Our Quick Guide to Detoxing
At this time of year you might be thinking about the possibility of needing to reset once we’ve got through the celebrations and overindulgence of the festive season, but the truth is from time to time we could all do with a good detox just to get ours insides back in tip top working order. So we asked nutritional therapist, Kelly Mulhall, for a quick guide to the whys and wherefores of a great detox.
What is detoxing and why do we need it?
Detoxing is the process of removing toxins and wastes from the body in order for our body to function better. The most common way to detox is with a juice diet. Usually 3-5 days is an ideal amount of time. You should always have an 80% vegetable to fruit ratio in your juices so that you maintain a good blood sugar balance. It’s a great way to help us reset our digestion, boost the immune system, excrete excess hormones and reduce the toxic load we have inside us.
Do our livers need help to get rid of toxins?
Our livers have over 500 functions in the body and removing toxins and waste products is one of them. If we put extra burden on the liver with high levels of alcohol, caffeine, tobacco, sugar, preservatives, pollution and chemicals, we are making our poor liver work even harder!
How do we detox safely? (should we only do it for a certain period of time?)
The best way to detox safely is by choosing a week when you can have time to slow down. The first few days can be tough. Low energy, headaches, hungry and low mood, but after day 3 you should start to feel much better.
If you’ve not detoxed before, don’t be expecting to run around doing your normal job, doing a hiit class, meeting friends for dinner and spending hours at the shops. The first few days will take some getting used to and your blood sugar will drop so you will have less energy than normal.
Use the time to detox your mind as well. Slow down, relax, let the stress hormones in your bloodstream reduce by deep breathing, meditation, gentle walks, long baths, reading and going to bed that little bit earlier.
Aim to have 4-5 juices per day that are 500ml, as well as plenty of water or herbal tea. A detox is all about flushing out the system so you can be expect to be going to the toilet a lot!
Do we need supplements to help us detox or is it more about what we eat? If supplements can help, which are the best ones?
Using natural methods are always best and some of the best liver cleansing foods are…
Supplements can be useful in giving the liver a helping hand but it’s always advisable to seek guidance from a medical professional. Many prescription medications are metabolised in the liver and if you start to increase the liver’s ability to detoxify this can either speed up or slow down the metabolism of the medication which will impact how the medication can work.
Be especially careful if you are on any heart medication, cholesterol or diabetes drugs.
If you’re not on any medication, a great supplement to help with liver detoxification is the herb milk thistle. A tincture form is better than a tablet, but always ask for guidance from the health food store if this is the best option for you.
How do we know if we’ve taken it too far?
You shouldn’t detox for more than 5-7 days without professional guidance as you want to ensure you are getting the right balance of nutrients in the body.
If you feel dizzy, light headed, make sure you drink plenty of fluid and eat something light such as soup to get your energy levels back up.
You may also find that you have little to no bowel movement on a detox. This is because of the lack of fibre in the diet. You should notice things going back to normal when you eat food again
What foods help cleanse our livers?
The best foods for liver clearing are broccoli, cauliflower and sprouts as well as carrots, beetroot, kale, spinach and cucumber. And always add some lemon and ginger for that extra detox boost!
The most important thing to remember for detoxing is staying hydrated. Many people may feel light headed, dizzy, or get headaches when they are detoxing so it’s important to make sure you have enough fluid in you to detox.
It’s absolutely essential that you cut out sugar, caffeine, alcohol, tobacco and any processed food for the detox to work.
All of these substances are essentially toxic to the body and are what we are trying to get rid of.
It may be worth slowing reducing your caffeine intake in the weeks before you detox to avoid getting headaches.
Does fasting help us to detox?
Fasting when eating a regular diet can help give the digestion a rest so the body can focus on all of the other functions but I wouldn’t advise fasting when doing a juice detox as your blood sugar will drop even lower and you may become faint.
Does exercise help us detox too?
Exercise is one of the best ways to help us detox. When we get the heart pumping, it increases the speed at which the blood flows around the body. The faster we pump, the more times it can pass through the liver to detoxify. We also sweat out lots of toxins in our sweat so you get a double whammy of detox!
Kelly Mulhall is a nutritional therapist and Founder of The Natural Balance