So, you’ve had a hard weekend of partying, and you want to detox. What’s the best way to go about it?
While there are many products on the market advertising their detoxifying qualities, detox is all about simplification. The easiest way to ruin a detox is to introduce more chemicals into your body. Go back to the basics instead: fresh fruit, lots of vegetables and wholegrains, and water.
There are as many ways to detox as there are nutrition practitioners, and how you detox is really up to you. A detox program can take anything from a few days to the rest of your life.
The best way to detox is to cut out all harsh elements in your usual diet. This means no coffee, no alcohol, no sugar, and no processed food. Cut out saturated fats. You might want to also cut out or cut down meat. Fill your diet with meals prepared from whole foods, fresh fruits and vegetables, and drink lots of water – two litres each day.
It’s easy to say ‘cut this out’ but a lot harder to do in practice. Try cutting it down at first, and don’t be too severe on yourself. Simply foregoing the mayo, sugar or other add-ons can make a big difference. Checking the information on the back of packs and buying the healthier alternative can also make a huge difference.
What benefits do each of these changes have?
Coffee’s major drawback is its caffeine content, but there are other elements to coffee which aren’t entirely beneficial. The caffeine in coffee promotes dehydration and can cause nausea. The milk and extra flavor added to your coffee, not to mention sugar, all add fat and calories to your intake.
Cutting out coffee may be difficult, particularly if you drink several cups a day. To cut down on withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, gradually cut your intake down over a few days – either by cutting the number of cups, or gradually replacing some of your intake with decaf. Cutting off coffee cold turkey has its drawbacks, but its benefits also. If you make it through two days without coffee, you should notice a perceptible difference in your energy levels.
Sugar is in a huge amount of everything we eat these days. A high-sugar diet puts more stress on the body as it tries to cope with fluctuating levels of sugar in the bloodstream. The frequent release of insulin into the blood, to cope with the sugar, suppresses the immune system. Sugar is also swiftly converted into fat, which has obvious detrimental effects when in excess.
Giving up alcohol can have a number of benefits, including potential weight loss and a slight decline in appetite. Although no-one really knows how much effect alcohol has on weight gain, because of the way it is metabolized, it has been shown that alcohol promotes appetite.
There is no scientific evidence to show how a brief detox is helpful, and a brief period of being healthy cannot have the same benefit as a consistently healthy diet. However, a brief detox can make you feel slightly healthier and help to reform your eating habits permanently.
If you want to permanently change your eating habits, the magic number is two weeks: it is generally thought that if you can persist for two weeks, the changed habit will stick.