Spring is just around the corner and a great way to get ready for this is to clean out your body with a natural detox. It’s a great way to re-energise yourself, feel good, and lose those extra winter kilos. Detoxification is the body’s natural way of eliminating toxins through the kidneys, liver, bowels, lungs, and sweat glands. As your body is placed under constant stress daily, by cutting out those foods and drinks which make your body work overtime and trying to reduce your exposure to harmful environmental toxins (cigarette smoke), you are helping your body to work more efficiently.
A detox diet isn’t necessarily where you should fast or starve yourself to cleanse your body, but where you consume natural, wholesome foods and cut out all the processed foods and drinks which are placing your body under stress. The main health benefits of doing a detox include improved energy levels, clearer skin, improved mental clarity, a boost to your immunity, weight loss, lower blood pressure, improved fertility, and improved intestinal health.
There are many foods and drinks you should avoid when detoxing, like dairy products, all forms of sugar (except those found naturally in fruits), caffeine (coffee, black tea), alcohol, wheat and grain products (bread, pasta, biscuits, breakfast cereals, flour, cakes….), all meats, poultry and fish, chocolate, processed foods, and foods containing preservatives and artificial colourings.
So what’s left that you can eat while on a detox diet? Fruits and vegetables (organic where possible), brown rice, rice noodles, quinoa, beans (butter, cannellini, kidney), eggs, nuts & seeds, tofu, spices, vinegars and oils. Not to forget plenty of water, herbal teas, and rice/soy milk. As well as these foods you may also consider complementing your detox with herbal supplements like probiotics for your intestines, or milk thistle for your liver, to name a few. Remember, however, to check with your doctor or health professional before taking these supplements, if you are on other medication.
Exercising during a detox is not only ok but recommended. It will help your body sweat out those harmful toxins and leave you feeling great. Just remember that you are changing your diet for a short period of time, so initially your energy levels may be low and you may not be able to exercise at a high intensity. Listen to your body and stop if needed, but as your body begins to clean itself out you will feel better, and be able to exercise harder and for longer.
Whether you chose to follow a detox for 3 days, 7 days, 14 days or longer is entirely up to you; everybody is different in terms of how long they will need to cleanse out their body. Each individual will experience some varying adverse effects of a detox, like dehydration, headaches, initial lack of energy, and possible grumpiness. However, the longer you stick to it, the better you’ll feel in the long term. You can slowly re-introduce certain foods like meats, poultry, fish, coffee (if you must), some breads (preferably rye or sourdough) over time; however, it’s also a good idea to keep detoxing once a year or so depending on how you feel.