to bring it in. That's phase zero, literally it is phase zero. And why is it phase zero? It was because they discovered this after they already knew about phase one and phase two, but they didn't have any numbers before then and they didn't even know it existed. So in the early 2000s, they said, ‘Well, we'll name it phase zero’. So that's the entry of a fat-soluble toxin, let's just say into hepatocyte, liver cell.
Phase one: reactions. There's a few different kinds. They’re like oxidation reduction type of thing, hydrolysis. Basically, what happens is that when in the sticky note what it had on it, it had an OH, hydroxyl group. So you put a hydroxyl group on this person, or you exposed a hydroxyl group that was already present but wasn't fully exposed. Now the problem is after we put that sticky note on their forehead, and they got even more angry is that toxin beforehand could cause damage to the body. It could cause oxidative stress or DNA damage or endocrine disruption or citric acid cycle, mitochondria, whatever was unique to that particular toxin. But now that it has OH exposed or added on to it via phase one, it is water soluble, first of all. It's water soluble, which is cool. Now your body can get rid of it. However, it's considered to be an intermediate metabolite, and is considered to be more damaging than the original xenobiotic.
Now, it's not true of every single time. And that's the thing, there are too many of these compounds to make blanket statements. People will say it's more toxic. No, it's not. It may be more damaging—I'm not going to say more toxic. It may cause more damage now that it's water soluble with this hydroxyl group exposed. But then phase two, when you handle this angry—now really angry person, a $100 bill US dollars. I wouldn't let you guys—you hand them a $100 bill or a bunch of money, they're not angry anymore. They're still water-soluble, they were but now phase two is considered a conjugation reaction and conjugation is adding something to it.
And so people that are familiar with phase two are familiar with things like methylation or sulphation, or glucuronidation, or amino acid conjugation, any of those things but what gets handed is this: so sulfation, you hand them a sulphur group, methylation, it hands them a methyl group, amino acid conjugation, it's usually glycine, glycine will go, glutathione conjugations glutathione, so acetylation and acetyl groups. So the xenobiotic gets handed to it, what's unique to that particular one, if that makes sense. You can make it really easy to talk about hormones like sex hormones, go through the same pathway—the testosterone, the estrogen. They go through the same pathway.
Lisa: They do, and neurotransmitters as well.
Dr. Bryan: Yes, cytokines, immunoglobulin, antibodies
Lisa: And dopamine and all of that?
Dr. Bryan: Yes, by and large, by and large, yes. So then it gets phased two. It gets something handed to. Let's say, it gets a sulphur group and went through sulfation. Now, it's no longer damaging to the body. Now it's relatively benign. It was damaging as its original compound. It came in through phase zero, it was made potentially more damaging by exposing or adding on a hydroxyl group, depending on what the compound was, and depending on the biochemical pathway went through, but then when it gets conjugated, it's still water soluble, but now it's not damaging. And can there—if phase three, that second door is open, can go out of the door.
Now remember, so all that does—and this is a really important part—there's a lot of misunderstandings of what phase three is. Phase three is merely a tube, leaving that cell, which means that, this thing now, in terms of physiology goes into the interstitial fluid surrounding cells.
Lisa: And it’s water-soluble at this point.
Dr. Bryan: It’s water-soluble in the interstitial fluid, and can be excreted in sweat. It can go through the lymphatic system, which is going to pick up some of the junk of the interstitial fluid but that just dumps itself in the bloodstream anyways, which that means it'll probably end up in the kidneys and get excreted out in urine. But a lot of this can end up going in—since it happens in the liver, the liver will get rid of its these...
Dr. Bryan: ...through bile because the route from the liver to the intestines is via bile.
Lisa: Why is this not phase four, then? Like phase three should be the thing leaving the cell.
Dr. Bryan: It is, that's phase three.
Lisa: Phase four should be like actually the excretion method.
