If like many of us you’ve eaten and drunk a little too much over the holidays then now might be a good time to spare a thought for your liver. Many detox programmes boast impressive and somewhat drastic results: “Flush your liver in seven days, drop a dress size in just one week, get clearer skin in 48 hours!” Detoxification is the process of removing toxins from your body, but the more extreme the detox, the more short-lived and less successful it’s likely to be. Gradual changes that you can stick to long-term, will help you get the most from your detox.
Here are our top 5 tips to help you clear out the clutter…
1. H20 to go!
Your body is 70% water. Drink plenty of clean, filtered water every day, aiming for between 1.5 and 2 litres of water daily, to flush toxins through. Add a squeeze of lemon for an extra cleansing boost.
2. Flush through with fibre
You should ideally move your bowels at least once a day. Foods rich in fibre - grains, cereals, wholemeal pasta and fresh fruit and vegetables, will help to move food through the digestive system. Fibre is an essential way of cleansing the body in its most natural form. If you need some help in this area, try two tablespoons of flaxseeds sprinkled over food or direct from the spoon.
3. Cut out the rubbish
Packaged and processed foods are packed with preservatives, artificial colours and sweeteners, not to mention added sugar and salt. Eat fresh food whenever possible; remove white flour and white sugar completely and cut down on stimulants such as caffeine and alcohol. There are plenty of detox teas to choose from, including green tea, which is rich in antioxidants.
4. Eat your greens (yellows and reds)
There are lots of detox veggies too, including celery to help stimulate the digestive system and eliminate excess fluids, artichokes to help cleanse the liver, beetroot to help support the kidneys, and cabbage to help cleanse the intestines.
Apples are also an excellent detox food, rich in fibre, vitamins and minerals. Grapes are good cleansers for the skin, liver, intestines and kidneys, and kiwi, lemon, pears and strawberries are all good sources of vitamin C, a natural detox agent.
If you have trouble eating your 5-a-day of fresh fruit and vegetables, you could always blend yourself a delicious detox juice, using a variety of fruits and leafy greens to ensure you get a good spectrum of nutrients. A superfood supplement can also help.
5. Support your detox with herbs
Once you’ve decreased your exposure to toxins you can begin to support the liver with herbs. 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, our list of detox herbs wouldn’t be complete without a mention of milk thistle. Rich in antioxidants, it’s a firm favourite when it comes to detox programmes. A.Vogel Milk Thistle Complex Drops and Tablets combine all three and can be used as a liver tonic.
If you have liver or kidney complaints, consult your GP before embarking on a detox.