DETOX NOT RETOX DETOX – A WASTE OF TIME AND MONEY?
Scientists would have us believe that the concept of detox is no more than an expensive gimmick, thought up by the health and beauty industry to relieve us of our hard-earned cash. They have a point; many products out there really are expensive gimmicks that claim to cleanse us of all manner of toxins within a matter of days, leaving us fresh, youthful and re-energised. However, the idea of detoxification has been around for centuries, having origins in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine, and used historically in the treatment of many diseases.
SO WHAT DOES DETOX REALLY MEAN?
Most detoxes aim to encourage your body to rid itself of chemicals and toxic by- products alleged to accumulate in the tissues as a consequence of stress, poor dietary habits, pollution, cigarettes, drugs, alcohol, too many late nights and lack of exercise. In fact, the healthy body is perfectly able to deal with and disarm these toxins or non-nutrients by breaking them down, storing them in fat tissue or excreting them; however, valuable energy, vitamins and minerals are used up in the process. Performing a detox is a way of supporting the bodyʼs natural detoxification processes, giving them a welcome break and allowing the body some time-out to recharge.
A GREAT WAY TO LOSE WEIGHT?
Many detox programs will promise loss of inches or even better, cellulite. It is true that drinking only juices or eating only fruits and vegetables are a form of fasting that usually results in some weight loss, but your body responds by slowing down your metabolism. Any weight lost is usually put back on as soon as you begin to eat more normally again. In addition fasting can cause irritability, dizziness, electrolyte imbalances, sleep problems, mood changes and even depression.
SO WHATʼS THE BEST WAY TO DETOX?
The problem with most detox diets is that they are too low in protein. Protein is vital to the liver, our main detox organ, and detoxification is impaired if we donʼt eat it.
The best way to detox is gently over 2-4 weeks, following the four main steps:
1. Reduce exposure to toxins:
Avoid processed (refined or white) foods, artificial food additives, caffeine, alcohol, sugar and red meat. NB if you drink a lot of caffeine, it's probably best to cut down rather than cut it out as sudden withdrawal can leave you headachy and irritable. Drink 8 glasses (2 litres) of filtered or bottled water – more than this can put a strain on the kidneys. Eat more organic food. Use pharmaceutical medications only when absolutely necessary as these are usually hard on the liver. Investigate possible food sensitivities and eliminate problem foods.
2. Help your liver break down toxins: Avoid foods which can stress or congest your liver i.e. alcohol, caffeine, fried/fatty foods etc. Consider taking foods and supplements to boost antioxidant levels liver enzyme production including milk thistle, dandelion root, and brightly coloured fruit/veg containing vital antioxidants.
3. Stimulate bile production:
Bile flushes wastes out of your liver cells and then out of your body via your gall-bladder and intestines. Several foods and herbal teas can help to step up your bile production, including bitter/pungent herbs such as rocket or basil, dandelion root, and 1⁄2 lemon in warm water every morning.
4. Stimulate rapid clearance of wastes:
This is done with foods and natural products that stimulate the drainage of waste-laden bile from liver and gall-bladder and increase the frequency of bowel motions, such as soluble fibre found in porridge oats or psyllium husk. Also take frequent Epsom salts hot baths or saunas to encourage sweating.
WHAT CAN I EXPECT FROM A DETOX DIET?
Done properly, a detox diet will benefit most people in the following ways:
• Re-educates the tastebuds, giving you a liking for the foods you should be eating more of (fast food will never taste the same!).
• Boosts nutrient levels, particularly antioxidants, B vitamins, and magnesium which are depleted by a poor diet.
• Re-hydrates the body by drinking adequate amounts of water and cutting down on alcohol and caffeine. Improves energy levels for all of the above reasons!
WHICH IS THE BEST TIME OF YEAR TO DETOX?
Many people consider a detox in January due to festive overindulgence. However, the traditional time for a detox is at the change of season from Winter to Spring, as Spring is the time of year that the liver has the most energy.
CAN ANYONE DO A DETOX?
Detox is not recommended if you are pregnant; this is because toxins may come out of safe storage and circulate in the bloodstream, crossing over into the placenta and potentially harming the baby.
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