The January detox has become somewhat of a post-Christmas institution in its own right. A popular way to repent for festive excess and indulgence, the detox industry is estimated to be worth millions. But can detoxing be bad for you? Here we take a look at the detox dilemma and explore ways to make positive, sustainable change for 2022.
Benefits of detox
From fasting to sacrificing solid food in favour of super-green smoothies, the idea of a detox is very simple – you’re aiming to rid the body of all those nasty toxins and chemicals that have built up over the course of your celebratory drinks and meals in December. If you can get rid of these chemicals, your body is supposed to be cleansed and you’re meant to feel reinvigorated and revitalised with the added bonus of shedding a few pounds along the way.
Sounds great – what’s not to like?
Can detoxing be bad for you?
Spoiler alert… None of the benefits of a detox are actually backed by science, at least when it comes to getting toxins and pollutants out of your system . There are also many aspects of a detox regime that can be problematic for your health.
You could become deficient in certain nutrients – Drinking green smoothies and lemon water every day may sound healthy, but in reality can lead to some significant deficiencies in nutrients such as protein and fibre. This is because juicing vegetables, as opposed to eating them in their solid form, strips away the fibre and increases the content of fructose, the natural sugar found in fruit.
Your blood sugar levels will suffer – A high fructose, low fibre diet can seriously upset blood sugar and energy levels. You may find that one moment you feel fabulous and full of life but an hour later you’re slumped over your desk, exhausted. This is because fructose is raising your blood sugar before it rapidly crashes. This type of oscillation isn’t good for your energy levels and it can wreak havoc with sleep patterns and encourage unhealthy food cravings.
Your stomach might become a bit distressed – Bloating, gas, diarrhoea and constipation are just a few of the symptoms that may crop up during a detox. If your gut is protesting to your new dietary habits, it’s definitely time to ditch the purge.
How should you approach your detox diet in the New Year?
A healthy eating plan should be sustainable and enjoyable. If you’re able to tick these boxes, you’re more likely to stay the distance and see real results.
1 – Eat more fresh foods
What you need are fresh, organic options. Brightly coloured fruit and leafy green vegetables are bursting with antioxidants and fibre and you want to retain these good nutrients as much as possible. Make an effort to prep your own meals and keep your diet varied. Need a nutrient top-up? The Biotta range of fresh fruit and vegetable juices are powerhouses of energy-giving beets, carrots, radishes and pomegranate, and a great way to ensure you get at least five a day.
2 – Support your gut
If you keep this crucial system working efficiently, you shouldn’t need to detox - a happy gut will take care of getting rid of nasty toxins and impurities. A prebiotic and probiotic combination is one of the best ways to support your friendly gut bacteria. Gut friendly prebiotics like Molkosan help to feed your probiotics and create a healthy environment for them to flourish in.
3 – Keep moving!
Moderate, regular exercise is key to a healthy lifestyle; it speeds up the rate at which your body breaks down fat and expels toxins, and is great for your mental health.
Remember to rehydrate. You lose water and electrolytes, such as sodium and potassium, when you work up a sweat. Keep these and other minerals in balance with A.Vogel’s Balance Mineral Drink . A delicious-tasting, strawberry-flavoured post-workout drink, it provides magnesium, zinc, potassium, calcium and vitamin D to help reduce fatigue, improve energy, replace lost electrolytes and support muscle function.
4 – Get a good night’s sleep
Your body relies on you getting a good night’s sleep in order to rest, repair, and yes, detox! Research has found that while you sleep, waste products are removed from your brain, supporting your cognitive functions . It’s also worth noting that sleep deprivation can inspire symptoms such as stress, digestive flare-ups and can even make you more prone to unhealthy food cravings.
Having trouble nodding off? A natural sleep remedy can help. A.Vogel Dormeasan® Sleep with fresh Valerian and Hops can help you get to sleep and also stay in the deeper stages of sleep for longer. Take 30 drops in a little water half an hour before bedtime.
5 - Help yourself to some herbs
Water, cleansing herbs and teas, and spices are of course perfectly healthy in moderation. There are plenty of detox teas to choose from, including Pukka’s Feel New Organic Herbal Tea and Cleanse Organic Tea. Bitter herbs are extremely beneficial for digestion. Try incorporating chicory, endive, rocket and dandelion leaves into your diet. Dandelion leaves act as a gentle diuretic which helps encourage the excretion of toxins from the body, and dandelion root helps with bile secretion, and can therefore be particularly useful for people with gall bladder issues. Globe artichoke is classed as ‘bitter’ too, with research showing it can help the functions of the liver . And of course milk thistle is a firm favourite when it comes to liver support. A.Vogel Milk Thistle Complex Drops and Tablets combine all three and can be used as a liver tonic.
 Bundy R et al. Phytomedicine 15 (2008), 668-675