Detox - what does it really mean?
Guest Article by Sarah Flower
We are inundated by products claiming to detox, but what does it really mean? It used to refer to strict regimes that rid the body of toxins, but now it seems to be the buzz marketing word for just about anything; ranging from patches, tights and bath salts, right through to special water. Can you sip on a detox drink and cleanse your whole system?
There is a growing trend of retreats professing a wide range of detox treatments which can cost anything from £1000 - £10,000. If you are lucky, you will be in the safe hands of experts who can guide you through the physical and emotional hurdles you may face, but for those unlucky ones, you could be left to your own devices and made to feel unworthy if you dare to complain. The upside is you will lose weight - anything up to a stone seems to be the norm. If you are suffering from weight problems, this can seem like the answer to all your prayers, but without guidance and education, this might only be a short-term reprieve.
I am not against detox, I am against the overuse of the word and the idea that we can live a toxic lifestyle and, like magic, the ‘detox’ product or retreat reverses all of the damage we have inflicted upon our bodies. Our bodies are subjected to abuse not just from the food we eat but also from our homes and environment. Pollution, smoke, chemicals and so much more bombard our bodies every day. Add stress, fatigue and emotional health factors and you can see why our bodies are crying out for some care and attention.
There is nothing wrong with doing an intensive cleanse for a few days – but it is not a magic pill, so if you value your health, opt for a cleaner lifestyle generally – not just for the few days of the cleanse.
The word detox can mean many things - fasting, a strict regime including bowel and liver cleansing or simply a break from the everyday toxins and time to spend enhancing your diet and lifestyle to create a better you.
Drinking water can help flush the body of toxins. Many of us confuse thirst signals for hunger pangs. If in doubt, drink some water before you grab the nearest snack. You need to drink at least 6 glasses of water a day to help cleanse the whole system. I would recommend adding a slice or two of lemon, particularly first thing in the morning.
Exercise not only helps keep you fit but it also plays an important role when you are detoxing. Moving helps prevent your lymphatic system from getting sluggish and congested. Exercise also releases feel-good endorphins so you will become happier and brighter.
Skin brushing can help improve your lymphatic drainage. Move the brush in circular motions towards your heart. This improves your circulation and aids the lymphatic system, helping your body to eliminate more waste.
Epsom Salt Baths
These can increase circulation, aid the lymphatic system and help you relax. The high magnesium content helps ease aching muscles. Seek your doctor’s advice if you have any health problems, high or low blood pressure or are pregnant.
Your liver may need a helping hand whilst you are detoxing. This is an excellent herb, otherwise known as Silymarin. You can buy this in liquid or capsule form. Take daily as directed by the manufacturer. I would advise that you continue with this for at least 1 week after you finish your detox.
You can buy these in capsule form. They help cleanse and remove toxins from your bowel. You do need to drink plenty of water when taking these. Spirulina powder works well with Psyllium Husk - aiding the removal of toxins whilst supporting the body nutritionally.
Ways to cut down your exposure to toxins
- Eating an organic diet frees you from agrochemicals.
- Filtering your water (reverse osmosis systems are best for this).
- Quit smoking and avoid smoky environments.
- Look at the chemicals you use in your home. Opt for natural cleaning products - bicarbonate of soda, vinegar and lemon juice are great old-fashioned remedies to a multitude of cleaning problems!
- Cut down or avoid alcohol. Even going for a few weeks without alcohol can really give your liver a well-deserved holiday.
- Avoid caffeine. You may experience withdrawal headaches for a few days. Opt for green tea and plenty of water, and avoid fizzy drinks.
- Avoid processed and junk foods. Instead eat real, homemade food, with plenty of raw foods, especially vegetables.
Headaches and flu type symptoms are pretty normal - as much from the detox as from the ‘cold turkey’ effect when stopping caffeine, refined sugars and other stimulants. Be prepared for this and only venture on a detox when you are ready to commit 100% to the process. Detoxing the body invariably brings emotional issues to the surface, so make sure you are in a safe and trusting place to enable you to push through these hurdles.
Supplements to include on your detox:
- Aloe Vera helps boost your immune system as well as restore your digestive tract and create the right environment in your body for good bacteria.
- No reputable detox package would be complete without providing you with a good quality probiotic. This not only supports the healthy bacteria in our digestive tract but can also boost our immune system.
- A good quality multi-vitamin to ensure you are getting everything you need – especially if you are following a strict dietary regime.
As with most health regimes, never attempt a detox if you have any serious or worrying health conditions, or are pregnant or trying for a baby. If in doubt, always consult your doctor.
Want to strengthen your body's natural detoxing system? Discover the products that can help you by checking out the Detox Shopping List by nutritionist Sarah Flower