Oranges And Detoxification

  • Linda NkrumahBiological Sciences with International Year, University of Birmingham, UK
  • Humna Maryam IkramBS, Pharmacology, University of Dundee, Scotland, UK

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Detoxification, also known as detoxication or detox, is the physiological or therapeutic removal of poisonous compounds from the blood of a living entity, including the human body. The liver is primarily responsible for this process. The kidneys, lungs, skin, colon and lymphatic system are also involved in this detoxification process. Detoxification can be achieved with the use of medicines, the body self-detox or the use of alternative medicine such as diet.

Examples of detoxification 

  • Alcohol detox - this involves the removal of alcohol from the body
  • Drug detoxification is the safe and gradual removal of drugs from the body. This is the first step of addiction withdrawal 
  • Metabolic waste detoxification - the harmful substances (also called metabolic waste) secreted by the body during metabolic processes are removed
  • Detox diet - the inclusion of certain vegetables, fruits, seeds and more stimulates detoxification. For example, antioxidant-rich diets can reduce the risk of damage caused by free radicals created by metabolism and exposure to pollutants. While certain plant chemicals might boost the liver's detoxification enzymes and foods high in fibre can bind to toxins in the gut and aid in their evacuation

Detoxification through alternative medicine or diet It's not about 'flushing out' your system; rather, it's about nourishing your body's natural detoxification pathways, by stimulating the liver enzymes.

Oranges and detoxification 

Oranges among many other fruits have been useful in alternative detoxification diets. Oranges belong to a class of fruits called citrus which are rich sources of antioxidants such as ascorbic acid, carotenoids; tocopherol and phenolic compounds.1

Many "detoxification" diets, plans, and treatments—also referred to as "detoxes" or "cleanses"—have been proposed as methods to rid the body of toxins, reduce weight, or improve health.

The partnership between oranges and detoxification

Detox diets and cleanses support the body's natural detoxification processes which is key to optimal detoxification. Oranges, a citrus fruit famous for its delicious sweetness and abundant vitamin C, are crucial to this procedure.2 Listed below are the reasons:

1.) Oranges are known for having high levels of vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants fight free radicals and prevent the buildup of toxins by disrupting chemicals that can harm cells in the body. This makes antioxidants a crucial key to the detoxification process. Vitamin C supports the liver and kidneys in their detoxification processes by aiding in the neutralisation of toxic chemicals.

2.) Oranges' high water content helps with digestion and hydration, two important aspects of detoxification. Drinking enough water helps the kidneys flush toxins and keep our body’s fluids in check.

3.) Oranges are primarily made of water, which promotes hydration, a critical step in the detoxification process. Being well-hydrated helps remove toxins when kidneys produce urine or when you perspire. Orange fibre also supports a healthy digestive system by controlling bowel movements and avoiding constipation, which can impede the removal of waste and pollutants. Fibres also regulate cholesterol levels in the body, thereby assisting the liver in cholesterol metabolism. 

4.) Oranges contain hesperidin, a flavonoid found in oranges which has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. This may enhance the liver's detoxification processes and shield it from oxidative stress. Antioxidants are also essential in protecting the kidneys from oxidative stress. The liver is a key organ in the metabolism and detoxification of a wide range of substances, including alcohol, drugs, and environmental pollutants.

5.) Naringenin, a flavonoid found in oranges, has been studied to improve liver health. It enhances the liver's ability to metabolise fat and reduce the risk of fatty liver disease.

6.) Despite their acidic flavour, oranges have alkalizing properties that benefit the body because excess acids are neutralised and the normal operation of the detoxifying enzymes is encouraged, an alkaline environment can aid in detoxification.

The importance of detoxification

The detox process results in a multitude of benefits for the human body:3

  • Elimination of toxins such as drugs, metabolic waste, alcohol, and environmental pollutants
  • Maintainance of optimal organ and body function
  • Support of absorption of nutrients and healthy digestion by removing blockages in the digestive tract
  • Enhanced immune response 
  • Enhanced defence against infections and diseases
  • Increased energy and vitality
  • release of stored toxins and 
  • Promotion of weight loss and resetting of eating habits
  • Reduction of toxin burden on the skin resulting in healthier skin (improvement of skin issues like acne and eczema)
  • Improved mental and emotional well-being, reduced brain fog, improved cognitive function and mood
  • Reduction in risk of development of diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer

The human body undergoes a natural, ongoing process of detoxification to get rid of waste and potentially hazardous chemicals. It involves the removal of toxins, both internal (metabolic waste) and external (environmental pollutants, chemicals, drugs, etc.), to maintain overall health and well-being. This process occurs primarily through various organs and systems in the body, with the liver and kidneys playing central roles.

