Welcome to January. After the excesses of Christmas parties, eating (and drinking) too much over the holidays, chances are you’re feeling bloated, uncomfortable, sluggish, and ready to kickstart a healthy approach to 2014!
Celebrity chef and nutritionist, Zoe Bingley-Pullin, shares some tips on post-holiday rejuvenation, and why it’s important we give our bodies a break.
1. Our toxic overload has to go somewhere
Our bodies are confronted by toxins every day. From the by-products of our own metabolism, to chemical toxins in our food (pesticide and herbicide residues, additives, preservatives, flavourings, stabilisers, colouring etc), alcohol, cigarettes, medications, synthetic hormones, cosmetics, cleaning products, gardening fertilisers and pesticides, car and industrial pollution, and environmental poisons.
Our bodies handle toxic substances in one of three ways: it neutralises the toxin completely, it transforms it into something less toxic, or it eliminates it.
The main organs of elimination – liver, bowel, kidneys, skin and lungs – do what they can to get rid of the toxins but if a state of ‘toxic overload’ is reached, toxins will accumulate in body tissues, commonly our fat stores, and lead to symptoms of ill-health.
2. Detoxing doesn’t have to be drastic
Often, when we think of detoxing, we think of fasting, or eliminating solid food from our diets for a set period of time. This is severe and can have negative side effects due to reduced energy and nutrient intake. Avoiding ‘stressors’ such as caffeine, alcohol and processed, ready-made foods, and eating foods that are as close to their natural state as possible, is a good approach to detoxing our bodies after the excesses of the holiday season.
3. Colourful food (naturally) is best
Aim to eat whole, unprocessed foods such as raw vegetables, fruits and nuts. Brightly coloured fruits and vegetables provide antioxidants such as vitamins C and E, betacarotene and phytonutrients. Eating whole, unprocessed foods means you are getting ample fibre for bowel health, and supportive nutrients that help the liver and digestive organs to efficiently metabolise and excrete harmful substances.
Avoid allergenic foods, organ meats, refined sugars and flours, processed meats, alcohol, caffeine, artificial additives such as flavourings, colourings and sweeteners, hydrogenated and saturated fats, fried foods, eggs and drugs.
Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and keep your kidneys and bowel working properly.
4. Protein plays a part
Modestly increasing the amount of protein in your diet while reducing carbohydrate and fat intake will help promote a feeling of fullness, increase lean muscle mass and improve body composition. Whey protein is one of the highest quality and richest sources of amino acids needed every day, known for its benefits in muscle growth and weight loss. IsoWhey® offers delicious protein powders which can be made into shakes that also provide 23 nutrients and vitamins, as well as pre- and probiotics and digestive enzymes to support your digestive system.
5. Move… and meditate
Combining aerobic and resistance training 3-4 times a week can help the bowel, kidneys, lungs and skin to eliminate toxins released from fat stores. Exercise also increases metabolism, regulates appetite and discourages fat storage.
Aim to spend 5-10 minutes each day meditating or practicing mindful thought. Remove yourself from distractions and spend time focusing on your breathing, to concentrate on the here and now. Helping your brain relax and take conscious time out from the bustle of everyday life and responsibilities will also help eliminate toxins.