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Spring cleaning the body with a detox

Winter indulgence get the better of you? About to embark on a quick detox moving into Spring? Consider these things first

The body is a natural detox machine

In theory, if you’re a healthy human you shouldn’t need to ‘detox’ because our clever bodies are doing it for us all the time. However, if you’ve not taken care of yourself, a guided cleanse can be an effective way to give more support to the body’s natural detox mechanisms. There are two phases to this which occur in the main organ for detoxification – the liver.

Phase One liver detoxification consists of a series of reactions which effectively converts a toxic chemical to a less harmful one. This process also releases free radicals, which require antioxidants to counter act their damaging effects. If we’re not consuming enough antioxidants in the diet and the liver has been processing highly toxic chemicals, and these chemicals go through Phase Two liver detox, they can become extremely destructive to the DNA and RNA in our cells.

In Phase Two, the liver cells add a secondary substance to the compound it is detoxifying from our system to reduce its harm yet again. Within Phase Two however, the liver converts hormones, drugs and other toxins into water soluble substances so we can eliminate them through our body fluids. So, we are always ‘detox-ing’. That said, if we have certain elements in our diet and lifestyle in excess (caffeine, alcohol, heavily saturated fats, drugs, toxic chemicals), and not enough nutrients to support detox pathways (antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, sulfur just to name a few) our liver is under increasing pressure to work harder and work overtime.

The effect of moving into a specific period to ‘detox’ or cleanse as such is a good time to look at these factors influencing our health, reduce their play and recalibrate, taking the habits learned over the course of a cleanse into our everyday lives moving forward.

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Eating into, and out of, a detox

Planning your way into and out of a specific period of cleansing is vital. The reality is however, that most people think about going on a cleanse only a few days prior with the imminent arrival of spring, and when the guilt of poor food choices, booze and other lifestyle factors have gotten the better of them. Depending on the duration and choice of your cleanse (general lifestyle clean up, juice, soup or fasting cleanse) there’s a few ways to move your way into and out of a dedicated cleanse period.

Let’s take one of the more general cleanse approaches, which may involve eliminating caffeine and other stimulants, alcohol, dairy, sugar, refined and processed foods and potentially red meat and grains. (Exhale now, it’s really not THAT bad). Knowing there would be two-a-week minimum duration for this type of dietary cleanse, the necessary approach in the week leading up would be gently reducing some of those elements in the diet and finding the replacements so that once you embark on week 1 of the cleanse it’s not putting the body into total shock.

On the flip side and what many end up doing is eating/drink all the things they’re not allowed to throughout the cleanse right up until the night before. This action is fear based. Not having those things in the diet for such a short period of time apparently means we should hammer our bodies with as much as them as possible because we’re ‘missing out’.

Consider these swaps in the lead up instead:

  • coffee with sugar swaps to weaker coffee with half a sugar or tea
  • reducing alcohol intake from four nights per week to just one-to-two nights
  • swapping dairy milk for a nut, rice or oat based milk on some of the items you may usually eat e.g. porridge and muesli, and instead reserving dairy milk purely with foods you enjoy them most e.g. tea/weak coffee
  • reducing the snacks on processed foods and instead opting for wholefoods such as fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds

Recalibrate and create new habits

The aim of course once the cleanse is complete is not to re-introduce toxic components immediately after you’ve finished either. Rather, focusing on those things you have learnt during the cleanse and moving them into your life on a more frequent basis is the ultimate goal.

Cleansing can bring up a lot for many individuals, physically, emotionally and mentally too – there’s no denying you have to be dedicated to stick to a full cleanse or detox. Physically, a variety of symptoms will arise for different people – headaches, increasing need to eliminate/evacuate and less energy initially (it improves after a day or two however) are just a few. These are all good signs though, read them as so. It’s our body signalling change that it evidently needed and reading them instead of pushing them aside is all part of the process. That’s the beautiful thing. A detox can and should help us read our body better, tune in, understand what works and what really doesn’t, and with this knowledge helps us to recalibrate and build new habits to take forward in our lives.

Jacqueline Alwill

About the person who wrote this

Jacqueline Alwill

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Jacqueline is a qualified nutritionist, personal trainer, mother and is utterly passionate about everything health, food and life. She is committed to providing nutrition support and education to give your health a makeover, feel radiant and put an energetic bounce into your life. Living optimally is about finding the balance on a physical, emotional, mental and spiritual level, loving your body and feeling well nourished. It’s about understanding and eating fresh delicious whole foods, using your food as your medicine and not feeling intimated by the journey to get there.

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