Detox is such a popular concept - the idea is that you can follow a specific diet or use special products that rid your body of toxins, thus improving health and promoting weight loss - but does it really work - and is it actually necessary?
First, let's clear up some common misunderstandings about detoxing. Commercial detox programs frequently incorporate special diets, shakes, and other supplements thought to have detoxing properties. More worryingly, they may feature laxatives and diuretics.
The problem with these is that the companies promoting them don't ever really come clean about which toxins they are trying to address - or the path of elimination they are aiming to support. We're also told by the natural healthcare sceptics that our bodies don't need any assistance with detoxification as our systems are set up to cleanse themselves quite adequately.
The truth is somewhere between the two. Unless you have a health concern that necessitates particular help from special supplements to support detox, you can really do without expensive programs and adopt lifestyle measures which I describe below.
1. Limit alcohol
Over 90 percent of alcohol is metabolized in your liver. Liver enzymes convert alcohol to acetaldehyde, a known cancer-causing chemical. Recognizing acetaldehyde as a toxin, your liver metabolizes it to a harmless substance called acetate, which is then eliminated from your body.
Excessive drinking severely damages your liver by causing fat build-up, inflammation, and scarring. When this happens, your liver cannot perform its necessary tasks, including filtering waste and other toxins from your body. Limiting or abstaining entirely from alcohol is crucial in keeping all your body's detoxification systems running.
2. Focus on sleep
Ensuring adequate, good quality sleep supports your body's overall health and provides a natural detoxification. Beta-amyloid, which contributes to the development of Alzheimer's disease, is one such toxin. Compromised sleep has been linked to short and long-term health consequences, such as stress, anxiety, high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity.
Aim to sleep seven to nine hours per night on a regular basis to promote good health. If you have difficulty staying or falling asleep, stick to a sleep schedule, eliminate screen use before bed and listen to my Yoga Nidra download for Deep Restorative Sleep - free at jayneygoddard.org
3. Drink more water
Water helps regulate body temperature, aids digestion and nutrient absorption, and detoxifies your body by removing waste products. Water does this through breathing, urination, and sweating. Aim for a daily water intake of circa 3.7 litres for men and 2.7 litres for women.
4. Eliminate sugar
Eating lots of sugary and highly processed foods has been linked to chronic diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. These diseases hamper your body's ability to naturally detoxify itself by harming organs, such as your liver and kidneys. Reach for healthier alternatives like fruit instead.
5. Eat antioxidant-rich rainbow foods
Antioxidants protect your cells against damage caused by molecules called free radicals. Your body naturally produces these molecules as a result of cellular processes, such as digestion. However, a poor diet, alcohol, tobacco smoke and exposure to pollutants can produce excessive free radicals. Eating a diet rich in antioxidantrich colorful fruit and vegetables can help your body fight oxidative stress and reduce your risk of disease.
6. Exercise regularly
While there are several mechanisms behind the health benefits of exercise, reduced inflammation is highly relevant. Acute inflammation is vital for recovering from infection or healing wounds, whereas chronic inflammation compromises your body's systems' ability to detoxify and promotes disease. Exercise for an absolute minimum of 30 minutes a day.
Your final tips
Foods high in sulphur, such as onions, broccoli, and garlic, enhance excretion of heavy metals including cadmium. They also help augment the function of glutathione; an important antioxidant that is crucial to detoxification.
* Chlorella is a type of algae possessing many nutritional benefits - it enhances the elimination of toxins, including heavy metals.
* Coriander leaf supports elimination of heavy metals and chemicals, including phthalates and biocides.
* Choosing natural cleaning products, such as vinegar and baking soda over commercial cleaning agents can reduce your exposure to potentially toxic chemicals.
* Natural deodorants, make-up, moisturisers, shampoos and other personal care products will reduce your exposure to harmful chemicals.
Jayney Goddard is president of the Complementary Medical Association