Your ‘No Effort’ New Year Detox

Detox doesn't have to mean diet: let your body do it for youChristmas is a time of Good Cheer, plenty of socialising, high alcohol intake, lots of cake, mince pies, chocolate, sugar and not much exercise. It is no wonder that after Christmas we feel bloated, fat, run down and generally very sluggish.

The New Year brings a new start with many new resolutions to lose weight and to get fit. But how can you make sure it really works this time?

Your body is very clever and given the right tools it can detox efficiently on its own. Your gut stops bacteria and lots of other toxins from entering your body and if anything nasty does get through your liver will combine it with its own special chemicals to make a water soluble compound that your kidneys can flush away in your urine or through your skin as sweat.

But putting yourself on a strict fast or juice-only diet for a whole day to flush things out will cause your blood sugars to sink really low which means you crave stodgy foods and feel extra tired and sluggish. Plus you’ll be missing out on essential energy boosting nutrients like B vitamins and proteins. It’s much better to eat cleansing natural foods and just cut out the bad stuff.

The key is to load up on foods that support your body’s natural detox system. You need to be eating foods packed with antioxidant nutrients and sulphur to boost your liver function and to eliminate foods and drinks that tax it, such as alcohol, caffeine, fatty foods and sugar. There really is no need to follow a strict detox if you don’t want to – these simple solutions are dead easy (and the results will speak for themselves!).

  • Hydrate your body: The first and most important rule is to drink more water. Start each day with a cup of hot water and a squeeze of lemon. It cleanses and helps rehydrate your liver. Then make sure you drink at least two litres of water throughout the day. If you think you might forget, try having a glass of water on the hour, every hour. A herbal tea counts towards your water intake but regular tea and coffee don’t as they are dehydrating.
  • Go organic if you can: it contains more nutrients and helps give your liver a restEat fresh: Choose fresh, natural, cleansing foods and avoid nutrient scarce ready meals, sugary and fatty foods and refined products like white bread which can all bombard your liver with chemicals, additives and lots of dehydrating salt. Have green vegetables with every meal and avoid snacking from anything that hasn’t been plucked off a tree or raised from the soil. If you can go organic it will really help as organic produce usually contains more of the most valuable nutrients. It’s also grown and reared without pesticides, antibiotics and other chemicals so your liver won’t get bogged down. (See also the detox superfoods article).
  • Swap your fats: Your no effort detox plan is about giving your body what it needs but only if it tastes great. This means stocking up on hormone balancing essential fats (the ones that keep your skin and joints healthy and protect your heart) and cutting down on liver clogging saturated fats. So use olive or sunflower oil instead of butter, or mashed avocado on rye or wholemeal bread – instead of margarine on white. Use oils like flax or hemp for salads instead of dressings.
  • Cook light: You don’t have to eat raw food all the time as you may find it hard to digest and it can cause bloating. So just steam, stir fry or grill instead. The shorter time you cook your vegetables the more vital detoxing nutrients they retain.
  • Go herbal: herbal teas are great liver-cleansersGo herbal: Fennel, nettle and ginger tea are all great cleansers and unlike tea and coffee don’t contain chemicals that make extra work for your liver. If you don’t want to quit your daily cuppa at least cut down your intake of caffeine by a few cups a day or try green tea which is lower in caffeine or redbush tea. And take a break from alcohol too as it’s one of the most poisonous chemicals you can put into your body. Avoid it completely for a few days to give your body a chance to recover and then no more than one or two drinks a day.
  • Sweat it out: Like the liver and lungs, your skin excretes great amounts of metabolic wastes and pollutants making it one of the body’s best waste disposal organs. Encouraging perspiration with regular aerobic exercise is therefore an excellent way of removing nasty toxins and pollutants.
  • Do it with herbs: Many herbs can help you detox but one that is known to have particular detoxifying properties is milk thistle. Also known as wild artichoke it has been used for centuries to protect the liver against damaging disease and toxins. And more recent research shows that it contains flavoligans that protect the liver from damage due to toxic substances such as pesticides and herbicides.

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