Spring has finally arrived but before you start contemplating a little ‘spring cleaning” it’s good to have the 101 on what works, what doesn’t and what is actually going to do you more harm than good even if your favourite celebrity swears by it.
When we think of detoxing, we’re usually referring to the process of detoxifying the systems of our body, mainly our gut in flushing out any toxic food, excessive alcohol and environmental pollutants we have been exposed to. But before you endeavor on a cleverly marketed detox program or juice cleanse, here’s the truth about detoxing, and what to do instead.
Our body has been capable of performing an internal detoxification since the dawn of time, rendering those aloe vera cleanses, juice fasts, maple syrup cleanses and any other “essential detox program” vying for your hard earned pennies entirely unnecessary, and in most cases, causing more damage than good. There are however a few steps we can take to help our body rejuvinate, revitalize and give it a boost to internally spring clean itself. Here are my top 5:
1. For the love of God, eat your FATS.
There are many popular detoxification diets that claim to revitalize and rejuvenate through disciplined fasts, food abstinence and juice cleanses. The issue with all of these is they promote a limited intake of macronutrients such as fat needed to regulate your hormones, build muscle for a tight, toned body, regulate metabolism, assist us in dropping body fat, helping our digestion and boosting our immune system. When we don’t consume enough healthy fat in our diet like whilst on one of these juice detoxes, our body starts eating away at our muscles which means our basal metabolic rate lowers, in turn cranking down the number of calories our bodies burn at rest. We also start getting all sorts of food cravings. Bad news all around.
2. Movement Habits
The longest living people on earth have one thing in common. They are constantly moving. Our bodies need movement for blood circulation, speeding up our digestion and stimulating our muscles. If you spend the majority of your day in an office or in front of a computer, harness the power of technology and use one of the dozens of amazing accelerometers that can track your movement, steps and level of activity throughout the day. Aim for at least 10,000 steps each day which you can try and get in with a walk at lunchtime (which will in turn also boost your productivity – a good excuse if you’re running rate from it!), go for a walking meeting with a colleague and take the stairs instead of the lift. Aim for 30 minutes of resistance exercise every day to also help promote fat loss and toning your body for general health and mental wellbeing.
3) Eat the rainbow
Eating lots of vegetables, seeds, nuts and good fats in salads, smoothies and cold pressed juices will allow your body to absorb the nutrients it needs such as vitamins B and C, potassium, calcium, magnesium and essential amino acids our bodies need to get from food for bright skin, healthy skin and nails, strong hair and sustained energy to detoxify your body. Remember that consistency is key, so even if you treat yourself, come back to your end goal and steer yourself back on track as soon as you can.
4) Get your ZZZ’s
Sleep is such an underrated (but fun!) part of the process. When I first started out in the health and wellness industry and building up my business, whilst holding down a fulltime corporate job, I would burn the candle at both ends and deluded myself into thinking I was coping. I, and the people around me gradually noticed my mental state diminish, and I saw my happiness being zapped, my body composition and physique changing (not in a favourable way!) even though my nutrition and training were the same, my skin becoming sallow and…. my relationships starting to go down the drain. Don’t do this to yourself! Try a nurturing bedtime ‘me-time’ routine that resonates with you allowing at least 8 hours of shut eye a night. If you’re serious about your health, make this a priority.
5) More than a gut feeling
Called our second brain, our gut is our largest sensory organ and responsible for, amongst other processes, our digestion. There is more and more new research that correlates to our gut acting as the gateway to how we deal with and experience anxiety, depression, anger and happiness.
I like to start the day with a glass or shot of apple cider vinegar with fresh lemon and warm water and fermented foods after my meals. Don’t try this for the first time whilst driving like I did. Drinking at least a litre of water a day will go a long way to curbing false signals of hunger and getting our digestion under way!
Fermented products like kombucha, kimchi and sauerkraut are also a good way to finish off a meal. These promote healthy bacteria in the gut and are way more effective than a Yakult!
My final thought: We all have a bad week, bad few months, sometimes a bad year. We eat junk, we go on benders, we stuff ourselves silly. We know this is bad news for our bodies from the way we feel the next day. So we think a detox will be just the answer in cleaning out all the junk in our system and dropping some excess kgs. But here’s the catch: detoxing is like putting on a band-aid. It’s trying to cover up past bad habits with a quick solution that will only further deprive our bodies of the essential nutrients it needs and decrease our overall health. Once we address these in how we approach our nutrition and training, that is where long term results happen.