Healthy living advocate and qualified nutritionist and naturopath Rosemary Ferguson shares with us her secrets to healthy detoxing.
I have a burning desire to explain the difference between the very fashionable craze that is known as “detoxing” and the process of actual detoxification. Knowing a bit about the workings of the body will help you understand the reason for doing a “detox” and choosing a plan that will actually help.
What Is Detoxification?
Detoxification is what our bodies do naturally, without any particular diet or particular plan – all day, every day, your body works and interacts with other organs to neutralise, transform and remove harmful substances (toxins). Harmful substances are not just booze and ciggies, by the way! Cheerfully, they are everywhere, unavoidable and a normal part of life; metabolite end products, pollution, pesticides on and in your food, pollutants found in water, stress, pharmaceutical drugs… the list is endless and the body works away the whole time removing them from our system.
Our livers filter 1.4 litres of blood every minute – that’s every minute! Filtering the blood requires two phases of detoxification. Phase one helps to neutralise baddies – this phase is where you need antioxidants such as glutathione and vitamins E and C. Phase two adds chemicals to make the bad stuff soluble and possible for the body to excrete it. This is where you need things like glutamine, glycine and Sulphur containing foods such as cabbages and broccoli. Garlic is helpful for this stage too.
So does detoxing really work? And why do we all say we are “detoxing” when our bodies are detoxifying all the time anyway?
The Truth About Detoxing
Your liver and your kidneys will take very good care of you come thick or thin, but the toxic load we carry is getting greater all the time. There are many more pollutants these days, self-inflicted and unavoidable, so our organs of detoxification will be working harder than ever. Detox plans usually consist of radically changing the way we normally eat, drink and behave; changing the food you eat to fresh, anti-inflammatory foods, increased plants, hydration and avoiding the toxic vices we may have. Which sounds pretty good to me.
So, when people have a pop at the “detoxing” gang, I think they might be the ones who are missing the trick. By taking in a diet that is vastly superior on the nutrient front than your usual, you are bathing yourself with all sorts of helpful micronutrients that your liver needs for phase one and phase two of the process.
By changing our food, giving the wine and coffee a break, consuming supplements, and drinking drinks that are rich in the vitamins and minerals that our body uses in the liver pathways we SUPPORT our body in its daily battle with the baddies! Giving your body a bit extra to work with, while reducing the stuff that slows our systems down from time to time makes total sense to me. I often use protocols like the one below in my clinic with huge success. Doing a “detox” plan can help your energy levels, your skin glow, your mood, your sleep, your weight, your sugar cravings (well why wouldn’t it? You are taking a little bit of self-care). It is good to try and reset once in a while.
Of course, there are many different ways to do a liver support plan. Protocols I would recommend would be a liquid fast for a maximum of three days, doing a juice, smoothie, soup, juice, soup pattern (and not Heinz tomato soup!). I’m also a fan of vegan and plant-based meals as they offer a nice rest for the body by including nuts and seeds and avocados, for protein and happy fats. This recipe for Super Green Pesto is a brilliant way to start your detox journey.
And if you are so inclined, these are the supplements that have the liver in mind to add to your nutritional arsenal:
Glutathione is the mother of all antioxidants, supplementing with alpha lipoic acid will help you make more of this little wonder! Spirulina and chlorella, a B-complex vitamin, a fibre supplement to help the body excrete toxins, curcumin (aka turmeric pills) and milk thistle to help you protect your liver – it should be taken all the time.
You can find out more about Rosemary and her nutritional background here.
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