During lockdown it felt like everyone was talking about ‘detoxing’ or considering a ‘cleanse’ in a bid to try and remove toxins and get healthier. Though, health fads like detox diets are not the best or healthiest thing to try. I totally get it; it’s easy to see someone promote a quick 5-day detox and get sucked in.
Then you see some amazing before and after shots and bang! Before you know it, you’re fasting! The truth is we need to take it much slower and not expect miracles in 5 days or with a quick 7-day juice cleanse. You need to focus on nourishing whole foods, implement new behaviours and lifestyle changes that work for your individual body.
A typical detox diet often involves fasting and is followed by a diet of fruit, vegetables, teas, supplements, and water. Not only can this cause other problems it can also put someone’s health at risk. Detox diets are so easy and cheap to do, it’s no wonder they’re so popular, but there’s very little evidence that they work and more specifically, what toxins do they remove from the body? Yes, you may feel more focused and energetic after you’ve gone an entire week not reaching for yet another chocolate digestives or flat white but how long will it last before you’re back to square one?
How the body naturally detoxifies
Detoxification is the process of removing toxic substances. It’s near enough impossible to ever live a toxic-free life. The harsh reality is toxins are everywhere from the moment we are born we are exposed to them, and recent studies have shown that an average new-born has detectable levels of more than 200 toxic or cancer-causing chemicals when they are born. Shocking but very true.
The good news is that your body amazing and really does a good job of taking care of itself. Our kidneys, lungs, blood, sweat glands and liver all work to remove toxins from our body’s.
What are toxins?
There are two types of toxins in the body: natural toxins that are made in the body during regular metabolism, and those that come from outside the body and are introduced by eating, drinking, breathing or those that are absorbed through the skin (pesticides, toxic skin care products, mercury in seafood, drugs or alcohol etc).
The ability to detoxify varies from person to person and can be influenced by environment, diet, lifestyle choices, health status and more. If the amount of toxins in someone’s body exceeds the body’s ability to excrete them, it can impact the health in a negative way.
If for example, you’re suffering from an autoimmune disease, it’s worth having a detox evaluation with a professional nutritionist or dietician to find out which toxins are affecting your body. In its simplest form, this involves going through a process of elimination and cleansing, then adding back nutrients and healing. What’s key here is using whole food as basis to start from. For those with an autoimmune condition, cutting out dairy, gluten, sugars can help to bring any inflammation down.
As a detox specialist and from studying toxicology, I can educate my clients to identify certain food and environmental toxins and then help them to implement healthy personalised nutritional strategies. But like with most things, what works for one, doesn’t always work for the other, so it’s a programme that’s bespoke to the individual.
Here’s some easy tips to help your body’s natural detoxification:
- Sweat it out
Exercising is a great way to start help remove harmful chemicals frm the body but take it easy to begin with. Walking, swimming and weight-bearing exercise is all good to strengthen your body and immune system too.
- Eat well
Support your liver by eating colourful, protein-rich gut-healthy food including cabbage, kale, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and broccoli, green tea, garlic, artichoke, onions and leeks.
- Stay hydrated
Drink plenty of water throughout the day to help flush your kidneys. The best way to know you’re drinking enough is when you rarely feel thirsty, and your urine is colourless or light yellow.
- Get things moving
Increase dietary fibre, from fruits, vegetables and ground flax seed to help have healthy bowel movements.
Halima is a qualified Chef, plant-based nutritionist with her focus being to help people use food as medicine to heal conditions. The power of food goes without saying to nurture, nourish and feel whole.www.tailoredtaste.co.uk