Did you know that curcumin inhibits phase 1 detoxification? (1) Now what exactly does this mean in terms of optimal guidelines on how to take curcumin?
Well, let’s start from the beginning. There are two major detoxification pathways inside the liver cells, which are called the Phase 1 and Phase 2 detoxification pathways. Phase 1 detox pathway neutralizes some toxins while converting others to forms that can then be processed by Phase 2.
If Phase 2 detox is slow due to certain drugs, genetic factors or nutrient deficiency then these intermediary forms can build up and cause damage in your body.
Genetic factors can include a mutation in the MTHFR gene, which affects approx. 40% of us, making those of us with this gene mutation more vulnerable to toxic buildup.
MTHFR is a gene that provides the body with instructions for making a certain enzyme called methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR). When you eat foods that contain folic acid, MTHFR converts it into methyl-folate (folate’s active form). Methyl-folate is needed for methylation, which helps to optimize a huge number of processes in your body including DNA production, metabolism of hormones, and proper detoxification.
To support genetic mutation in MTHFR and optimal Phase 2 detox is rather simple: eat foods that are rich in:
5-MTHF (active folate) methylcobalamin (active vitamin B12), pyridoxal 5'-phosphate (active vitamin B6), riboflavin 5'-phosphate (active vitamin B2), magnesium, zinc, cysteine, taurine and sulphur. This basically translates into a diet rich in chicken, poultry, lamb, cruciferous vegetables and onion-family.
This also means that it is pretty difficult to optimize methylation and optimal detoxification on a strict vegan diet.
If there is not sufficient zinc, cysteine and taurine, detox is not going to happen. But also, if the liver is overburdened with fat and red meat, detox is also not going to happen. So no, it is not a green card to go load up on steak and bacon camouflaging it is a “health trend” and calling it keto. Nope, that’s not it either. Ideally we would have soil that was rich in these minerals, and thus making plants a source of all the nutrients we need, but our soil is severely depleted and it is very difficult to get the aminos we need from strict veganism, so at least eat som fish and poultry every now and then - or get tested and see for yourself, if your diet is suffice for your body’s needs.
Anyway, by eating curcumin we inhibit phase 1 detox, which might be a good idea in certain instances, where we have not yet optimized phase 2 detoxification and thus do not want a buildup of toxic intermediaries hanging around especially during chemotherapy (2).
However, once phase 2 has been optimized, we want to take curcumin intermittently only to benefit from its effect on phase 2 detoxification, where it optimizes glutathione production. By avoiding taking curcumin every day we shy away from its effect of inhibiting phase 1 detoxification and thereby slowing down overall ability to detox, if following a program geared at ridding the body of toxins.
This means ideally you only want to take curcumin every other day in most cases.
Front Pharmacol. 2018; 9: 554. Dual Role of Dietary Curcumin Through Attenuating AFB1-Induced Oxidative Stress and Liver Injury via Modulating Liver Phase-I and Phase-II Enzymes Involved in AFB1 Bioactivation and Detoxification. Ishfaq Muhammad et al.