Is your waistline feeling the strain after the traditional festive blow out? Chances are you’ve muttered the D-word thinking you can rid your body from all dietary sin. But are detox diet plans all they’re cracked up to be? Let’s get to the bottom of this fashionable trend.
WHAT IS A DETOX?
Detox diets are said to remove ‘toxins’ that supposedly result from an imprudent lifestyle and general over indulgence. Such toxins, we’re told, will sap our vitality and threaten our health unless we detox ourselves.
Whatever “flush” method you choose, promises abound range from improved digestion, blemish free skin, banishing cellulite, and above all, rapid weight loss. To do this, you are restricted to either a diet of fruit or vegetables (or both) and lots of water. Some exclude red meat, dairy, grains, caffeine, alcohol and the obvious ‘junk’ food, while others are more extreme, only allowing you to consume lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper (gag!).
HEALTH OR HYPE?
In medical terms, there’s no evidence to suggest that such purges work. In fact, most ingested toxins are naturally removed by the liver and excreted through the kidneys, skin and bowels. After all, that’s what these organs are specifically designed to do.
Secondly, restricting entire food groups robs the body of vital nutrients. Furthermore, the not-so-pleasant side effects that stem from malnourishment can range from headaches, fatigue, irritability, bad breath and dehydration. Sure, weight loss is inevitable, but it is usually a consequence of cutting out many foods (which automatically equals cutting calories) rather than removing toxins that were supposedly making you fat. In addition, most of the weight loss on detox is simply fluid loss, a result of frequent, runny bowel movements thanks to the mild laxatives found in many detox kits. No wonder you feel as light as a feather.
So I guess the million dollar question is: should you detox if your smarty-pants body is doing it all the time anyway?
Well let’s be honest, over the holiday season most of us indulge in a few too many ‘toxic or unhealthy substances’ be it Champagne, too many mince pies, brandy butter and perhaps a lot more lazing about. This places more pressure on your body to detox in order to rid those naughty things quickly and efficiently out of the body. However a ‘detox’ can be as easy as giving up alcohol for a few weeks or focusing on a making mindful eating choices. It doesn’t have to include expensive kits, a 7-day juice cleanse, or ditching entire food groups.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The only way to get healthy (and maintain) is practice (and repeat) sensible eating habits, along with finding opportunities to move more. Make a difference to how you look and feel with these proven ways that work now and in the long-term.
Limit alcohol. Want sparkling eyes, glowing complexion and less bloating? Aim to have 2-3 alcohol free days a week. When you drink stick to 1-2 standard drinks.
Limit caffeine. Can’t function without coffee? No fret. For every caffeinated beverage you have, follow it straight up with a glass of water to re-hydrate. Even better, swap one coffee with a cup of herbal tea especially towards the end of the day to a restful night’s sleep.
Limit refined sugar (except for fruit). To stabilise blood sugar levels and prevent unwanted cravings, watch out for hidden added sugars which are mainly found in processed foods. It’s simple: if the food doesn’t come wrapped in a packet, eat it. If it does, question it!
Eat a rainbow. Load up on plenty of fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables (especially your leafy greens). The naturally occurring phytochemicals (plant compounds) will support optimal body detoxification. No pill required here.
Go H2O. When it comes to quenching your thirst, nothing beats water. Water also helps to speed up the detoxification process and eliminate waste. Whilst everybody is different, 2-3L daily is optimal. To pimp up the tastes – try infusing water with fresh fruit or herbs like lemon and mint.
Move it. If you think exercise is only good to keep us trim, think again! Exercise also improves oxygen intake and speeds up the elimination of toxins by stimulating sweat production and improving lymphatic circulation. The key is to find opportunities to move in as many ways as you can, despite the 30-minutes you do at the gym.
HAVE YOU TRIED A DETOX DIET?