HEALTHY BITE | Detoxification, Methylation, Supplements : A Brief Explanation

This week we spoke to Dr Christabelle Yeoh and it bought up several questions about detoxification, methylation and supplements. Tune in for a brief explanation and why it's important for you.

Detoxification, Methylation, Supplements: A Brief Explanation

This week, we have spoken to a good friend of mine, a great physician, Dr Christabelle Yeoh, who is the director of Gen Biome, an integrated medical practice medical center in the eastern suburbs of Sydney.

She talks about quite a few things and mentions a few different terms, which I thought I would just touch on to kind of flesh them out a little bit. One of the words that come up is detoxification and a lot of people kind of dismiss detoxification as a little bit of a new age or alternative concept, but it’s actually something that goes on in the body all the time. It’s why we have a liver. It’s why we have a kidney. They detoxify toxins that we bring into our bodies. And in our world, there are plenty of those.

We are, as you may have heard on this podcast at various times, exposed to literally tens of thousands of chemicals on a daily basis. And that is not just in the air and the water, but in household products, in personal care products, in foods, in clothes and furniture. So this is something that is just a fact of modern life.

Why detoxification is important to our body?

Detoxification is going on all the time and our ability to urinate and meaning, drinking lots of water so that our body can filter through and urinate is one form of detoxification. Our ability to pass stools to have a poo.

We had a program last year with Maria Hunt where we said, what does your poo say about you? And you will have heard me say that we do get a report card each and every day from our bodies and that report card is what appears out in the toilet bowl. There is the Bristol stool chart, which gives you seven types of feces or the appearance of feces, which gives you an indication as to whether your body is happy with what it is eating.

Ideally, you should have one to two bowel movements a day. Bowel movements are an important part of detoxification, and sweating is another one that is going on hopefully off throughout the day but actually, you can bring that on, of course, through exercise or through a sauna or heating the body up in some way. Our biggest organ is said to be our skin.

Detoxifying through the skin is a great way to do that. Fasting comes up in this program this week and the idea that our body when we eat something, is preoccupied with breaking that food down and absorbing the nutrients. But when we fast, it gives our body a chance to break down faulty cells, clear up waste, and allows our detoxification processes to focus more on toxins than on food.

By eating three meals a day and two snacks a day, which I’ve often said when in human history was that ever the norm? This is not a coincidence. I think, that we have become more obese and diabetes has gone through the roof since we’ve been told by health authorities that three meals a day and two snacks to keep our blood sugar level equal even throughout the day is a great and important public health message. Well, not so. Fasting is a great way of focusing or allowing the body to focus more on detoxification.

What is methylation?

Methylation refers to a process of adding methyl groups to the basis of your DNA, and it actually helps make things bioavailable and just work better. Methylation is when it’s going well is a process that helps you repair your DNA, regulate your hormones, produce energy, protect you against cancer, supports detoxification, and keeps your immune system healthy. Methylation is a term that Christabelle mentions and it’s an important term in biochemistry as well.

How does motility works?

Motility is actually the ability of our digestive tract to move food through our body, not just to digest it but to absorb it and then to eliminate the waste that is created.

Do we need to take supplements?

I ask Christabelle what her thoughts about supplements and as the word suggests, supplements are just that, a supplement to a healthy diet. You will hear in public health advice again that you don’t a healthy person does not need supplements if they are on a healthy diet. And therein lies two big ifs. Who is a healthy person? And are we all on our healthy diets, and healthy diets mean nutrient-dense. That means the soils in which the foods are grown contain the 50 or 60 elements that we need to be healthy.

Now, we know in Australia, for example, almost all soils are deficient in selenium, zinc, and magnesium, to name just a few. Interestingly, a deficiency in zinc will affect your motility. Your ability to move food through your digestive tract. But that’s an aside or just one example and people say, well, prescribing supplements is just like a prescription for medications. I don’t necessarily agree with that because of something that every health practitioner has studied at their undergraduate level. That was biochemistry, how every cell in our body works, how every biochemical.

There are literally trillions of biochemical processes going on in your body right now and those biochemical processes require those 50 or 60 elements to act, to push those processes along in a balanced and healthy way. So supplements are often what they do. They focus on those missing elements that may not be present in sufficient quantities in our diet because of either deficiency in what we’re eating. We’re eating too many processed foods or the food is too far from the source in which it was grown.

Certain elements have become less active or less bioavailable or they may just never have been present there because the soil in which that healthy food was grown just didn’t have those elements in it. This is why I focus so much on regenerative agriculture and healthy soils because you need those healthy soils to provide you with those 50 or 60 elements that we need to be healthy and if they’re not there, then supplements may be an effective way of supplementing that.

I would refer you to another great podcast that I did with Professor Fred Provenza on Nourish. It was called Nourish or Nourishment, and it was all about all the primary and secondary elements that are found in foods. I remember him using the humble strawberry as an example that there are 5000 bioactive components that mean components within and the humble strawberry.

Now we know what a handful of those do, but the beauty of Whole Foods is that there are that it is just that this work has been going on for literally millions of years in the laboratory of nature, building up all these polyphenols and biochemical components of foods that we haven’t even really discovered what the purpose of them are. We know that eating a whole food will give us that will give us those bioactive components of which are the elements that are often found in supplements are an important component.

Christabelle mentions one of the most important antioxidants is glutathione. It kind of reminds me of a mentor that I had many, many years ago who actually was the medical doctor in President Kennedy and President Johnson’s White House. Her name was Janet Travell. She’d written many books on Myofascial Pain. But she said something to me when I attended a workshop of hers over 30 years ago and that was Ron. If you know which questions to ask, not your patients will not only tell you what’s wrong with them, but they’ll often tell you what or how to fix it. You just have to know what the questions are and what the meaning of those answers is.


That’s why the study of nutritional and environmental medicine is such an interesting one because it goes right back to the basics of what every health practitioner studied that is biochemistry and tries to work out how the food we eat in the environment in which we live impacts on those biochemical processes. That occurs in the human body and makes us either well or sick.

I thought I’d just touch on some of those points to give you a little bit of a teaser, a taste. Go back and have a listen. If you haven’t to Christabelle Yeoh’s wonderful episode on nutritional and environmental medicine.


This podcast provides general information and discussion about medicine, health, and related subjects. The content is not intended and should not be construed as medical advice or as a substitute for care by a qualified medical practitioner. If you or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately qualified medical practitioner. Guests who speak in this podcast express their own opinions, experiences, and conclusions.