Role of the liver and kidneys

Liver

The liver is often referred to as the body's primary detoxification organ. It performs several crucial functions in detoxification, including:4

  • Metabolism: the liver processes and breaks down toxins and drugs into less harmful or more easily excreted forms
  • Neutralisation: it neutralises and eliminates harmful substances through chemical transformations. For example, it converts fat-soluble toxins into water-soluble forms that can be excreted as urine
  • Production of enzymes: the liver produces enzymes that facilitate various detoxification reactions
  • Storage and release: the liver stores certain nutrients and toxins, releasing them as needed

Kidneys 

The kidneys are essential for filtering blood and getting rid of waste and foreign chemicals. Important processes involved in detoxification include:5

  • Filtration: blood is continuously filtered in the kidneys to get rid of pollutants, extra minerals, and waste products
  • Reabsorption and secretion: the kidneys secrete urine while excreting waste and poisons. They selectively reabsorb vital elements
  • Acid-base balance: by eliminating extra acids and controlling the blood's pH, the kidneys assist in preserving the body's acid-base balance

Role of oranges in kidney function 

Several of the characteristics of oranges allow them to be perfect partners for our kidneys:5

  1. The high water content of oranges ensures that our bodies are well hydrated. This helps the kidney in the process of filtration and excretion of waste 
  2. The high fibre concentration helps our bodies regulate blood sugar levels and reduces the risk of diabetes, a condition that affects kidney health when not managed
  3. The citric acid of oranges helps prevent the formation of kidney stones by binding to calcium in the urine. This prevents the formation of calcium oxalate crystals which are common types of kidney stones
  4. The high ascorbic acid concentration serves as antioxidants which help protect the kidneys from oxidative stress and inflammation

How does detoxification help eliminate toxins?

The detoxification process in the liver consists of two phases:

Phase I of the process converts fat-soluble toxins into more excretable versions that are more water-soluble.

Phase II occurs when the water-soluble toxins are coupled with compounds that aid in their 

excretion which occurs easily.3

This is only one example of what enables the elimination of toxins. Several other processes are involved:

  1. Bile production: to help with the breakdown and absorption of fats, bile produced by the liver is released into the small intestine after being stored in the gallbladder. Additionally, bile transports waste and extra cholesterol out of the body
  2. Kidney filtration: waste, poisons, and excess substances from the blood are filtered through the kidney. The filtered blood is then expelled as urine. This procedure is effective at getting rid of water-soluble toxins that the liver has converted
  3. Respiration and sweating: detoxification extends beyond the liver and kidneys. The removal of pollutants also involves the skin and lungs. Through the skin, sweating aids in the elimination of certain toxins, while breathing eliminates gases and volatile organic molecules
  4. Digestive system: by removing waste and processing it, the digestive system aids in detoxification. Dietary fibre promotes regular bowel movements and reduces the reabsorption of toxins from the colon

Hydration is important for detoxification because it maintains kidney function and aids in the removal of toxins from the body through urine. 

Orange detox diets

Orange detox diets are a type of detoxification regimen that primarily revolves around the consumption of oranges and orange-based products as a means of cleansing the body. These diets typically involve consuming oranges, drinking freshly squeezed orange juice, and sometimes incorporating other citrus fruits. The idea is to harness the nutritional benefits of oranges, such as vitamin C, antioxidants, and hydration, to support the body's natural detoxification processes.6

Healthy detox tips 

Although there are numerous advantages to an orange detox, care must be taken when starting one. For example, the overconsumption of oranges, that is citrus, can lead to digestive discomfort for some individuals, including heartburn or acid reflux.6 

A diet consisting mostly of oranges and orange-based products may result in the restriction of calories and lack of access to essential nutrients which is harmful to your health. So here are a couple of useful tips: 

  • Opt for balanced detox plans that include a variety of nutrient-rich foods
  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day to support detoxification
  • Monitor for any allergic reactions to citrus fruits, including oranges (especially if planning on if you decide to consume large quantities)
  • If you experience adverse effects, such as weakness, dizziness, extreme hunger, or digestive issues, stop the diet immediately and seek professional guidance

FAQ's

Does eating oranges pose any risks?

Except for those who are allergic to citrus fruits, orange intake is generally safe. Additionally, some individuals may develop GERD or acid reflux disease as a result of excessive use. It is advised to take oranges in moderation if you have GERD.7

What is the best time to eat oranges?

Oranges can be consumed whenever it is most convenient for your dietary needs and preferences. However, some people choose to drink them first thing in the morning in order to hydrate themselves and start the day with a dosage of vitamin C.1

Can I eat oranges on an empty stomach?

