New Year’s Detox: Myth & Fact
Welcome to the new year! January has arrived and with it, I suspect for many people, a hangover and a resolution to ‘detox’ and ‘cleanse’ the body for the new year. In this blog, I would like to look at how detox works, and how to detox in a healthy and sensible way – debunking popular detox myths often promoted by magazines at this time of year.
DETOX MYTHS AND FACTS:
MYTH: You need to go on an extreme diet, or live on juices, whilst you are detoxing.
FACT: The detox process is a natural one, carried out daily by the liver and kidneys. These organs need plenty of energy and require a good level of nutrients, in order to function properly . Therefore, severely restricting the diet could impair this natural process.
HOW YOU CAN HELP: To help detox your liver naturally, extra selenium is a particularly good idea. Selenium is an important anti-oxidant mineral which is involved in the production of Glutathione, part of the natural detoxification process. Brazil nuts are rich in selenium, so adding them to your diet could be a good starting point. A selenium supplement may also be worth considering, as many of our foods are low in selenium due to intensive farming practices – which have left the soils depleted.
The kidneys, meanwhile, will appreciate some water. Not excessive amounts, as this can be dangerous. Trying to get just 1.5-2 litres (3-4 pints) of plain water per day will help the kidneys perform their natural functions.
MYTH: When detoxing, we may need to use herbs or supplements to cleanse the bowel.
FACT: Whilst healthy bowel function is important, forcing a ‘bowel cleanse’ can strip important good bacteria out of the bowel – which in turn will negatively impact your health.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP: The bowel needs adequate levels of fibre and water to work properly. As well as drinking enough plain water, try to ensure good levels of foods such as oats, sweet potatoes and flax seeds, as these will provide excellent soluble fibres which will help support a healthy bowel. For those who do struggle with bowel function – don’t use supplements which force the bowel to work, as this is never healthy. Look instead at good bacteria supplements and magnesium.
Good bacteria are vital to the health of our body. They help with digestion and absorption, and have a massive impact on how well the bowel functions. Rather than taking herbs or supplements which will force the bowel to work and clear these beneficial bacteria out of the system, support your detox with some good bacteria. There are 100 trillion bacteria inside every one of us, so to change the balance of these bacteria we need to look for a supplement which provides high levels of good bacteria: You should aim for around 30 billion per day for a few weeks. For those who do struggle with constipation, look out for strains including Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Lactobacillus plantarum, as these good guys have been shown to be particularly important to healthy bowel function.
Magnesium is a mineral which is required for healthy muscle function. The bowel is a long muscular tube, which works by contracting to move the waste along and out. Low levels of magnesium can mean that these contractions do not occur as they should, resulting in a ‘lazy bowel’ and constipation. Supplementing Magnesium Citrate every day will help to ensure that the bowel muscle can work properly to clear our waste out.
MYTH: A detox will make you feel moody, irritable and awful – this is a sign that you are ‘cleansing’.
FACT: If you try and live on lemon water and maple syrup, just juices or other extreme diets, then of course you will feel moody, irritable and awful. This is not a sign of ‘cleansing’ – it is a sign of being hungry and lacking vital nutrition to support your body.
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO: Follow a healthy balanced diet which includes plenty of:
1. Wholegrains – for fibre
2. Protein – for repair
3. Vegetables – for nutrients
This will help to keep your blood sugar levels balanced, which in turn will help to maintain mood and energy levels – as well as ensuring that the liver and kidneys have everything they need to cleanse and detox your system.
THE KEYS TO A SUCCESSFUL NEW YEAR CLEANSE:
– Drink enough plain water – aiming for 1.5-2 litres each day. This will support the kidneys and the bowels.
– Eat! Do not be tempted to starve yourself, this will deprive your body of what it needs. Eat wholegrains, protein and vegetables to provide your liver and kidneys with the energy they need to perform properly. Cut down on alcohol and try to avoid sugars and refined foods, but other than this, simply follow a sensible, healthy eating regime.
– Support your bowel – don’t force it. Yes, it is important for the bowel to work, but this does not mean sitting on the toilet for hours every day. Eat plenty of soluble fibre, and take some good bacteria and magnesium if you need support to move your bowel every day.
– Consider adding some selenium to your supplement regime, to support the liver and as a vital anti-oxidant.
Written By Jenny Logan DNMed. (Jenny is a Nutritional Therapist who has worked with clients in Health Foods Stores and Private Clinics for over 20 years.)