Laura Holland, nutritionist, gives advice on detoxing to shed those extra pounds.
As we settle into the New Year, many of us will find we have an extra few pounds to carry around after a little over-indulgence during the Christmas period.
At Christmas time, the house is full of treats and it’s very hard to resist the boxes of chocolates and the seasonal mince pies that are around the home and workplace. Then there’s the Christmas day and New Year’s day dinner. The BBC reported that the average Christmas dinner contains on average a whopping 2500 calories! More important than the calorific value of food however, is the nutritive value (as a nutritionist I look more at how nutrient dense a food is rather than the number of calories it contains). At Christmas we tend to consume more ‘comfort foods’ — processed foods high in sugar/fat that are low in fibre and nutrients, which have a stagnating effect on digestion leading to flatulence, bloating and constipation. We also tend to consume more alcohol, which puts extra pressure on the liver, as well as the waistline!
To detox properly it is important that the organs or ‘waste management systems’ responsible for elimination of toxins are working efficiently. The bowels along with the kidneys are the two main organs of elimination. Eating fibre rich foods such as wholegrain foods, apples, nuts, flaxseed, prunes, rhubarb and so on are good for maintaining a healthy colon by keeping things moving through the intestines. To help improve this process further, I recommend a heaped tablespoon of psyllium husks in a big glass of warm water before your evening meal, taken daily for one month. Personally, I love Pukka’s Fibre Plus, as it contains a little antioxidant rich cocoa giving it a pleasant chocolatey taste, but if this is not available, Psyllium husks available from any health food shop will do the trick just as good.
Also, try some of the following juices / teas: Aloe vera juice — stimulates activity in the colon, useful for constipation; Peppermint tea — helps tone the digestive tract and helps with bloating by eliminating gas; Cinnamon tea — a great digestive aid, also useful for heartburn; Fennel tea — helps with flatulence and acid stomach, also good for liver function.
The liver is the only internal organ that has the ability to regenerate itself after it has been damaged. In fact up to 25 per cent of the liver can actually be removed and will grow back to its original shape and size within a short period. A great supplement to take to help with liver function and regeneration is milk thistle. It’s also a good one to take before you head out for the night, if you plan on having a few drinks. Upon waking, drinking the juice of half a lemon added to some warm water will help cleanse the bloodstream and kickstart the liver, helping it detoxify. Furthermore, the blood and urine have the highest level of toxins in the morning so hydrating yourself early will help dilute and eliminate these toxins.
To flush the kidneys, buy yourself a nice one litre water bottle, fill it with water in the morning and sip at it throughout the day until its empty. If you’re not so keen on drinking water you can let herbal teas count towards your fluid intake. You should be aiming for a fluid intake of 1.5 litres a day. If you have a juicer — get juicing! Two of my favourite juices for detoxing are: 1. Carrot, apple, celery and ginger and 2. Kale and apple.
Once you think your bowel movements are regular (at least once a day) and you are keeping yourself sufficiently hydrated, some important nutrients to help your liver detox include: Glutathione — onions and garlic; Coenzyme Q10 — nuts and seeds, oily fish, spinach; Selenium — nuts and seeds and fish; Vitamin C — citrus fruits and berries, broccoli, parsley; Vitamin E — nuts and seeds, avocado, fish; Beta-carotene — carrots, sweet potato, butternut squash, peaches, watercress, parsley
Other foods that are also important for detox include apples, bean sprouts, berries, eggs, sprouts and cruciferous vegetable (Brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, kale, cabbage, cauliflower). Try to have a serving of cruciferous vegetables every day and include garlic and onions in your diet every day.
Finally, foods to avoid when detoxing…wheat, which causes sugar swings and bloating; dairy, which is mucus forming; caffeine and alcohol, which are dehydrating and put pressure on the liver
Just by gradually, making a few changes to what you put on your plate and to your lifestyle you will be sure to notice an improvement in how feel and your liver will be like new again in no time!
Laura Holland is a fully qualified nutritionist and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.