We’re getting excited as summer makes its way to Melbourne and it’s a great time to focus on health, especially if you need to shed any winter layers. A detox is a popular kick start to a healthier looking you but what exactly does it mean? With promises of weight loss, increased energy and glowing skin it’s easy to understand why they’re a marketeers dream……however juice fasts, lemon detox and over the counter liver cleanse packs are NOT on my list of recommended things to do.
However in general I agree, doing a good detox programme can be an enlightening experience and beneficial to both short term and long term health. As always, there’s never a one size fits all protocol and you should approach anything that seems too extreme with hesitation because there are times when detoxing and using the wrong programme could be detrimental for your health or make you feel terrible.
Do we need to detox?
We live in an increasingly toxic world and health issues are now much more likely to arise because of the additive effect of low level exposure to everyday toxins. Luckily our amazing bodies are well adapted to help us cope with a certain level of toxic exposure but when we are bombarded with toxins from the air, food and drinks, cosmetics and cleaning products or even our work environments, the long term toxic burden can be too much. Health problems can then arise if we don’t take time out to give the body a rest, facilitating rebalance and regeneration.
Most detoxes work on the principle of reducing toxic load and improving the working of those key organs which support toxin metabolism and elimination. The key elimination organs are the skin, kidneys, liver, bowels and lungs. These work together so don’t assume that all you need to do is to support your liver. It’s true this is the main organ which breakdowns toxins into more neutral waste products, but the bowels, kidneys, lungs and skin are also have an essential role in eliminating this waste – if it continues to float around your body it’s not going be beneficial.
Fundamentally I believe to maintain good health we should make the effort EVERYDAY to minimise our toxic load and support organs of elimination but that’s not reality for everyone so I think about doing a twice a year programme, ideally during Spring and Autumn. 2-4 weeks of extra support including simple diet changes and appropriate supplementation can have a significant impact.
Who shouldn’t detox?
You need to have good vitality and energy to cope with the potential side effects of doing a detox, I never suggest a detox programme to anyone who has been suffering from recurrent illness, extremely low energy or high stress. And if you have a diagnosed chronic condition you should always seek professional support.
Be aware that toxins are also stored in fat cells so if you aim to lose weight you may suffer more challenging side effects. For the average person these can include headaches, fatigue, digestive upset and muscle/joint aches. If you experience any severe symptoms you should stop your plan immediately and take a gentler approach to get you started.
Your age, previous health conditions, health goals and current toxic burden will determine the level of detoxing that is required. A detox is never a quick fix to serious health concern and having a consultation with a practitioner before starting a plan will identify and help prioritise the main areas that you need to work on. The aim of any professional programme is to ensure you follow safe and effective guidelines that are the most appropriate for you. And at the end of it you should feel lighter, more energised and glowing.
If you’re not ready to take on something a bit more challenging, my advice for everyday detoxing is simply:
• Drink at least 2 litres of room temperature water per day
• Eat organic whenever possible
• Avoid all processed foods – eat real whole foods that are created in nature not by man
• Avoid or minimise wheat, dairy, alcohol and caffeine consumption
• Keep sugary treats (including those high in natural sugars) for special occasions only
• Eat your greens…. reds, pinks, yellows, oranges and blueberries, a varied colourful plant food diet is optimal
• Eat grass fed and organic meats, and if your digestion finds it hard to digest then focus on eating plant based proteins or fish.
Eat well and live well!
P.S Need some inspiration or interested in how a naturopath and super foodie detoxes? Join me on my detox week by liking my facebook page via my website or on instagram @ sharon_johnston_naturopath