Have you bee overindulging just a little bit too much over the Christmas break? (Groan!)  Did you swear that come the new year you would mend your ways and get healthy?

What is a detox and should you be doing it?

Detox is short for detoxification, which means ridding the body of toxins so that it may function optimally and so you can feel healthy and well.  The body has it’s own built in detoxification system, functioning continuously, but sometimes it needs an extra helping hand, especially when you’ve been over doing it.  This doesn’t mean cabbage soup for a week. That’s no fun. Nor do you need to go on a restrictive boring diet that you probably won’t stick to, despite your well-intentioned New Year’s resolution!

Here are some easy rules for detox success and a clean slate for the new year. Cheers to that!

  1. Stop feeding yourself C.R.A.P. (caffeine, refined sugar, alcohol and processed foods)
  2. Eat fresh whole foods that boost  liver function and the detox process
  3. Drink more water
  4. Correct any zinc and magnesium deficiencies to boost metabolism
  5. Reduce stress

 1. C.R.A.P

It makes no sense to detox if you are going to continue to put the bad stuff in.  You need to take a break from drugs such as caffeine, alcohol and nicotine.

You need to limit refined white sugar products as much as possible, such as chocolate lollies, soft drink and cordial. Avoid processed foods. These by their very nature are full of sugar, trans fats, additives, preservatives, and artificial sweeteners, flavours and colours, all of which are toxic to the body. If a food comes in a packet, other than pre-packed fresh or frozen veg, you don’t want it.

2. Your liver is in charge of detoxification

Your liver is in charge of cleansing your blood and neutralising dangerous substances.  It is a two-phase process.  Phase I involves breaking down dangerous substances by oxidating them ready for the next sgae. Phase II is called conjugation, where the metabolites (broken down substances) are bound to amino acids and sulphur ready for elimination via bile, urine or the bowel.  If Phase II doesn’t start promptly due to lack of carrier nutrients, a build up of toxins occur, and then you feel crap (excuse the language!)  B vitamins are plentiful enough but it is a good idea to eat more fruit and veg of every colour* for the antioxidants, protein for the amino acids  (eggs are particularly good) and sulphurated vegetables including cruciferous vegies (broccoli, cauli, cabbage, kale, water cress, brussel sprouts etc) and onion-family vegies (garlic, leeks and shallots).

* Did you know it is flavonoids (another name for antioxidants) that give fruit and veg their unique colour? So the more colours you eat the more different antioxidants you get, and each does a slightly different  job.

I can not stress enough the importance of protein (to supply amino acids) and lots of fruit and vegetables of every colour, but especially the green leafy kind (to supply sulphur and antioxidants). So ditch highly processed carbohydrate foods and eat more cleansing foods including protein and vegetables.

Salads and sprouts are particularly good becaase they contain lots of enzymes, but if you’re not a big vegie and salad eater get into a green juice once or twice a day (great addition to brekkie or a snack). A recipe is available at the bottom of this post.

3.  Drink more water

Help your body flush all those toxins out through your kidneys and bowel by drinking enough water. A great way to cleanse the blood and stimulate stomach acid for proper digestion and absorption of food is to start each day with a glass of warm water and squeeze in half a lemon. You can do this before each meal too to give your digestive system a helping hand.  Another thing that helps flush toxins is to eat enough fibre. Once the toxins are eliminated from the liver they need to make their way out of your system. They must bind to fibre to exit in your stool. Otherwise, yes you guessed it, another toxic bottle neck, this time in your colon, and that does not sound good!

4.  Magnesium and zinc for your metabolism

Those few rules should boost your body’s ability to detox. If however you are still feeling sluggish perhaps your metabolism needs some help too. Which brings me to an important note. When you start a detox you might feel worse or crummy for a couple of days. That is from the release of toxins from fat stores by your liver. Up your intake of fruit and veg,  especially citrus for the vitamin C, to mop up the damage.   There are two minerals in particular that are crucial to your metabolism. Magnesium and zinc, which together are required for over 500 chemical reactions (metabolism) in your body. Many people are deficient in these without realising it because they are generally lacking in the Western diet. If you’ve been ill or suffer from on-going stress, your reserves are probably depleted.  Mineral levels can be checked by blood test and there are particular foods ands upplements that can correct any imbalance.

5. Reduce stress

The destructive effects of stress on the body can not be underestimated and deserves a mention here. In particular, stress of any kind slows the digestive and elimination systems, leading to a build up of toxins.

Now is a good time to eliminate toxic food and drinks, toxic thoughts (negative thinking)  and toxic people from your life!  A certain amount of work or family stress is unavoidable. To counter this it is important to make time to relax. Taking a walk, a bath, laughing with a friend, doing some meditation, stopping to just breathe and especially exercise are all effective ways to help bring balance to a hectic life.  Simple things work best!

Please ask questions or comment below

Have fun and feel well!


Further reading

10 tips for detox success

Green juice recipe

5 ways to get more vegies into your breakfast

Best detox foods