Spring is definitely here, even if it’s still quite chilly in London! I have noticed a few daffodils appearing here and there, and I am starting to think it might be time to give my house a deep ‘spring clean’. Notice, this is just a thought and it will hopefully go away soon!
During this time of year many people think about detoxing their bodies too and I get asked about this topic a lot. The main question I would like to answer is: do we really need to detox?
First of all let’s just remind ourselves that our body undergoes detoxification all the time. We all have inbuilt mechanisms to get rid of toxins thought the liver, urine, faeces and sweat. The liver, our main detoxification organ, makes toxic substances harmless and then makes sure they are safely released from the body. Unfortunately we live in a very toxic world, where toxins are everywhere and include pesticides, insecticides, herbicides, fertilisers, food additives, chemicals, alcohol, medications, and solvents.
Our natural detoxification system can sometimes become overloaded and/or inefficient and an accumulation of toxins in the body can occur, leading to ill health. So when we think about detoxing, I believe it is more important to avoid loading our bodies with toxins in the first place, and to support our liver on a daily basis, instead of rushing to book a temporary quick fix juice-only retreat in the countryside!
For those of you who have read my previous posts, you know that I am not against juicing at all. I think that a short juice fast, for instance, can be useful to jump start weight loss, increase energy and empower people to take on healthier eating habits. A good detoxification programme may also be beneficial for some people, especially, those suffering from auto-immune conditions, allergies, headaches, fatigue, infertility, constipation, cellulite and cravings. However, extreme or DIY detoxification regimes can be particularly dangerous, especially if you suffer from a chronic condition, so before considering a detox, always seek advice from a fully qualified nutritional therapist or health practitioner.
So, which liver friendly foods should you consider? Here you are a few ideas:
• Vegetables: especially cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts. Beetroot is also extremely beneficial as it helps to thin the bile supporting detoxification. Globe artichoke, fennel, garlic and onions are also helpful.
• Fruits: vitamin C rich lemons, oranges and berries. Apples and pears provide pectin, a soluble fibre, which combines with toxins in the gut and helps with their excretion. Papaya and pineapple contains enzymes which aid digestion.
• Herbs: dandelion which improves gall bladder function and stimulates the flow of bile leading to improved digestion. It is also a strong diuretic and can help with water retention. You can eat the leaves in a salad or buy it as a coffee which you can find in most health food shops. Turmeric and wild yam also support gall bladder function.
• Protein: oily fish (salmon, mackerel and sardines which also provide anti inflammatory omega threes fatty acids), white meats (chicken and turkey) and eggs. Avoid processed and smoked meats.
• Fat: use coconut oil for cooking and extra virgin olive oil raw to add to foods. Avocado, in my view a true ‘super food’, is also a good source of beneficial oils as well as B vitamins, vitamin E and potassium.
• Choose organic produce whenever possible.
• Water: ok it is not a food but it is your liver’s favourite drink! Aim for at least 1, 5 litres of purified water a day. If you do not have a water purifier then you can buy mineral water. You can also try lemon water or herbal teas.
And the foods you should avoid:
• All processed, pre-packaged foods which are loaded with hydrogenated and trans fats, as well as salt, additives and preservatives.
• Alcohol and stimulants (coffee, tea, chocolate).
• Refined carbohydrates, sugar and sweeteners. If you want something sweet, eat fresh fruit, in moderation.
• Eliminate gluten and dairy as they are pro-inflammatory as well as highly allergenic foods.
When it comes to avoiding food and detoxification, probably the best favour you can do to your body is to actually fast for a period of time. During fasting it is not just the digestive system that gets a break, but your whole body repairs itself on a cellular level. I do believe that fasting is not for everybody, but it can be beneficial for some people. Provided you are pretty healthy and do not suffer from specific conditions, you could give Intermittent Fasting (a ‘gentler’ version) a go to see if this works for you.
Another way the body gets rid of toxins is via sweat, so do not forget to include some physical exercise into your daily routine and go for a sauna, when you can.
There is also another aspect of detoxing and it relates to lifestyle. Toxins are not just in the food we eat, the water we drink and the air we breathe. For instance, women, and I have been guilty of this too in the past, put far too many chemicals on their skin and hair. If you have not already done so, you should consider switching to organic, chemical free cosmetics, as well as cleaning products for the home.
That spring cleaning might end up being a good idea after all!
If you would like to find out more about detoxing, get in touch. Call 07772491975 or write me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org