Sunday marked the first day of summer and its not uncommon for an explosion of detox diets and juice cleanses to hit the scene. If you have been left questioning what all of this really means and do you need to join in – well, in a nutshell, detoxification is a process whereby not so friendly substances (eg alcohol, pesticides) are changed by the liver to more friendly substances in preparation for their excretion from the body.
There is absolutely no need to deprive your body of food or severely restrict your diet in order to ‘detox’ – the body does this naturally. Instead, I encourage you to think about what you can add to your diet to support your body, rather than focusing on what you can and can’t have.
Here I share with you some simple, fuss free ways to support your body’s natural ability to detox and better still, these new habits can easily form part of your healthy routine, for life!
In order to carry out its natural detox functions, the liver relies on certain amino acids. Amino acids come from foods rich in protein. Aim to include a serve of lean protein at each meal and snack to provide your body with a constant supply. This is a better approach then eating all of your protein in one meal because small amounts of protein throughout the day can help to regulate appetite and support lean muscle growth. If you usually consume animal-based protein, try to alternate with some plant-based protein such as legumes (chickpeas, lentils, black beans, red kidney beans, cannellini beans), tofu/tempeh and nuts/seeds.
Fibre is one of the greatest tools when it comes to supporting your body’s natural ability to detox. This is because fibre helps to absorb and eliminate waste and toxins from your digestive system. If we aren’t regular, the waste and toxins get recycled. Aside from eating a diet high in fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts/seeds and wholegrains, a few additional fibre rich foods to add to your diet include:
- ground linseeds
- psyllium husks
- oat bran
All of the above work well added to smoothies or porridge, sprinkled on muesli or yoghurt with nuts/seeds or added to healthy baked goods.
The super foods I am referring to here in regards to liver health come straight from the ground and are easily accessible by all. Specifically, certain veggies and spices contain natural compounds, which are helpful to the optimal functioning of the liver including bitter greens (dandelion, radicchio, watercress, rocket) brassica vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts), beetroot and turmeric. Load up your plate with a selection of these veggies and spices daily. If you struggle to eat enough greens of veggies, adding in a greens powder to your day can be a way to bump up your intake, especially over the festive season.
Movement must get a mention here because it’s not just beneficial for overall health but can also aid digestive function and increase circulation. This in turn can help reduce fluid retention, which people often mistake for weight gain and feeling less than average. Aim for at least 20-30min daily as a start and make sure to pick something you enjoy.
As the temperature increases so too can our hydration needs. Adequate water is not only crucial for life but also helps to aid digestion, support concentration and regulate appetite. If you struggle to drink enough water or simply ‘forget’ –set an alarm for every 60min and make sure you have a sizeable glass or keep a water bottle in front of you to act as a reminder.
Swap your morning coffee for vegetable juice
While this can be a tall order for some, if you have been waking feeling sluggish and upping your caffeine intake, it may be time to break this habit. A cold-press vegetable juice delivers an abundance of vitamins, minerals, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds and also hydration, making it to the perfect way to start your day. Some of my most favourite combinations include:
- beetroot, carrot, ginger, celery and lemon; or
- apple, aloe vera, carrot, beetroot, parsley and ginger.
Finding ways to reduce stress and clear the mind should form part of everybody’s healthy daily routine. It may sound counterintuitive to slow down the mind as the festive season starts to gear up. However, there is only benefit in taking the time now to reduce stress and aim to be in the present moment. This will not only set you up for a better start to 2020 but also help you fully rejuvenate over the festive season! A few ideas to get you started include, say no to invites which do not serve your health, delete apps which keep you hooked on your screen and schedule in at least 30min ‘me time’ daily.