A quick look through your Facebook feed or Instagram and it seems everyone is on a detox programme. These offer fast weight loss, glowing skin and sumptuous hair. All you have to do is go on a juice fast for a set period of time. What’s not to like? Surely forgoing solid food for a few days is a small price to pay for all your weight issues to melt away? Surely there is nothing dangerous, subversive or detrimental to your health in drinking nothing but liquids? In the very short term you may be able to get away with this…Maybe. In the long term you are down regulating enzymes necessary for the adequate digestion and assimilation of the nutrients that are absent from your diet, exhausting the digestive pathway of the nutrients you are bombarding your body with and reducing the effectiveness of peristalsis within the bowel because there isn’t as much of a need for it due to the absence of solid food! The traditional juice fast or detox programme typically lasted 3 days but they are getting ever longer – the most recent i’ve encountered was ‘Lose 30lbs in 30 Days!!’.
Whilst people may enter into something like this with the misguided idea that they are doing themselves good, or ‘kickstart’ their diet, they are infact doing their bodies a severe disservice. In addition many of these programmes require that you also purchase their (usually expensive) detoxing formula or tablet to accompany your cleanse. Without this powerful combination you are destined to be a toxic cesspit with no hope of ever being healthy, happy and lean. Or so the marketing would have you believe.
What they don’t tell you is that we are very efficient at eliminating the majority of waste products, your 100 trillion cells are very adept at taking in nutrients and eliminating waste products. Every minute of every day your body naturally detoxifies itself. You excrete waste products through your bowel movements, urination, sweat, and even your breath. Whilst it isn’t possible for your body to eliminate all of the toxins all of the time, you don’t need an unsustainable juice fast to allow this process to occur and you certainly don’t need a ‘pill’.
I do agree that due to the stresses and strains of modern life, toxins can build up in your body over time. The reason is that the amount of toxins we are subjected to is unprecedented and the liver and kidneys can only process so much at one time. Think of your washing machine or dishwasher- you can only put so much into them and expect clean results!!
BUT there is no magic food or pill that will detox your body, so don’t be fooled! That’s what your liver, kidneys and skin are for. They do an excellent job of riding your system of nasties, your best plan of action is to support via proper broad spectrum nutrition.
Issues only arise when poor dietary choices and below par nutritional status lead to less than ideal function of these organs. You want to create an environment where your detoxification systems can work at optimal efficiency. This can be achieved by making lifestyle and food choices that nourish and protect these vital detoxifying organs such as:
Chlorophyll rich food (think Green leafy veg)
Gelatinous plant foods- such as Aloe Vera and chia seeds, the chia seeds absorb bile salts secreted by liver and helps to bind and then eliminate toxins.
Parsley – cleanses blood supply and gives fresh breath
Cilantro- binds with heavy metals and helps to move them out of body eg Mercury (found in deep water fish)
Beetroot- fresh beetroot is a powerful food for cleansing and supporting liver function also a great alternative to processed pre-workout!
Good quality water – use a filtering system or bpa free bottle/filter combo such as the Bobble
Air – fresh and lots of it! If you can – manage a short walk every day in a park or countryside.
Sunlight – adequate amounts of sunlight allows our bodies to synthesize vitamin D which has many uses and is critical for good health and disease prevention. A recent study has also shown that it increases intracellular levels of glutathione a vital antioxidant, and can help eliminate heavy metals from the body.
Exercise – during exercise your body will eliminate toxins via your largest organ- the skin!
The easiest way to help your detoxifying organs do their job is to try and eat a clean wholefood, single ingredient diet and take a green shake regularly. Add this to your current diet, rather than using it as a sole source of nutrients, think of it as an organic supplement to your diet not a replacement! Include foods like:
Kale or Spinach
Organic beetroot juice
Organic coconut water
And filtered water
If you do want to give your liver an extra helping hand you could add a few drops of Milk Thistle to your shake but I hope this post has shown you that when considering a detox, all you really have to do is provide your body with the right tools and it will do the rest!
Naomi McArdle MSc