2016 is here: does it seem like every person on your Facebook, twitter and Instagram is detoxing? But is it really necessary? Do we need to detoxify our bodies and organs after having a period of overindulging? The reality is that our bodies do a very good job of filtering out harmful substances all on their own – our kidneys and liver are designed to do just that. In a society where extremes seem to be the norm – where we are either at home stuffing our faces in front of the box or constantly in the gym and ‘eating clean’ the concept of extreme detoxing is appealing as people buy into the idea that if you follow a strict detox regime for a finite period of time you will be cleansed of all your health ‘sins’.
Personally, I prefer a more moderate approach. Doing anything to an extreme, whether it be eating, drinking, exercising and even excessive ‘healthy’ eating is not good for you. If though, like me you’re keen to kick-start the New Year and get healthy there are a number of things you can do which can help optimise your liver function and help improve your health without you having to live off green juices and put your body into starvation mode:
- Keep yourself hydrated. Aim to drink 1.5-2 Litres of water a day (a little more if you are doing lots of exercise but no need to go up to 4 litres a day. That is too much). As popular as juicing is, fruit juice is high in fructose which is easily stored as fat in the body and vegetable juices need to be drank with caution as some vegetables should be consumed cooked rather than raw (see below). Stick to water and herbal teas and have a juice as a treat now and again
- Cook with plenty of fresh herbs and spices. They help boost liver enzymes
- Eat plenty of cruciferous vegetables including broccoli, cabbage, kale, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower as they can help stimulate liver enzymes. Make sure you cook these foods though as eaten raw they contain goitrogens that can interfere with thyroid function (hence why it’s not a good idea to drink high quantities of these vegetables juiced)
- Add garlic, lemon and olive oil to your food. These foods are also helpful in boosting liver enzymes
- Eat regular balanced meals and snacks which contain protein, a wholegrain carbohydrate and some fruit / vegetables at each sitting
- Keep an eye on portion size and always fill your plate half full of veggies to ensure you are consuming plenty of nutrients
- Eat the rainbow! Eat lots of brightly coloured fruits (you are far better off eating your fruit rather than juicing it which gets rid of the fibre) and vegetables
- Aim to do minimum 3 x sessions of 30 minutes cardiovascular exercise a week with 2-3 sessions of resistance training per week (you can combine cardio and resistance training in one session). Lifting weights, yoga and Pilates all count as resistance training. Walking in-between exercise sessions is also very helpful but you have to walk quickly so that your heart-rate is raised and you get sweaty!