|Kim Hofmann, Dietitian|
The Ins and Outs of Detoxification
The holidays have passed and for most of us it is back to the real life… Which means that it is time to get rid of all the treats that have crept into our diets and go back to a clean eating. Does that mean we should detox? Detoxification is the physiological or medical removal of toxins from an organism. Our bodies do this naturally via the liver, but some people believe that it cannot be done sufficiently and we may need to incorporate a special dietary routine and supplements.
Are we living in a Toxic World?
Toxins are chemicals or poisons that have a harmful effect on the body. According to Dr Mark Hyman eighty thousand toxic chemicals have been released into our environment since the start of the industrial revolution. Our bodies process the toxins and eliminate them in the form of sweat, urine and faeces.
Toxins can come from the air (gasses from car and factory emissions as well as cigarette smoke); water (chlorine, bleach, and ammonia have been reported to be in our drinking water); food (certain food additives, highly processed –specifically white flour, saturated fat and sugar products– or genetically modified foods may contain toxins; gluten and dairy can be a toxin); chemicals (for example pesticides– specifically on non-organic foods– and heavy metals such as mercury and lead); and our bodies (changes in the gut bacteria as well as hormonal and metabolic toxins). There are even mental, emotional and spiritual toxins.
What do these Toxins do in our Bodies?
If the load of toxins is too high our detox system can become overwhelmed and the excess toxins accumulate in the body. When there are toxins in our body, the body functions in a suboptimal environment, making it more vulnerable, and this is when we may start developing symptoms and getting sick. The body burden is the accumulative load of toxicity in the body that may cause inflammatory conditions and illness. Some of the symptoms of chronic toxicity include fatigue, headaches, sleep problems, skin problems, food cravings or difficulty losing weight. Certain diseases such as dementia, chronic fatigue syndrome, autoimmune disease, food allergies and even cancer may also be related to toxicity.
Do I need to Detox or Live Healthy?
The primary key with detox is to eliminate or minimize your exposure to toxins and to enhance the body’s capacity to detox itself. My suggestion is to always start with clean and healthy living. This in and of itself will improve your health.
You don’t need to do need to fast, take laxatives or have enemas or colonic irrigations to detox your body. You can detox naturally with healthy foods and lifestyle.
Some of the important points when it comes to healthy living include:
1. Eat clean – choose organic foods as much as possible; choose unprocessed, nutrient dense, whole foods; if you choose processed foods choose ones with a short ingredient list
2. Eat foods that help the liver to detox – these include colourful fruits and vegetables; try to incorporate 8-10 servings every day; choose cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts), and garlic and onions on a daily basis
3. Avoid white processed foods (white flour, sugar etc.)
4. Drink clean, safe water – filtered if possible; herbal teas are a great way to hydrate too
5. Minimize the use of caffeine, nicotine, alcohol and drugs
6. Exercise regularly incorporating cardiovascular, strength and stretch; sweating helps eliminate toxins
7. Relax and sleep at least 8-9 hours every night
In your quest for detoxing yourself from the festivities, the number one attempt is to break free from your unhealthy habits, be that a sugar addiction, overeating, skipping breakfast, snacking just because food is available, eating too much fast food, or drinking too much alcohol.
Start by going back to basics. Choose simple, healthy, whole foods and meals and eat regularly (generally every 3-5hours) in the day to keep your blood sugar levels constant. Drink enough water and find things to do (exercise, hobby) for when you just ‘feel like eating’. And retrain your body and taste buds to enjoy real foods again.
You will love the benefits of your simple detox life…