Dr. Bryan: You can call it phase—or at some point, you're going to have too many phases. You’ll be like, the 10 phases of detox. It will just confuse everybody. But after it leaves the cell, the most critical piece is excretion. And I mean, we're not talking about this part yet but I'll just say, the three pieces, there's four phases to detox. But the three things that must happen for somebody to actually detoxify, and I say must with a capital MUST, is one is they have to be mobilized. You have to get them out of the storage in first place. Two is you have to go through biotransformation, which is the phase zero, one, two, and three. The third part is they have to be excluded. If they're not excreted—and this is a really important part—if it's not excreted, it can go into another cell. That conjugation reaction that can get undone, there are enzymes that will undo that conjugation. So you handed this sulphur...
Lisa: You’re backing in the shot again basically.
Dr. Bryan: Well, and then it becomes this damaging thing again, and can get stored in another tissue if it doesn't get excreted, which, incidentally, is why I have a major problem with most fasting programmes. Honestly, most weight loss programmes in sedentary people. I mean, if you take a fitness competitor...
Lisa: An athlete’s all right, they're going to sweat it out.
Dr. Bryan: They'll probably be okay. But if you take somebody who has just been storing their whole life, they've never really exercised, they get to be 45 years old. They wear a certain weight during their wedding. Now, they're 45, they don't feel sexy anymore. Maybe it's a good time to do a real weight loss programme, the chances of them flooding their system with these things is tremendous. And if there is not an active role in, especially that's the mobilization, that's the first part.
But to properly detoxify these, and more importantly, excrete these things, then it's just going to go somewhere else. And I will say there's some evidence. It's weak evidence, unfortunately, there's not a lot of research on this, but midlife weight loss might be associated with an increased risk of things like dementia and certain chronic diseases.
Lisa: I want to sit on this topic a little bit and dive into, because I had some questions when I started to understand this whole process, it really rang some alarm bells for me. For people who do like yo-yo dieting, they're losing weight, they're gaining it, they're losing weight, they're gaining it. They're actually doing a lot of damage than somebody who's just lost it. Another thing is if you're losing it slowly over time as compared to just dumping it all because you've done a juice fast that someone told you was a fantastic detox. And then you've dumped all this into the system. And this can have impacts years later, like we just mentioned, like dementia, Parkinson's disease, all of these things.
Because I was listening to one of your biochemistry or blood chemistry lectures, I can't remember which one, something to do with cardiovascular system. And you were talking about the triglyceride molecule, or whatever you call it. And how—if the legs are broken off—it’s free fatty acids get into the system and then this can clog up the system, cause insulin resistance, be a contributing factor to diabetes, all of these things. And I was like, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. So, when I'm losing weight, which I think is a good thing for my body, I'm actually also doing some damaging things because I'm releasing these toxins or these free fatty acids or, or things that are actually causing trouble’.
So when we have a detox programme that's in the latest magazine, and even some of the scientific like Dr. Valter Longo’s Fasting Mimicking Diets, which is a great—lot of research gone into it, but it's looking at the mobilization, the autophagy, the mitophagy, all of these good pieces of the puzzle, but it hasn't actually considered the excretion. It does look at the micronutrients required for phase one and two, which is fantastic.
So you've got three pillars here that you're talking about. First is mobilization, of the fats or the toxins into the bloodstream from stored places, like your fat cells. Then we've got phase one and two, where it's processed, the detox—actual detox situation. And for that, we need a whole lot of micronutrients, which I want to touch on briefly like using your selenium and your B vitamins and goodness knows what. If you don't have those—your sulphur groups. If you don't have those, you're going to have trouble. And then we need to look at how do we get this stuff out. So what can we do to support the body to do binders or I don't know what the sweating protocols or saunas or whatever?
