If you had to guess, how many “detox” products do you think you have been targeted by this January?
From “cleansing” supplements, to tea, skin products, extreme diet regimes, beauty tools – the detox industry is booming. We receive these messages in our inbox’s, social media feed’s and our consciousness.
A new year can often mean the search for a clean slate – as we come out of the festive season with our jeans a little tighter, we are susceptible to the promise of a leaner, cleaner body. It all sounds very appealing – clearer skin, better sleep, a healthier gut and a slimmer tummy. A quick fix to undo December indulgences.
What is a ‘detox’?
A “detox” is usually defined by elimination of toxins and harmful substances from our diets. Typically this means caffeine, sugar and alcohol. More recently this has expanded to include dairy, meat and gluten. At the more extreme end of the spectrum we can find liquid-only diets and fasting.
With all of this on offer, it can be hard to know who and what to trust – and whether there are any long term benefits to the short-term deprivation. Is there such thing as a healthy detox or detox yoga?
The practice of cleansing the body is not new. From Cleopatra’s soured goats milk baths (the lactic acid is said to exfoliate the skin), to Turkish hammams, fasting, sweat lodges, saunas and massages. These rituals have been a part of life for centuries. So where do these Ancient rituals fit in amongst the avalanche of pseudo-science and commercialised products on the market in 2022?
Why to detox?
Your body is a highly sophisticated detoxifying machine. You have specialised organs (such as your liver, kidneys, skin, lungs, digestive system and lymphatic system) constantly working to remove harmful toxins and waste. You also have enzymes and bacteria working along intricate pathways in order to keep you healthy.
These pathways need to function optimally in order to effectively absorb nutrients whilst simultaneously eliminating toxins and waste. The detox pathways can be helped or hindered by what you consume. In the environment that we live in however, we are constantly exposed to toxic pollutants, chemicals and substances – so it makes sense to adopt a year-round approach to reduce exposure and assist those pathways.
5 ways that you can support your body’s natural detoxification processes in order to keep them functioning optimally.
1. GET YOUR CIRCULATION GOING
Move your body every day – practice yoga, walk, run, dance, lift weights – any type of movement is a wonderful way to feel better.
The movement and deep breath that is associated with exercise, increases circulation. This assists the lymphatic system to remove waste and transport nutrients around the body. It doesn’t need to be intense and should be something you enjoy doing (so that you hopefully keep doing it!)
TRY: Chair Based Yoga for Lymphatic Flow with Barbara Gallani
ALSO TRY: Yoga Detox and Energise with Lucy McCarthy
Dry body brushing has its roots in Ayurveda and stimulates the lymphatic system. Body brushing aids with cell turnover, increases circulation, softens skin and can even improve the appearance of cellulite. You start at your feet and work up towards the direction of the heart. This also has benefits for those who suffer with cold hands and feet, as it stimulates blood flow and warming your skin.
TRY: To incorporate this practice into your morning routine and brush for 3-7 minutes. Try out a brush like this one from the Organic Pharmacy.
2. GET YOUR GREENS IN
Cruciferous vegetables in particular are a source of glucosinolates, a compound that has been found to be anti-cancer, antioxidant and support liver detoxification. Brussels sprouts, broccoli, kale, cabbage and cauliflower are excellent sources of glucosinolates (broccoli and broccoli sprouts boast the highest amount).
When you cook food it can destroy some of the enzymes needed to produce the glucosinolates. An excellent way to get these powerhouse nutrients into your diet are grating raw sprouts into a salad, or topping dishes with sprouts.
TRY: Sprout your own with a sprouting jar and some organic broccoli seeds.
3. UP YOUR FIBRE
Arguably the most important phase of the detoxification process is Phase II – the excretion or elimination phase. This is the phase that actually removes the toxins from your body (through sweat, breath, urine and of course, bowel movements).
The shape and frequency of your bowel movement tells us a lot about your health – every nutritionist’s favourite topic! Ideally we all pass a stool once or twice a day, in the shape of a smooth sausage. If you find you strain and it’s difficult to pass a stool once a day, then it’s definitely time to increase your fibre intake.
