Why the majority of us don’t need to detox.
The New Year’s Eve sparklers have barely burned out before the health and wellness world is shouting about the benefits of a “New Years detox/cleanse.”
Now don’t get me wrong, as a Naturopath I’m all for people looking after their health – Yay! Yay! However, I want you to make the kind of commitment that’s going to last the whole year long and give you the best bang for your hard earned buck. Unfortunately, most detoxes and cleanses just don’t.
Detoxes come in a variety of flavours, but some of the most popular involve lemon juice, maple syrup, water with no or minimal food. There are also the pre-packaged juices, or the ones involving high doses of herbal medicines or teas. These often don’t come cheap, and I have seen up to $500 per week being charged for a juice cleanse!! (Like your credit card needs any more pain at this time of the year.)
Why are detoxes so popular?
A big part of the reason the New Year detox is so popular is that it trades on our post-Christmas indulgence guilt. A detox will wash all away all your health sins and make it sparkling and white. Trouble is this sets up a “quick fix” mentality of poor health habits where you do 3-4 strategic detoxes a year, and you’re all sorted with your health. Sorry, that’s not how it works. Good health is a culmination of the small things to you do daily, consistently throughout the year. Yeah – it’s boring, but there you have it. Sure, have a few days of indulgence over Christmas. Enjoy it, embrace it and then get back to your normal routines after – minus the guilt.
Weight loss is one of the most popular New Year’s goals, and many detoxes promise to “kick start the weight loss and boost your metabolism.”
Sure, you’ll lose weight quickly, but this is due to depleted glycogen from the reduced carbohydrate consumption (liquid or juice detoxes). Glycogen is how your liver stores glucose, our primary source of energy. Glucose is slowly released between meals to keep your blood sugar stable between meals. Glycogen is stored with a lot of water, and as you use up your glycogen, you lose water weight NOT fat. As soon as you start eating carbohydrates with fibre (i.e., whole fruits and vegetables), the weight will return. Not to mention your metabolism will start to think famine might be on its way and slow down to reduce energy expenditure. Hmm, not so good for the weight loss.
But hang on you’re a naturopath isn’t detoxing part of your DNA?
Yes – supporting detoxification is part of health but only in those people who have a health condition where their detoxification organs aren’t functioning optimally. Detoxification support requires a careful case history, biochemical testing and tailoring a prescription suited for that individual.
I’ll let you in on a secret. You don’t need to spend a cent on detoxing because your body is already doing it every second of every day. The metabolic processes of digestion, hormone and neurotransmitter production, cellular repair is creating by-products that your body needs to eliminate. Your skin, liver, kidneys, lungs and bowels are doing the heavy lifting when it comes to processing and dumping these toxins already. You just need to stay out of their way.
Here are my top 5 detox strategies:
- Eat at least two serves of fruit and 5 of vegetables. Eat them whole, and you’ll get the fibre as well as the nutrients. Most of us could use more fibre. Fibre helps your bowels work better and feeds the good gut bacteria.
- Stay adequately hydrated but don’t go overboard. Too much water can alter the balance of sodium and potassium in your body, and this can be life-threatening.
- Move your body and break a sweat every day.
- Get plenty of sleep. While you rest your body ramps up its internal cleaning and repairing processes.
- Back off the booze, quit the cigarettes and stop scoffing sugar. These three things get in the way of your body doing its job effectively
Total cost – $0 and you may even save some money!
So this year make a resolution to keep on supporting your body to do exactly what it was designed to do, and you’ll be detoxing all year round!
Norelle Hentschel is a degree-qualified Naturopath and operates a clinic in Crows Nest, North Sydney. She enjoys helping people feel better and can assist with a broad range of health conditions or general health maintenance.
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