Following the socialising and celebrating of the festive season when we have eaten and drank much much more than usual, we can now expect to be encouraged to detoxify or cleanse every January. It sometimes feels that this is a punishment we must face after enjoying ourselves a bit too much during Christmas and New Year. Yet detoxification plays an important role in supporting a number of health concerns. In supporting our hard working liver we can promote digestive health, female hormone balance, energy levels and skin health, to name just a few. So while cutting back on alcohol, sugar and processed foods will definitely help us feel better if we’re struggling to get our diets back on track come January, supporting our body’s natural detoxification process is something we can do all year round by focusing on these few steps:
Love your liver: Our livers do all the heavy lifting when it comes to detoxifying and process medications, pesticides, environmental pollutants, alcohol, food additives and hormones for removal from our bodies. From time to time it might need a little bit of extra support. A course of the herb milk thistle is one of the best ways to support overall liver function. However a lot of foods support liver health and by simply including these foods in our diets on a daily basis we can promote detoxification every day. These foods include extra virgin olive oil, beetroot, artichokes, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli and cauliflower, kale and Brussel sprouts), sulphur-rich vegetables (onions, leeks and garlic), turmeric and green tea.
Sweat it out: Sweating is another route for the body to eliminate those toxic substances that can contribute to health problems. Relaxing in a sauna after a swim or a gym session is actually a fantastic way to support detoxification, the heat of the sauna, in addition to inducing sweating also stimulates blood flow through the liver and thereby encourages the body to enhance its own detoxification activity. A similar effect can be achieved at home by having a steam bath, and the addition of Epsom Salts to the water will further support liver detoxification due to the sulphur present in the salts.
It takes guts to be healthy: The good bacteria that populate our digestive system are increasingly understood to play an essential role in our digestive health and support immune balance. However, they also promote the detoxification of certain substances from our bodies while also preventing the absorption of harmful substances from the gut into the bloodstream. We can promote a healthy gut flora using probiotic capsules that provide high doses of bacteria directly into our guts and by eating fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kefir, live natural yoghurt, kombucha or miso soup daily.
Fill up on fibre: Any toxins that our body is trying to get rid of will ultimately end up in our guts. Toxins leave our liver in bile, which is then sent to the gut via our gallbladder and a high fibre diet is essential to ensure that these toxins are mopped up and removed from the body instead of reabsorbed. Easy ways to increase fibre intake is to add 2 dessert spoons of milled flaxseeds to your breakfast daily (or blend them into a smoothie). Beans and lentils are another great source of fibre, why not try adding lentils to soups for lunch or snacking on hummus with raw veggies.
Sarah Trimble is a BANT registered Nutritional Therapist at the Framar Health Clinic and is available for consultations on Fridays and Saturdays.