winter nears the end and the first signs of spring start to pop up all around, it’s
natural that our thoughts start to turn towards warmer days. Only a matter of weeks has passed since the
indulgence of the festive season and for many people fending off the winter
bugs continues to take its toll.
Meanwhile, messages come from all directions that we need to shed weight
for that beach body, drop a dress size or try that detox diet or product. But it’s worth understanding a few things
before you put your body under any regimes designed to lose weight or “detox”
is a natural process that our body goes through every second of our every day. Our liver is the best known detoxification
organ, with our skin, kidneys, lungs and bowels the best known secondary routes
for excretion of waste. But all the
time, removal of waste products is occurring within and from every cell of our
bodies so it is a never ending job! Some
toxins that we either consume, breathe in, or the body creates as breakdown
products are not so easy for our liver and kidneys to make safe to excrete. Our fat cells have an important role in
storing these toxins, sealed away so that they cannot wreak havoc elsewhere.
large quantities of fat are released quickly due to rapid weight loss, so also
can be some of the toxins, now free to cause reactions which can be experienced
as symptoms like flu, headaches, muscle aches, skin breakouts and
diarrhoea. And after all the effort put in
to lose the weight, sustaining this weight loss is much more challenging than
if the weight had been lost at a more gentler rate. It turns out that our
bodies are very clever at restoring the set point of our weight by slowing our
metabolism down. Another factor to
consider is that loss of water makes a significant contribution to the initial
weight loss on the scales.
all this in mind, there are nevertheless products designed to support the liver
and detoxification channels. When our
body has undergone intense stress in the form of inflammatory foods,
environmental toxins or even pathogenic stressors such as viruses, fungal,
bacterial or parasitic infections, our use of vital nutrients and materials for
repair is increased. In these times we
have a higher requirement for the building blocks for repair such as the amino
acids found in proteins, and also essential fats, vitamins, minerals,
antioxidants and other micronutrients.
Products that truly satisfy these needs (with a few exceptions such as milk
thistle) often are not the ones that gain attention as a tool for weight loss
and “detox”. It is recommended to use
these products under supervision of your GP and potentially a nutritional
what can you do instead? Firstly, don’t
panic and think that you need to overhaul your entire diet and your kitchen
overnight. Little gradual changes may
reap big rewards in the longer term and you’re more likely to keep up good
habits as you start to feel better as a result.
Also for those who start now, there are plenty of weeks to go before
that summer holiday! Below are some
ideas to consider:
- Hydrate. With nearly all of
my clients, this tends to be top of my list.
By aiming for at least two litres of water a day including herbal teas,
you are helping support the natural detox process, especially for your kidneys,
skin and bowels. As an additional plus,
your body uses water to metabolise carbohydrates and fats too!
- Nourish. See how many
different colours of fruit and vegetable you can get into your diet. Aim for at least 7 a day and if you can
manage 10 or more, even better! All
fruits and vegetables offer fibre, water, and a whole host of vitamins and
minerals. But each different colour also
contains a range of different characteristic plant chemical compounds which
have different benefits for the body such as antioxidant activity, supporting a
healthy cardiovascular function and you guessed it – detoxification! By including daily some leafy greens and
vegetables from the brassica family too such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale and
Brussels sprouts you are also supplying nutrients which are known to be
protective and support healthy removal of waste.
- Sustain. By providing your body
with a good supply of the macronutrients – carbohydrates, fats and proteins –
you will be giving your body the best chance to run itself efficiently. Favour slow release carbohydrates such as
whole grains (whole grain bread and pasta, oats, spelt, millet etc), brown
rice, sweet potatoes and quinoa. These
will support energy without sudden peaks and dips during the day. For fats, use oily fish, avocados, nuts,
seeds and good quality oils such as flax, olive, coconut and avocado oil. These help you feel full for longer and also
are needed for countless functions in the body including immunity, cognitive
and nerve function and also displace the more harmful trans and refined fats
that make cell membranes rigid and unable to perform their functions so easily. Proteins also help you to feel full, support
blood sugar balance and are needed for repair and immunity. Try good quality unprocessed meats, fish,
eggs, beans, pulses, nuts and seeds.
- Sleep. Who would guess that doing
“nothing” by taking to your bed would do so much for your waist line? Getting 7-9 hours of good quality sleep each
night helps to regulate your appetite, blood sugar control and even contributes
to better food choices as being overtired often makes us reach for the sugary
or caffeinated foods that are likely to give us the quick fix we need in the
moment. Adequate sleep also boosts
immunity, your moods, memory and concentration.
Try keeping caffeine for earlier in the day and adopt a gentle wind down
routine, avoiding screens, alcohol and sugar too close to bed time. You could even treat yourself by adding some
new accessories to make your bedroom a calm and inviting space or perhaps some
comfy pjs, slippers, an eye mask or an evening foot bath or face mask!
- Move. You don’t need to
commit to a punishing routine of high intensity workouts and hours of cardio a
week (unless you want to!). You are most
like to stick to the activities that you enjoy.
Getting out into the fresh air early in the day also helps to regulate your
sleep cycle and so will also improve your sleep. Any activity is a great start, enlist a
friend to join you or seek out local classes where you might meet people. Go for variety and see what works for
you. Even a few minutes of gentle
stretching before bed will make you feel good.
- Experiment. Try mixing up
your routine with some new teas, recipes or trying new types of fruits and
vegetables. Dandelion and nettle teas
are great for cleansing, green tea and chamomile help you stay focussed and
calm while verbena, passionflower, oat flower and lime flower are great for
sleep. There are so many delicious teas
out there to try and if you add two or three in a day, it may help you to lower
your caffeine intake.
- Supplement. But only if you feel the need. You may wish to consider an all round
multivitamin if you know that you have plenty to work on with your diet. If you feel like you need some support for
your liver, skin and digestion, you could try milk thistle in a tincture or
tablet form, or even a tea. Chlorella
and spirulina are also great additions to help support detoxification and can
be added in food form to smoothies and soups or taken in tablet form if you
don’t enjoy the taste.
- Be mindful. Now is a great
time to try new things and if you haven’t tried mindfulness or meditation yet,
it’s never too late to give it a go! And
there are numerous other ways to explore how your mind works and if there are
mental blockages getting in the way of a more balanced lifestyle. As well as yoga, tai chi and qi gong, there
are talking therapies to consider such as counselling, CBT, psychotherapy and
NLP. Any little steps you can take
towards clearer thinking and calmness will do wonders for your health.
are just a few of so many different measures that you could try to look after
yourself. If you were to try one or two of these approaches each week, you will
be well on the way to better habits and a healthier way of life. See what works for you and enjoy the
opportunity to try new things!
To find out more go to http://www.victoriabellnutrition.co.uk/ or contact Victoria Bell at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss personalised nutritional therapy sessions.
Victoria Bell, Nutritional Therapist