After Christmas or Summer holiday, most of us have over-indulged and feel ‘stuffed’, ‘sick of food’, possibly ‘toxic’ after the Christmas holiday and in need of a clean-out. I advise caution and urge avoidance of dramatic detox potions – one man’s meat is another man’s poison.
My neighbour wanted to detox on January 1st and like most, wanted a fast solution, thinking he was bullet-proof. He searched the internet and came across a recipe of epsom salts, olive oil and lemon juice. He drank it as directed across the day and fell violently sick after it with extreme weakness and diarrhea. ‘Never again’ he vowed.
Our ability to detox varies greatly which can be partly explained by genetic mutations in the enzymes that are involved in detoxification e.g. alcohol dehydrogenase, P450 enzymes, conjugation enzymes amongst others. However few of us are aware of any shortfalls in these critical enzymes until we really push our body. Why take this risk?
The best and safest way to detox is to reduce your food and drink intake, giving the liver and gut a rest. The liver will do the rest.
Short-term Fasts and calorie restrictions have been shown to;
1. Boost P450 detox enzymes and metallothioneins (proteins that bind heavy metals) levels.
2. Increase the power of white blood cells to kill pathogenic bacteria
3. Benefit cognitive function – clearer thinking and sense of renewal
4. Improve liver function and gut repair. Extend lifespan.
My suggested detoxification approach
Follow a 1 to 2 day food fast, drinking water, lemon and herbal teas. However, avoid fasting if you are diabetic or hypoglycaemic. Get plenty of rest on these days and avoid vigorous exercise for the entire detox period. A gentle walk is fine.
Reduce your calorie intake for the next 3 to 5 days. Intermittent fasting is another great option reducing your eating window to 8 hours and fasting for the remainder of the 24 hours. For example eat 12 noon to 8pm and not outside these hours. Women typically eat to 1300 and men to 1800, again with no extreme vigorous exercise or hard physical work.
Protein is absolutely critical to the liver detox process. Choose fish over meat for the initial period as it is a lean protein, ideal at dinner times. Enrich the protein content of soups and casseroles with lentils and beans. Soups are the perfect weight-loss lunch or dinner. Whey protein powder is easily digested and has been shown to boost glutathione levels in the liver. Therefore a protein shake using fresh green veggies, herbs and fruits is a great option for 3 days as a breakfast or snack. Egg is a great protein -boiled as a snack or poached/scrambled for a weekend breakfast.
Eat whole foods – 6 to 7 handfuls of vegetables per day, ensuring you eat leafy greens everyday and 2 fruit portions. Avoid more than 2 fruits a day as fructose can inhibit some enzymes. Steam, gently sautee or eat veggies raw. Buy organic and eat the skins where appropriate. Take 2 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar before every meal – dilute it in water.
Try to include the following foods in your daily recipes – lemons and lemon juice, curcumin [turmeric], the brassica vegetables [cabbage, brussel sprouts, broccoli], onions, garlic, rosemary, parsley and all fresh green herbs, apple cider vinegar and olive oil. Artichoke, aubergine, radishes and beetroot benefit the liver.
Increase your water intake to 2 litres per day or a little more. Use clean filtered water or mineral water. Herbal teas are an excellent hydrator and detox teas will include dandeloin, ginger, lemongrass and milk thistle. Peppermint and menthols soothes the belly and gallbladder.
SLEEP – The body repairs during so aim to get 7 to 8 hours per night of restful sleep. Essential oils such as lavender can help induce sleep as can heat and darkness. Soak 2 handfuls of epsom salts in a warm bath and a soak for a minimum of 20 minutes can help to replenish magnesium stores. Note: Excess alcohol over holiday is likely to have depleted magnesium stores.
If you have access to a SAUNA it is an excellent way of assisting the liver to excrete toxins through the skin. Stimulate the skin with a very cold shower followed by a hot sauna and travel between both for 20 minutes or as long as you can bear and enjoy. Dry skin brushing can also help to stimulate the lymph system underneath your skin – brush before showering and brush towards the heart using a natural bristle brush.
Avoid alcohol, cigarettes, cigarette smoke, drugs [apart from essential medications], food additives and preservatives, and STRESS.
Finally if the gut is really poorly after the Christmas period, consider some supplementation such as aloe vera juice, grapeseed extract, probiotics, saccromyces boulardii and 1 course of a potent multi-vitamin to help replenish nutrient stores. Seek advice before taking supplements.
If you would like help losing weight and kick-starting a new lifestyle, contact me