I had one question that for me personally, I've got a mum that had a massive aneurysm four years ago, and my listeners know about my story. I've just written a book about her journey back for massive brain damage. Now she's lost 30 something kilos over this last four and a half years, when I have been rehabilitating her. She does not sweat. And she's 79 years old, she's never really sweated. She doesn't do that very well, naturally. And she also now at 79, can't exercise intensively enough to sweat. I can't put her in a sauna because here temperature regulation has gone with her brain function. I have to be really, really careful, then if I make you lose any more weight, don't I? With brain damage...
Dr. Bryan: Well, it’s a hard thing to say for sure. I mean, first of all, with all that weight loss already—I don't want to say the damages—you have no idea.
Lisa: Yes, so hopefully it was not a big dump.
Dr. Bryan: Yes, so there are some interesting human studies, looking at slow versus more rapid weight loss and how much xenobiotic levels go up, and how it affects thyroid hormone, and the basal metabolic rate and all these different things to which is their recommendation is to do slower detox, but like I said, I would recommend how about, I mean start a weight loss, I would support doing detoxification pathways while you're doing the weight loss programme so that you can get rid of these things better, and it doesn't cause damage.
Yes, so in terms of yo-yo dieting, again everybody's a little different. I can't say this happens to everyone. It depends on your diet, your lifestyle, where you live, and how much you've accumulated. I mean, some people don't have a whole lot, I would suspect. But yes, so there in fact, there is at least one study that comes to mind using mice and yo-yo dieting. And what basically it showed with them is that during periods of weight loss or catabolism, that their xenobiotic levels would go up. And then when they stopped in the hypocaloric state, they went back into a more of a hyper caloric state, that the xenobiotics that weren't excreted went somewhere else. And when I mean somewhere else, like a different tissue, so it absolutely can go from one tissue. Absolutely. Absolutely.
In fact, I wanted to tell you this. Anecdotally, I just talked to a guy—I don't know about a month ago—who used to work at a water fast detox clinic in Thailand. And he worked there for a really long time. And he's said that their people would fly to Thailand to go to this water fast detox clinic that had no business to do so. They were not healthy, it's more of a novelty. Like, ‘hey, let's go to Thailand and go to the water fast place for two weeks and do a detox, then we'll go back and live our life normally like we did before, eating a bunch of garbage’. And he said, they had no business doing it, but they would come back once or twice a year. And the same people he said would get worse, that I mean, and horrible, like liver problems or teeth were falling out, and just wrecking them. And it was fascinating to hear that story. He didn't know why.
Lisa: Yes, and I can guess why.
Dr. Bryan: Well, that's what I mean is to actually have real world experience, possibly. There's no proof of this, but to see these people that would do a one week, two weeks supervised water fast and then come live their life and then come back, and their health was worse. And I think if I had to bet I would say that's probably why. And consider, it's just a water fast. So what were they not doing, is they weren't exceeding, they weren't sweating. They didn't take any binders. They weren't doing anything. All they were doing is just water. And so, to me, they were flooding their system in a very—almost completely fasted state except for water, which is essentially fasting. Flooding their system, potentially with xenobiotics, not excreting them all and then reabsorbing them, putting them in different tissues.
Lisa: Re-depositing them in your brain or something. So you could shift the mercury molecule, for example, from your fat cell where it was pretty safe. Put it into your blood and then it get redeposited in your brain and cause real strife.
Dr. Bryan: And he hasn't contacted me yet. I think he will probably be angry. But Dr. Longo you mentioned, I mean, the guy's brilliant. He's brilliant, he’s great.
Lisa: Oh, yes, no doubt.
Dr. Bryan: And it's super, super cool what he's doing, that's a huge concern that I have, though: is that you take an average person and you put them on what's essentially like, what 300 to 500 calorie diet for a period of time, and if you don't support the biochemical—so that's mobilization for sure. If you don't support the second part, which is detoxification pathways, and then the third pick is excretion, then you're potentially making them worse longer. And again, who cares about autophagy and mitophagy if you're just redistributing these xenobiotics somewhere? And it’s a huge concern. It's a legitimate one. And I’m not saying what he's done is bad, I just think it's a piece that is missing.
