Detox is, to put it simply, cleansing your body. But it shouldn’t entail going on fad detox diets to drastically restrict your calorie intake.
If your diet makes you feel cranky and miserable, it will be unsustainable in the long run, which means you will ultimately regain the weight you may have lost while dieting.
“The air we breathe is polluted; the food we eat is processed; our lifestyle is sedentary; our body cells lack oxygen, vitamins, minerals and enzymes; our organs in charge of detoxification and excretion are overwhelmed, and our body is overloaded with waste products and toxic metabolites, which renders it vulnerable to all sorts of bacteria and viruses,” explains Alessia Tan, certified nutritionist at USANA Health Sciences.
“A healthy body can eliminate the toxic substances generated by its normal functioning. However, over the years where our liver is used as dumping ground, it will reach its breaking point.”
Detoxification, according to Alessia, is a decisive step towards restoration of the body’s regulatory mechanisms, and purging out the toxins we put in.
“The short-term effects of detox include the healing reaction when the body is trying to get rid of all the bad bacteria and toxins and waste from the body. Some common symptoms include muscle and bone pain, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, anxiety, eczema, and restlessness. The symptoms may last days, weeks or months depending on your health status. The long-term effects of detox include increased energy, heightened immune system, more self-confidence, overall feeling of well-being, and lowered risk of health issues. When your body is free of the waste, it can finally savour the goodness and nutrients you are feeding it.”
You can either eliminate the excess weight and toxins by going on a juice cleanse or detox diet that will most likely send you back to your old habits once they’re over, or slowly and steadily incorporating simple detox habits into your regular routine.
The latter is, of course, the recommended option. It’s best to steer clear of quick-fixes and focus on a diet that is sustainable in the long term and doesn’t involve laxative teas or starving yourself.
“Do not go full-on and eat like a supermodel when you have been a fast food junkie. One week’s worth of motivation is not going to turn 10 years of bad eating habits around. You will feel more discouraged upon not seeing results from a yo-yo diet,” Alessia cautions. “Change progressively and not drastically. Swap white rice with brown rice, soft drinks with fruit-infused water. A gradual change in diet is the long-term method to maintaining a healthy weight.”
Here are more ways to detox without going on an extreme diet.
1. Reduce your “eating window”
Many of us are guilty of unknowingly overloading our bodies with more glucose than it can process. But nighttime fasting, which reduces our “eating window”, can help to burn off the extra glucose in our system.
Instead of staying up late and snacking throughout the night, allow yourself access to food only after 12 hours so that your body can enter a fasting state. In other words, if you had your last bite of food at 9 pm, have your next meal only at 9 am the next morning.
2. Sip on citrus water
A lot of the weight you feel on you could just be bloating. Many of the foods we eat are loaded with sodium, which causes our body to bloat when it retains fluids.
Paradoxically, drinking lots of fluids helps our body shed the water that it’s holding on it. Adding citrus fruits, which are rich in an antioxidant that stimulates enzymes in the liver to flush out toxins in the body and maintain healthy bowels.
Citrus fruits are also rich in vitamin C, which is a natural detox . So go ahead and throw some sliced lemons, oranges or limes into your drink for a refreshing twist!
3. Wash all your produce
On top of eating a variety of fruits and vegetables, make sure that you wash them thoroughly because most of them contain the very toxins you’re trying to eliminate.
The pesticides used on regular crops have been associated with issues such as diarrhea, nausea and abdominal pain. Plus, consuming pesticides might also lead to weight gain because the toxins that are stored in fat cells after consumption can interfere with our body’s energy-burning process.
Choose organic produce if you can afford it. Lettuce, grapes, apples, pears, peaches, strawberries, cherries and nectarines tend to have the most pesticides on them.
4. Indulge in green tea
Boil yourself a cup of green tea because studies have shown that drinking four to five cups of green tea daily, paired with regular exercise, can help shed belly fat.
Green tea is also rich in catechins, an antioxidant that improves the liver’s capacity to turn fat into energy and increases the body’s production of detoxification enzymes in the body that fight off cancer.
5. Break a sweat
We all know that regular physical activity can help us lose weight, fend off a host of diseases, improve our mood and boost our energy, but it brings more benefits than we may realise.
Exercising – and hydrating amply afterwards – can help to eliminate toxins from our body and get things moving (digestion, blood circulation).
Consuming too much alcohol or salt can make us look bloated, so exercising and hydrating definitely help to reduce the paunch as well.
While experts say there’s no optimal time to work out, exercising in a fasted state (i.e. before your first meal of the day) means that our body draws energy from our fat stores instead of the glucose in our system – which means exercising before breakfast can burn more fat than exercising after.
6. Stock up on healthy snacks
Just because you’re going on a detox, it doesn’t mean you need to toss out everything in your kitchen so you don’t get tempted when you’re feeling peckish. Instead, swap those savoury and sugary treats for fruits and veggies.
Loading up on thoroughly rinsed (i.e. pesticide-free) fruits and vegetables every day is one of the most effective detox methods. In particular, go for avocados, which contain fatty acids that help the liver flush out toxins, and beets, which contain antioxidants that repair and regenerate cells in the liver.
7. Pay attention to gut health
Bloating is a very common problem that can be easily solved by incorporating more gut-friendly foods and probiotics into your diet.
Our gut flora is made up of multiple types of healthy bacteria that maintain our gut health. Probiotics help to boost our immune system by fending off bad bacteria, so add some fermented foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut and yoghurt to your diet to cultivate a healthier gut biome.
This article was first published in Her World Online.