Feeling sluggish? Lack energy? Can’t shift weight?

Has the wining and dining over the holidays got you feeling a little out of sorts? Are you feeling less than fabulous after all the festive feasting?

The New Year is typically the time when resolutions are made, with promises to refresh and restart the year anew, and on the health front that typically means myriad weird and wonderful detox diets entering the scene. 

Do detox diets actually work? There are as many options as there are opinions on whether they are beneficial or not!

Supposedly a detox is ideal following periods of over-indulgence for rapid weight loss, and is the perfect way to eliminate bloat. Clarity of mind and energy levels are also said to increase dramatically! So fact or fad? 

There are so many versions and variations, that range from simply fasting to liquids only, to vegetable based juices, and just as much confusion out there as to their real benefits. What do they aim to do?

Fad or not?

There is a great deal of misleading information out there about what a detox diet achieves, and what the actual outcomes are from having embarked on one.

I hope to clear up any confusion and set the record straight, explaining what actually occurs in the body during detoxification and when the right kind of ‘detox’ program may actually be of help.

It must first of all be noted that the body is extremely efficient at eliminating waste and removing toxins all on its own, carrying out this vital process every single day of the year. The liver, the gut, the lungs, the kidneys, the lymphatic system and the skin all play a role in the detoxification process. 

The liver however, is the main organ of detoxification, an incredible multi-tasker, able to carry out over 500 different roles, and is the only organ able to regenerate itself. Eliminating toxins such as viruses and bacteria, cholesterol, alcohol, drugs, medications, pesticides, pollutants we encounter through food, personal care products and the environment from the body, occurs through two distinct phases. 

Highly processed foods and alcohol consumed in abundance over the holiday period, or at any other time, can put a strain on the liver and slow down its ability to effectively carry out its functions, leading to changes in bowel habits, feeling bloated, moodiness, lethargy, headaches, puffiness, dark circles round the eyes, dull, devitalised skin and skin conditions such as acne, as well as weight gain, to name a few. 

How Does Detoxification Work Exactly?

Toxins are eliminated from the body via two distinct detoxification pathways that occur in the liver, phase I and phase 2.

Phase I: This phase is the first line of defence against toxins, where the liver converts toxins and fat soluble chemicals that enter the body into reactive ‘intermediates’, preparing them for conjugation, through a series of chemical reactions. These toxins are typically stored in the body in fatty tissue  where they can stay for days, weeks or even years. A group of enzymes called cytochrome P450 protect cells from damage by converting highly toxic compounds into smaller, less harmful substances. Antioxidant protection should be increased during phase 1 and this can be achieved by adding in more fruit and vegetables to increase the uptake of polyphenols and flavonoids, or supplementing with antioxidants such as resveratrol, CoQ10, Vitamins C and E as well as minerals such as zinc, selenium.

Phase II: In this phase, the liver conjugates harmful toxins and fat soluble chemicals into water soluble substances for ease of elimination from the body via bile, urine and faeces. It is heavily dependent on nutrients such as amino acids like taurine, trace minerals like molybdenum found in green leafy vegetables, and sulfur, contained in veggies such as cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts and  onions). All assist with efficient toxin elimination. Diets that are highly processed lack proper nutrients and so can negatively impact this phase.

This is where detox programs can be of assistance…supporting phases I and II liver detoxification pathways. By eliminating highly processed, inflammatory foods, such as sugary treats, cakes and biscuits, fast food, excessive red meat consumption from the diet, even temporarily, and providing the necessary nutrient support, as outlined above, the toxin burden on the liver is dramatically lessened, and those previously experienced symptoms improve very quickly..                                                             

An effective detox plan should address all of these components, not just one or none as is the case with most of the fad diets that abound.

A professionally administered detox program focuses on cleaning up the diet and providing healthier, more nourishing food options, while providing liver support.

Any form of food restriction is bound to cause weight loss and reduce bloating but so called ‘detox’ diets typically do not offer the above mentioned support.

If this speaks to you, please leave a comment below. To book in to see me click here . With a few handy tips and a little guidance, you can start looking and feeling your vibrant best again in no time at all!