Post-festivities, I find that there is much guilt associated with what has been consumed, and there is a desire to undo the trespasses that have been made.
This explains why the ‘detox diet’ becomes so popular at this time of the year.
Surely you have come across the many variants of the detox diet. Be it the ‘full body detox’ or the ‘3-day detox cleanse’ diet, the common factor is that they make tall claims.
Certain ingredients are popular in the detox formulations although there is no scientific evidence for their efficacy. These are milk thistle, dandelion, selenium, phosphatidylcholine, green tea leaf and turmeric root.
What’s also common is that all these diets are very restrictive. A detox diet could be one that advocates fasting or one that only allows the intake of liquids.
Some of them cut back on all food groups barring fruits and vegetables, and some call for certain foods to be eaten repeatedly.
Evidently, such restrictions in the diet can cause blood sugar to drop and can make you weak and dizzy.
Following such a restrictive diet means that you are likely to miss out on many essential nutrients, which is evidently not a good thing. The risks of following such diets are far too many, and people with medical conditions should definitely steer clear of them.
So do we need a detox diet to cleanse the system?
The liver is the organ that is the ‘detoxifier’, and when in a healthy condition, it needs no aid in getting rid of the day-to-day toxins that we ingest in small quantities.
We are exposed to toxins on a daily basis through the air that we breathe and the food and water that we consume. That being the case, would we not need to forever be on a detox diet plan? Fortunately no.
What should one do to cleanse the body of toxins? First of all, there is no scientific evidence to suggest that pills and portions sold for this purpose are of any value. Therefore, it makes perfect sense not to waste money on such products.
The best way to care for your liver is to restrict alcohol intake or, better still, completely avoid it. Eating a diet that is not high on sugar, salt and processed foods is the simple yet most effective way to cleanse the body of toxins.
Antioxidant-rich plant foods should form a significant portion of the balanced diet. Brightly coloured fresh foods – the purple, blue, red, orange, white and brown fruits and veggies – are natural detoxifiers and should be part of the regular diet. Keep a check on hydration levels by drinking enough water/green tea/coconut water. Infusing drinking water with lemongrass or mint is also a good idea. Another aid to the clean-up act is to resume physical activity and exercise, which may have taken a backseat in the festive season.
Nutrition Therapist & Wellness Consultant