DETOX NUTRITION FOR ATHLETES
All of these aforementioned pathways are supported by the nutrients taken in from our diet. Phase I requires vitamin A, several B-vitamins, glutathione, branch chain amino acids (BCAAs), flavonoids (plant nutrition) and phospholipids (structural fats).
Phase II requires the chemical groups that the six pathways are named after: these can be summarised into amino acids, sulphur groups (e.g. from sulphurous amino acids, onions and garlic), methyl groups (B-vitamins, folic acid and betaine), glutathione (an antioxidant that requires separate mention) and acetyl Co-A. Additionally, cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage, fish oils and citrus peel can be extremely beneficial.
Antioxidants deserve a special mention. As noted, athletes are exposed to greater degrees of oxidative stress than the general population and therefore require increased antioxidant support. Additionally, as we have seen, it is very important to have your antioxidants well resourced to support the transitory phase between detox Phases I and II.
The body will naturally up-regulate its own production of antioxidant enzymes, the most important of which is glutathione. However, the raw material is needed from your diet to make these antioxidants. Glutathione is a tripeptide, i.e. it is made up of three amino acids: glutamine, glycine and sulphur-containing cysteine.8 Our old friend glutamine is found in every sports nutrition range. I mentioned in the Digestive Health edition of FSN that it supports the gut, immune and musculoskeletal systems. As you can see, since it is part of glutathione, it is also vital in the whole-body antioxidant system and liver detox health.
In general, a well-rounded dietary protein intake is important to provide a broad spectrum of all essential amino acids. In addition to the enzyme antioxidants systems, antioxidants that you should include in your diet include vitamins A, C and E, betacarotene from orange food, lycopene from tomatoes, catechins from green tea and salvesterols from red wine.