As adults we should be having 30g of fibre a day.
- To incorporate a range of different plant-foods into your diet every day
- Challenge yourself to include 1-2 more portions of fruits and vegetables at each meal
- Always choose wholegrain options
- Sprinkle nuts and seeds on your meals
4. DRINK UP
Water literally helps to flush toxins from your body via the kidneys, sweating and bowel movements. Drinking plenty of water boosts your skin health and your digestive system depends on it.
There is no specific amount you need per day. Try to drink regularly throughout the day and make sure your urine is clear before midday. As a guide, you can aim for between 2-3 litres a day.
- Drink a glass of water as soon as you wake up
- Sip on herbal teas or warm water kept in a thermos on your desk
- Use a large water bottle and finish it all in one day
- Put 6 Post It’s on your desk and every time you drink a glass of water, remove one. Aim for them all to be gone by the end of the day
- Remember that sparkling water, squash, and kombucha all count towards your water intake. Don’t count the black tea or coffees.
5. CHOOSE THE RIGHT SUPPLEMENTS
Vitamins and minerals play a major role in liver detoxification and there are proven benefits of the following ingredients:
- Milk Thistle has been used as a natural remedy for thousands of years. It contains a potent antioxidant called Silymarin, proven to protect the liver, regenerate liver tissue, and prevent inflammation. It is great for taking as a preventive before drinking alcohol or for a month after a big weekend!
TRY: Cytoplan’s Organic Milk Thistle – take two daily with food
- Calcium D-Glucarate is shown to assist in excretion of hormones and toxins by preventing them from becoming reabsorbed in more harmful forms. You can consume this fantastic nutrient by eating grapefruits, apples, oranges and cruciferous vegetables. Calcium D-Glucarate is great if you are experiencing perimenopause symptoms or if you are constipated.
TRY: Nutrilink Calcium D-Glucarate
- Green powders are a great insurance policy that cover a wide range of nutrients, particularly the glucosinolates mentioned above. You can take green powder in capsules, add them to a smoothie, or (if you’re feeling brave) mix them with water!
TRY: Athletic Greens is a superior multivitamin formula that also contains a mix of probiotics, mushrooms and enzymes. Udo’s Choice is a great alternative to this, easier on the wallet and contains greens, enzymes and algae’s, also a source of B12 and iron.
*Don’t take supplements for more than 6 weeks without the guidance of a healthcare professional.
Remember to find balance
Finally, remember that a reset and detox doesn’t need to mean deprivation. Crowd out the bad stuff with the good stuff and you will soon feel the benefits.
The key is a year-round balance of whole, unprocessed foods, along with movement that makes you feel good, and a few treats along the way.
Lindsey Whistler MA, Nut. Dip.
Lindsey is a Registered Nutritional Therapist with ANP and also holds an MA from St Andrews University. Lindsey runs her own practice and consultancy in Bath and online.
Book a free 20-minute call with Lindsey to discuss your health challenges. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or DM @lindsolovesfood
SPECIAL OFFER: 30% off an initial & follow up appointment with Lindsey when you mention MFML when booking
Try more Yoga for detoxification on Movement for Modern Life
Detox, Breathe, and Energise with Lucy McCarthy
Sugar Detox with Lisa Sanfilippo
Love this! So helpful. Thank you.
You’re very welcome! Glad to hear it is helpful for you Liz!
Thank you Lindsey. This article has completely altered my thoughts on Detoxing. The torture I used to put myself when detoxing was just ridiculous. Although, secretly there was quite a bit of martyrdom there when my family sat down to a huge, carbohydrate filled meal and I had a plate of fruit!
The next time I feel the need to detox, I will give the ‘revised’ version a go. My approach will be with excitement rather than dread!
Thank you for sharing that this article was helpful for you Susie.
We love Lindsey’s approach to detoxing, it’s so important to be kind to our body and finding tools that are sustainable. In terms of nutrition, detoxing, and movement and yoga practices too.
Have a lovely day!