If the indulgences of the festive season have left you feeling tired and sluggish, perhaps its time for a cleanse to get your sparkle back! This article will help you to understand how to do a gentle new year detox.
Types of detoxification:
There are many different types of detoxification, some being more complex than others. For example, we can simply but importantly support the daily job of detoxification in the body or we can undertake a deep detoxification using chelating agents to liberate and excrete toxins that have become embedded in our cells. Ideally the later should be personalised and planned with a professional because it’s a complex process resulting in unpleasant side effects if not done properly.
This article will focus on optimising our sophisticated daily detoxification process. When this system works efficiently toxins can not build up in our system and play havoc with our health. Impaired or imbalanced detoxification has been implicated in a wide range of chronic diseases including fibromyalgia, multiple chemical sensitivities, chronic fatigue syndrome, Parkinson’s and cancer. By optimising detoxification we may improve our energy, concentration, skin and metabolism, minimise symptoms of disease and generally enhance our well being and our zest for life.
Supporting daily detoxification is also a good way of preparing your body for a deeper detoxification should you feel ready to take this path. We need our liver and pathways of elimination (bowels and kidneys) to be in tip top condition for an intense detoxification because toxins that are released from cells with a chelating agent will need to be processed and excreted from the body. If the liver and eliminatory organs are not up to this task the toxins will be free to circulate around the body, causing symptoms before eventually being dumped back in the tissues.
Eat a wide variety of detoxifying organic fruit, vegetables, herbs and spices
Fruit and vegetables are our most powerful allies when its come to health. They endow us with vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, water and fibre which confer powerful antioxidant, anti inflammatory, detoxifying, alkalising, hydrating, bowel regulating, anti ageing and anti cancer effects. The following have all been found to play a role in the body’s sophisticated detoxification process:
Note: some of the studies were in vivo and others were clinical – for more details see the following review: Hodges RE, Minich DM. Modulation of Metabolic Detoxification Pathways Using Foods and Food-Derived Components: A Scientific Review with Clinical Application. J Nutr Metab. 2015.
Cruciferous Vegetables (Brassica Family)
Broccoli, cabbage, kale, Brussel sprouts, daikon radish sprouts, watercress
Note: large quantities of raw cruciferous vegetables may inhibit thyroid function due to the presence of goitrogens. If you have an underactive thyroid it is best to eat mainly cooked broccoli, cabbage and kale.
Citrus fruit, apples, blueberries, black raspberries, apricots, pomegranate, blackcurrants, grapes, grapefruit
Note: grapefruit is contraindicated with certain medications so check with your GP or Pharmacist first
Onions, leeks, garlic, chives
Celery, carrots, parsnips
Black, green, rooibos, dandelion tea, chamomile, peppermint, honeybush
Note: To really obtain the benefit form herbal teas we need to steep them for longer than we might think. In studies, the beneficial effect from rooibos and honeybush tea were obtained from tea leaves steeped for 30 minutes or rooibos simmered for 5 minutes.
Beetroot is a rich source of betaine which helps prevent and protect against the accumulation of fat in the liver. This is beneficial as the liver can not perform properly if it is fatty. Studies in rats also show a protective effect of betaine against certain toxins in the liver including methotrexate.
Purple sweet potato, asparagus, avocado, cucumber, spinach, garden cress, green beans, coffee, chicory root
Rosemary, dandelion, chamomile, dill, parsley, coriander
Turmeric, ginger, chilli
Curcumin from turmeric is one of the most studied medicinal spices and is well established as a natural anti inflammatory. Studies show that its many beneficial effects include stimulating glutathione synthesis and acting as a potent antioxidant. Turmeric absorption is significantly enhanced by black pepper and fat so you can get the most from this valuable spice by taking it with a little black pepper in the presence of a healthy fat such as coconut oil, olive oil or coconut milk.
Golden milk is a popular and delicious way to use turmeric.
There are many great recipes online or you can purchase high qualilty product such as Viridian Organic Curcumin Latte (15% off using code TA015). This exciting blend of turmeric, ginger, cardamon, chilli, vanilla and cinnamon can be stirred into a warm milk of your choice.
Tips for Increasing Fruit and Vegetables
Ideally our meals should be based around fruit and vegetables rather than them being the bit on the side. Soups, juices and smoothies are a great way to increase your vegetable intake and stay hydrated.
When life is busy and you find it a challenge to fit in your daily 8-10 portions of fruit and vegetables, these supplementary superfood powders can be really helpful. I particularly recommend the following products as they are made with organic ingredients and free from sweeteners and preservatives.
