Spring has sprung, which usually means one thing in the health and fitness world: Detox time.
Everyone starts freaking out that summer is just around the corner, madly looking for a quick fix to shed the extra winter weight that may have crept up.
But to be honest, these quick fixes rarely ever work. Mostly, they leave people feeling lethargic and deprived.
In reality, your body actually needs a whole HOST of nutrients to support natural detoxification, which means adding not subtracting to your diet.
Here’s a brief explanation of how detox actually works and ten ways you can do it (without dieting!):
First things first – how does your body detox?
Detoxification is essentially a process where your body removes “toxins” from food, medications, skin care products, hormones and more.
This is an important process because an accumulation of these toxins can lead to hormonal imbalances, skin problems, bloating, nausea, fatigue and even mood disturbances.
The main organs responsible for detoxification are the liver, intestines, lungs, and kidneys. Although it is important to support your whole body’s natural detoxification processes, for the purposes of this article. we will mainly be focusing on the liver.
Detox Pathways Simplified
There are three main phases of detoxification within the liver:
1. Phase I – A group of enzymes called cytochrome P450 help neutralise substances like coffee and alcohol. These substances are now LESS harmful, but if they accumulate can still pose a threat to the body. To prevent this from happening we move to…
2. Phase II – This step helps makes the by-products from Phase I and other toxins water-soluble so they can be excreted from the body. This process is known as conjugation. The key molecules required for this process are glutathione, sulphate, and glycine.
3. Phase III – This is the transport phase, which involves elimination of toxins from Phase I and II to be removed from the body. It’s important for the early phases to be doing their job so toxic substances aren’t being dumped back into the bloodstream, wreaking havoc on our health.
Now that we’ve got that little science lesson out of the way it’s time to delve into the ways you can naturally support your body’s detox pathways; no juice cleanse required…
1. Less coffee
Coffee actually has many protective benefits for the liver (such as protecting against liver cancer and cirrhosis), but it you’re downing 4 or more cups a day it might not be such a good thing.
There is a big difference in the rates at which people breakdown and detoxify caffeine within their body, so if you’re one of the ‘slow metabolisers’ it might pay to take a break for a little while. Swap your morning brew for a cup of dandelion root tea, which is an excellent liver cleanser and has a similar taste to coffee.
2. Less alcohol
Your liver prioritises breaking down and removing alcohol from your system when you drink, which means other functions get put on hold.
Giving your liver a break from the booze means it can work on processing and eliminating other toxins. If you still want to indulge, guilt free, there are some great non-alcoholic drinks on the market now such as Seedlip Drinks.
3. Vitamin C rich foods
Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, cauliflower, red capsicums, and lemons are just a few foods to add into your diet to support the natural detoxification process.
These foods are high in vitamin C, which increases your body’s production of glutathione, an antioxidant that plays an important role in Phase II detoxification.
4. Choose organic
Less toxins in, less work for your liver. While eating 100 percent organic can be expensive, you should at the very least choose organic for the ‘dirty dozen’ that are normally loaded with pesticides including:
Sweet Bell Peppers
5. Swap plastic for glass
Storing food in glass containers/jars and having a BPA free reusable water bottle reduce the chance of plastics creeping into your bloodstream. These endocrine disruptors have the potential to upset your hormonal balance and put extra strain on your liver.
6. Detox your personal care products
This means skincare products, shampoos, conditioners and anything with fragrances!
Your skin is your largest organ and these perpetrators contain endocrine disruptors such as Phthalates. These can increase the production of some hormones while decreasing the presence of others. Unfortunately, they’ve also been linked to an increased risk of some cancers and thyroid issues.
Go for natural products and use things like essential oils to make natural deodorant.
7. Load up on fermented foods
Think sauerkraut, kimchi, pickled vegetables, kombucha, or water kefir. Some studies have shown that fermented cabbage products like kimchi help degrade pesticides and also contain a substance called indole-3-carbinol, which aids in estrogen metabolism (important for keeping our lady hormones in check).
8. Get sweaty
A lot of toxins are stored within fat tissue, so getting your sweat on helps mobilise and eliminate the build-up of those chemicals. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise daily. This can be jogging, boxing, cycling, swimming, bodyweight circuits, weight lifting or whatever other physical activity you enjoy.
9. Fill up on fibre
Bowel movements help eliminate waste. So, if you’re not going to the toilet regularly, those toxins could be accumulating in your body. Aim for at least 25 grams of fibre a day from wholegrains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and legumes. Additionally, be sure to drink plenty of water to keep things moving.
10. Power up with protein
Amino acids are required for a process in Phase II detoxification called conjugation. During this, amino acids bind to the transformed toxins in the liver so they can be safely removed.
Filling up on high quality protein sources like organic grass-fed beef, chicken, and eggs will ensure your body gets all the essential amino acids it needs to support the liver and other bodily processes.
Sarah is an Accredited Exercise Physiologist, Pilates instructor and Personal Trainer specialising in women’s health and hormonal conditions. She offers Personal Training, small group Pilates classes, and Health Coaching focusing on nutrition, exercise, and mindset to help you reach your wellbeing goals. Visit www.skactive.com.au to find out more.