The term ‘detox’ is thrown around a lot on the internet, and plenty of people talk about going on a detox diet, but what is this all about and do you really need to?
Detox refers to detoxification and mainly this is all about giving your liver, the body’s main organ of detoxification, some nourishment and a rest from its usual workload. Your liver is a truly amazing organ. It is involved in an enormous number of metabolic processes every day and it’s the only internal organ that can regenerate itself. That’s right! You (well a doctor that is!) can cut out part of your liver and donate it to someone, and your liver will regenerate the part that was lost, and the person you donate to will also regrow the liver from the part you donated – seriously cool stuff!
A detox plan is all about supporting the liver by increasing water intake, eating wholefoods packed with antioxidants and nutrients, and eliminating processed foods, caffeine, artificial sweeteners, alcohol and refined sugar, flour and grains. It’s actually a very simple process and doesn’t require spending money on special detox kits. Everything you need is readily available at your local greengrocer. It helps to decrease your caffeine intake to avoid withdrawal headaches in the week before you plan to start. If you work with a Naturopath then they may give you some liver loving herbal medicines to assist the process.
A typical detox diet consists of loads of leafy green vegetables (kale, silverbeet, spinach, broccoli, etc), vegetable juices, herbal teas, lemon in water and lean proteins at every meal. Vegies to avoid are starchy ones such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, etc. Some people avoid dairy and gluten, which is personal choice. There are other measures to support the dietary improvements such as dry body brushing (to stimulate the lymphatic system), reducing pesticide exposure by using organic food, yoga and meditation to calm your mind.
Many people report feeling pretty ordinary during the first few days of a detox regime, as the body releases toxins and some people even notice that their body smells change (sweat, urine, faeces) as toxins are eliminated through the skin, kidneys and bowel. Once you get through this phase you start feeling more energetic, clearer in the mind and have improved sleep. Usually this plan is followed for about 2 weeks, and then you can decide to add back in some of your favourite vices or to continue for a bit longer. After 2 weeks, you’ll probably notice the whites of your eyes look brighter and your teeth look whiter (depending on how much red wine and coffee/tea you normally drink) and your skin may look clearer and your mood may be lighter. Many people lose a few kilograms as well.
So when should you do a detox? Generally speaking, you can benefit from a detox if you:
- Have recently lost a lot of weight on a planned dietary and exercise program and find that your weight is plateauing
- Have a lifestyle with regular drinking, caffeine, junk food, late nights, smoking and not looking after yourself well (or after the festive season)
- Need a ‘kick start’ to begin a change to a healthy lifestyle
- Have recovered from an illness where you were taking multiple medications
You should NOT do a detox if:
- You are unwell
- You are pregnant
- Your goal is quick weight loss. Healthy weight loss should be approached as a long term plan with permanent lifestyle changes to support this.
Have you had experience with a detox plan? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to comment below or use the Contact form.