It’s New Year Again, Should You Do a Detox?
It's the same every year, we've all heard it a million times: New Year New You!! the headlines scream at us. Time to make healthy resolutions, clean up your diet and restart your gym membership.
There's nothing wrong with that, except the obvious question - why aren't you doing yourself a favour and living a healthy lifestyle for the other 11 months in the year?
That aside, there are many out there trying to make a fast buck out of those people desperate to do something healthy after the excess of the Christmas and New Year celebrations. And there is something wrong with that.
Increasingly popular in recent years is the Detox Diet. Celebs everywhere do them, promote them and swear by them for weight loss, improved mental clarity and amazingly clear skin. But do they actually work?
Let's start with a bit of a reality check. Food can't detoxify you. Nor can teas, shakes or "meal replacements". The human body has its own in-built detoxification system – your liver and kidneys. In healthy humans, they both do the job of detoxification very well. Eating certain foods won't "flush toxins out of your system".
Chemicals taken into the body through food (pesticides for example), drinks (alcohol) and even through the skin (from cosmetics, toiletries, cleaning products etc.) will at some point pass through the liver. Here they undergo a biological detoxification process, which, simplified, means they are converted into a form that can be excreted from the body in our waste products. Job done. Thanks liver and kidneys.
Yes, eating certain foods will provide nutrients that are needed for this process, and can help the body manufacture enzymes used by the liver, but you don't need anything out of a box, packet or bottle for this. A diet rich in good quality nutritious foods will do the job nicely.
So here are a few of my top tips for a healthy way to start your new year.
1. Get back into a regular sleep pattern. After many late nights, ensuring you get your 7-8 hours quality sleep a night is a great start. Make sure your room is very dark and quiet, switch off all electricals by 9pm and avoid caffeine from mid-afternoon onwards (for some this might be midday).
2. Don't go crazy in the gym. If you are a regular exerciser who's had a couple of weeks off, get back to your normal routine with a gentle run, or swim, or a shorter session in the weights room. Whatever it is you do for fitness, take it easier for the first couple of sessions, then get back to doing what you love.
If you are new to exercise, or haven't done anything for a long, long time, don't be pressured into joining a gym, a class, or a club until you have tried it out. Make sure you get advice – most people new to the gym just don't have a clue what to do, how to do it, and how many times or how long to do it for. This increases your risk of injury, reduces your likelihood of any results and will probably end with you thinking "this sucks/doesn't work/hurts/I feel stupid..." and you'll just give up.
The best advice I can give about exercise is simple – just move more.
3. If you drink, cut back on the alcohol. Most people do drink a little or a lot more in December, so aim for three or four alcohol-free days per week, and when you do drink, keep it to just a couple. So many people are trying to do the same thing in January, so this might be the easiest time of the year to cut down or stop drinking altogether.
4. When it comes to food, I try to help people look at what they can add into their diet, rather than focusing on what they "can't", "shouldn't" or "mustn't have. This kind of language immediately makes you feel deprived and as if you are being punished, so instead I encourage my nutrition clients to focus on all the lovely delicious healthy foods they can have. Look at ways to increase vegetables – all the colours (not just kale and spinach although green veggies rock!) each day. Start simple and swap your chocolate and biscuits for humus and crudités like pepper strips, carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes and cucumber sticks. Instead of jam or marmalade on your toast, spread half a ripe avocado across your bread instead.
At lunchtime can you go for a salad instead of a sandwich? Salads themselves don't have to be boring old iceberg, cucumber and pale slices of what just about resembles a tomato. Add some fresh herbs to baby spinach or watercress leaves, grate a carrot and chuck into some avocado, cherry toms, olives, pomegranate seeds, nuts and sesame seeds. If you really want that kale, go for it – rub it together with some avocado for a couple of minutes and you can add it raw to your salad. Serve with chicken, fish or even a poached egg.
For your dinner, less pasta/rice/potatoes, instead have two extra portions of veggies. You'll still feel full and your taste buds will love you!
5. Make sure you're having good quality lean protein – fresh chicken, fish, eggs, rather than processed and packaged stuff.
6. Finally don't feel obliged to eat every single box of chocolates or sweets you were given. Maybe gift them on, or just bin them. It's never great to waste food, but then again that stuff isn't really food is it?
Hormone Health Solutions
Phone: 07811 954739
It's the same every year, we've all heard it a million times: New Year New You!!