Lisa: A discussion needs to be had around this.
Dr. Bryan: Yes, well, and that's true of... So, take the Gwyneth Paltrow juice test. It's the same thing. You're not binding or excreting anything. You're hypocaloric, yes. Are you improving detoxification? Well, not if you have things like celery and carrots because those might actually inhibit as it turns out. So you're not detoxing. So you're mobilizing, not detoxifying and not excreting—that's bad news, I think, long term.
Lisa: Well, let's look—talk about a couple other things that are in the phase one and two, in phase three, actually, more specifically. Some of the compounds that we consider great compounds for a lot of things, like you mentioned celery and carrots. I mean, that's what people juice with. I mean, I know I just had a celery juice for breakfast. I'm not into detox, but celery in itself is not a bad thing. But it can be a mild phase three. I believe inhibitor is in curcumin, milk thistle, some of these things that we consider detox herbs, if you like, and especially in supplement doses versus food doses can actually have the opposite of fate. Can you go into just a little bit of that, what nutrients support phase one and two and three, and which one's actually inhibited? And why is it counter-intuitive?
Dr. Bryan: Well, the counter intuitiveness of it has to do with the dose, turns out. So well, and again, I mean, as humans, good lord, we've been wrong far more times than we've been right. I mean, as a husband, I can tell you, that's true. And father, it's like a daily basis. But so what we did with milk thistle was we say, milk thistle is good for liver liver detox is there for milk thistle is good for detox. And that's not true. And that's fine. I mean, that logical progression of thought makes sense, but it's not how it pans out. So it's dose related.
So, phase one. There's a lot of talk about phase one out there. Phase one are very basic, rudimentary biochemical processes. Oxidation reduction hydrolysis, if those suck in a person, detox is not your problem. They get highlighted a lot—phase one pathways. But in the end, people will say technically you need some B vitamins for this, but you need B vitamins to run most of the basic biochemical processes in the first place. So, honestly, phase one is not a phase I worry about too much in people. As long as they're nutrient sufficient, which basically means taking a good quality multi, they're probably—and I say big probably—they're probably fine with phase one. There are things incidentally, like some of those vegetables that you mentioned.
So this is where it gets crazy. In high doses, things like celery or apples or carrots can inhibit phase one a little bit. And it's dose dependent. And so it's in the concentrated form. Well, what's concentrated form?
Dr. Bryan: If you juice a whole bunch of carrots and apples, yes. I mean, most people will juice more than they would eat the raw fruit or vegetable. So you might juice five or six celery sticks, three carrots, two apples, and, I don’t know, spinach, Well, turns out that all those things will probably inhibit phase one in that concentrated amount. There's nothing wrong with the fruit or the vegetable eating raw. And I will say there's nothing wrong with it, juicing it either but it's all context. I'll get to phase three in a second.
Phase two. Again, these are very basic biochemical pathways that if you can't run them properly, you have bigger problems than just detoxifying. Phase Two are very amino acid driven. So amino acids make glutathione, for example. So you need amino acids just for glutathione, you need the amino acids for the amino acid conjugation pathway. Things like acetylation, you need acetyl groups, those are pretty easy to come by in the body—sulfation, methylation. So you need certain nutrients, usually, amino acids do a pretty good job supporting that.
And problem comes in phase three. So if you consider that analogy of we use the angry guy. So if you want to get rid of the angry guy out of the body, you need to have door zero, and door three wide open. So like I mean, if you consider just like—let's say you have a line of angry people outside, all you need is a sticky note and $100 note to be able to shuffle them through, right? The problem or in the body has a fair bit of sticky notes and $100 notes, not everybody, but as long as they have sufficient micronutrients like vitamins and minerals, and as long as they're sufficient in amino acids, which again, not everybody is, they’re probably okay.