Oranges can be consumed without food, which may aid in the absorption of some nutrients like vitamin C. Oranges are a healthy snack choice since, according to some people, eating them before a meal can help reduce hunger. Citrus fruits should, however, be consumed with a meal or as a snack along with other meals if you have a sensitive stomach or experience discomfort when doing so.4

What are the benefits of eating oranges?

Oranges are a great source of vitamin C, which is necessary for the immune system, healthy skin, wound healing and promotion of healthy skin. Oranges are also rich in antioxidants, which fight free radicals and shield cells from harm, potentially lowering the chance of developing chronic diseases (antioxidants also promote healthier skin).2 

Oranges are a rich source of dietary fibre and have high water content. Their fibre content helps to maintain a healthy digestive system and regular bowel movements. It also reduces cholesterol levels and provides a sense of fullness. While, their water content ensures that the body is well hydrated, which is crucial for overall health and body functioning. Oranges also include substances like beta-carotene and lutein, which are beneficial for eye health.2

What methods can speed up the detoxification process?

  • Incorporate oranges and other citrus fruits as part of a balanced diet
  • Stay hydrated 
  • Maintain a balanced diet full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins; avoid consuming too much sugar, fat, or processed food
  • Limit alcohol intake
  • Regular physical activity will aid in optimal metabolism

Summary

Oranges have many advantages that help the body's natural detoxification processes, therefore they and detoxification go hand in hand. For example, they are a great source of antioxidants and vitamin C, which fight free radicals and protect the liver from oxidative stress. They also have high water content which helps keep our bodies hydrated during the detoxification process.

Oranges can be eaten whole, in salads, or as freshly squeezed juice as part of a cleansing diet. However, care must be taken when undertaking extreme orange-based detox diets and professional advice should be sought in case of doubts. To achieve a good detox using oranges, a starting point could be the inclusion of a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice early in the morning.

References

  1. Yang TY, Huang WT, Zhang J, Yang LT, Huang ZR, Wu BS, et al. Raised pH conferred the ability to maintain a balance between production and detoxification of reactive oxygen species and methylglyoxal in aluminum-toxic Citrus sinensis leaves and roots. Environmental Pollution [Internet]. 2021 Jan [cited 2024 Apr 9];268:115676. Available from: https://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S026974912036365X
  2. Grosso G, Galvano F, Mistretta A, Marventano S, Nolfo F, Calabrese G, et al. Red orange: experimental models and epidemiological evidence of its benefits on human health. Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity [Internet]. 2013 [cited 2024 Apr 9];2013:1–11. Available from: http://www.hindawi.com/journals/omcl/2013/157240/
  3. Saini RK, Ranjit A, Sharma K, Prasad P, Shang X, Gowda KGM, et al. Bioactive compounds of citrus fruits: a review of composition and health benefits of carotenoids, flavonoids, limonoids, and terpenes. Antioxidants [Internet]. 2022 Feb [cited 2024 Apr 9];11(2):239. Available from: https://www.mdpi.com/2076-3921/11/2/239
  4. Lv X, Zhao S, Ning Z, Zeng H, Shu Y, Tao O, et al. Citrus fruits as a treasure trove of active natural metabolites that potentially provide benefits for human health. Chemistry Central Journal [Internet]. 2015 Dec [cited 2024 Apr 9];9(1):68. Available from: https://bmcchem.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13065-015-0145-9
  5. Adenaike O, Abakpa GO. Antioxidant compounds and health benefits of citrus fruits. EJNFS [Internet]. 2021 Mar 18 [cited 2024 Apr 9];65–74. Available from: https://journalejnfs.com/index.php/EJNFS/article/view/728
  6. Hussain SZ, Naseer B, Qadri T, Fatima T, Bhat TA. Citrus fruits—morphology, taxonomy, composition and health benefits. In: Fruits Grown in Highland Regions of the Himalayas [Internet]. Cham: Springer International Publishing; 2021 [cited 2024 Apr 9]. p. 229–44. Available from: https://link.springer.com/10.1007/978-3-030-75502-7_18

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B. Pharm. Madonna University

Ihuman is a seasoned pharmacist with years of experience spanning community pharmacy, hospitals, and public health sectors. She is dedicated to improving healthcare outcomes and wellbeing supported by her depth of knowledge in these fields. She specializes in unraveling complex medical concepts and making health information simple, drawing on her strong pharmaceutical background. Her commitment to accessibility and health makes her a reliable resource for readers looking for insightful information on medicine, healthcare, and general wellbeing.

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