Terranova Green Purity Superblend
Terranova Living Wellbeing Superblend
Kiki Health Nature’s Living Organic Blend Superfood
You can take advantage of 15% off from The Natural Dispensary using code TA015 (TA zero one five). I love The Natural Dispensary as they are the one stop shop for so many high quality health products and they deliver to both the UK and Europe.
Note: large quantities of raw cruciferous vegetables may inhibit thyroid function due to the presence of goitrogens. If you have an underactive thyroid supplements containing raw kale, cabbage and broccoli may not be suitable for you in large quantities for prolonged use.
Have a break from alcohol, processed foods and gluten
These place pressure on our liver and digestive system, disrupt blood sugar and energy, imbalance the microbiome, weaken our immune system and deplete crucial nutrients such as magnesium, B vitamins and zinc.
Fast for at least 12 hours overnight
An extended overnight fast is a really easy way to rest your digestive system and enhance detoxification. The digestion of food is an energy demanding process so detoxification is delayed whilst we are eating and digesting food. Detoxification starts about 8 hours after our last meal and takes at least 4 hours to complete so leaving 12-16 hours between your last evening meal/snack and breakfast gives your body a chance to detoxify properly and also rests an overworked digestive system.
Detoxification Supporting Supplements
The liver does an amazing job of processing toxins. However, sometimes the liver itself can become overburdened with toxins making it sluggish, especially if we have overindulged in alcohol, rich and processed foods. Medications, both over the counter and prescription also put extra stress on the liver. We can support this vital organ with herbs and by supplying the raw materials that it relies upon to function well.
Milk thistle is often used in detox supplements and for good reason. It has long been prized for its protective effect on the liver. During the process of phase 1 detoxification free radicals are generated which can damage the liver. This also happens during the metabolism of alcohol. Silymarin from milk thistle has an antioxidant effect that protects the liver from this free radical damage. Studies also show that milk thistle increases glutathione which facilitates the excretion of toxins via phase 2 detoxification. Furthermore, milk thistle has anti inflammatory and pro apoptopic properties which make it a valuable herb for people with chronic liver diseases including fatty liver.
Milk thistle forms part of two of my favourite detox supplements: Biocare Cleanse Powder and New Roots Herbal Liver
Biocare Cleanse Nutripowder
One of the things that makes this supplement so comprehensive is that it supports a wide range of detoxification functions. It is bursting with cleansing fruit, vegetables, spices, herbs and algae which facilitate the mobilisation of toxins, enhance detoxification, promote bowel cleansing and provide support for the kidneys and liver.
The synergistic blend of ingredients include: broccoli, milk thistle, dandelion root, turmeric, alfalfa, artichoke, apple, beetroot, spirulina, coriander, celery and chlorella.
It is a versatile powder which can be mixed with water or added to smoothies.
New Roots Liver
This is a really comprehensive liver support supplement containing high strength milk thistle, beetroot, black radish root, dandelion, alpha lipoic acid, schizandra, turmeric and artichoke.
It suports the liver in multiple ways. For example, in addition to high strength milk thistle, it contains alpha lipoic acid which is involved in regenerating glutatione whilst beetroot, black radish root and artichoke help promote smooth flowing bile to enhance the excretion of toxins.
If you enjoyed this article you might also be interested in other natural health articles on my Blog
Vargas-Mendoza N, Madrigal-Santillán E, Morales-González A, et al. Hepatoprotective effect of silymarin. World J Hepatol. 2014;6(3):144-9.
Saibal K. Biswas, Danny McClure, Luis A. Jimenez, Ian L. Megson, and Irfan Rahman.Antioxidants & Redox Signaling.Jan 2005.ahead of print http://doi.org/10.1089/ars.2005.7.32
Hodges RE, Minich DM. Modulation of Metabolic Detoxification Pathways Using Foods and Food-Derived Components: A Scientific Review with Clinical Application. J Nutr Metab. 2015;2015:760689. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4488002/
Stuart AS Craig; Betaine in human nutrition, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 80, Issue 3, 1 September 2004, Pages 539–549, https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/80.3.539
Textbook of Functional Medicine, The Institute of Functional Medicine, Chapter 22, Detoxification and Biotransformal Imbalances; p. 276-277; AeAnn Liska, PhD, Michael Lyon, MD, David S. Jones, MD
Federico A, Dallio M, Loguercio C. Silymarin/Silybin and Chronic Liver Disease: A Marriage of Many Years. Molecules. 2017;22(2):191. Published 2017 Jan 24. doi:10.3390/molecules22020191 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6155865/