Now, again, it's going to vary with people a little bit. But you need to have those doors open. And the problem really arises, and think about this, where—this is putting our whole story that we've talked about together. If that, if the exit door is closed, you can undo. You can essentially take that $100 note back, and now, it's super angry and super angry again. And so if that third, or I'm sorry, the third phase or that exit door is closed, that's where problems arise.
And so this is where it gets super interesting to me, super interesting. Curcumin, milk thistle, green tea extract, those are extremely potent phase three inhibitors. They close that exit door. And when people question me on this, well I'll show them the papers. But I'll say, ‘Look into the literature’. Because in conventional—and this is what I say Western medicine is brilliant and thank God, they do what they do, because we're learning about things that we need to use for ourselves.
So in cancer therapy, Western medicine is trying to find out how you can keep a chemotherapeutic drug inside of a cell longer, so it can interact with cancer better. And so in medicine, they talk about these pathways, because they don't want these pathways to work because then you need a higher dose. These chemotherapeutic drugs, they don't want them to exit the body. They want them in the body, so they can act against the cancer. And so you know what researchers are using to block that phase three in cancer treatments is milk thistle, and curcumin, and they're even using green tea extract and some of those types of things. They're using those in doses that people would take as a means of keeping the chemotherapeutic drug inside of the cell longer by blocking phase three.
Lisa: So this is all about context, isn’t it, Doctor Walsh?
Dr. Walsh: It’s totally context.
Lisa: We're not saying green tea is bad for you. We're saying if you were doing a detox and you're mobilizing all these toxins, don't take green tea at that time, or curcumin, or milk thistle at that time. If you're trying to do something good in the cell, go for it.
Dr. Bryan: Well, so milk thistle, I think—and I don't have a list of 10—deserves to be on a top 10 list of herbs. Milk thistle is amazing at what it does. It's so broad and all of its mechanisms. It is truly, truly an amazing botanical.
It turns out, and one of its big roles as people know is it's hepatoprotective. I mean, it can regenerate the liver. But it turns out the reason why, and this is where it really gets cool, the reason why it's so darn hepatoprotective is it blocks its own exit out of the cell. So why can milk thistle be so awesome for liver cell, because it blocks phase three, allowing you to do its other stuff to do inside of the cell longer. So that's why it's so great as a liver herb. It's horrible as a detox herb though, because it blocks phase three. And if you don't let that angry guy out, you're going to take your $100 note back and he's going to be even more angry again.
Lisa: So we need to know what you’re after, what you wanted.
Dr. Bryan: Well, one thing and understand this too. So I came at all this research in the same—where everybody else did. I was, my mind was blown by this. My eyes were open and I thought ‘Holy cow’. And just to give you an example. Well, I'll just make my statement, and then I'll tell you why. Unless proven otherwise, I think most botanicals, most herbs, most stuff don't have a place in the detox programme because people truly don't know what its effects are.
Now I'll qualify what I just said. You can take any nutrient like quercetin been studied with, there's a bunch that have been studied. And here's the problem when it comes to detox, is the same compound like quercetin will increase detoxification in one tissue of the body, like the kidneys. It will decrease detoxification enzymes in another tissue of the body, and I'm making this up, like the liver, and it will have no change on the exact same enzymes, exact same enzymes, same quercetin, same dose, different tissue or cell will have a different effect on the same enzymes.
So what that means is so you can say well, is quercetin a detoxifier or not? You say, well, I don't know because it does in one cell it inhibits at another cell, there's no change in the third. Listen, if someone wants to use quercetin, go for it. But in what I've read, in my understanding of this until proven otherwise, I don't think quercetin deserves a place in the detox programme. And I don't care who says what or shows what, when you look at the dearth of studies in that one area on quercetin, you end up like I have no idea of what a quercetin is, does it detoxify or not? I have no idea.
Lisa: So it's analytic, isn’t it?