23rd January 2023
If the rich and indulgent food of Christmas has left its mark and the enthusiasm for New Year’s resolutions has faded, then maybe the answer is to detox. Nutritionist Louise Cunliffe is here to help…
What exactly is meant by a detox and how do I do it?
The purpose of a detox is to cleanse your body of undesirable waste, metabolites and environmental toxins. Your body is naturally detoxing all the time via your gut, skin, breath, kidneys, bowels and, most importantly, your liver. The best way to detox is to help your body do these things more efficiently.
Let’s focus on the liver and the gut. The liver is the resident work horse and your body’s primary filtration system – it converts toxins into waste products, cleanses your blood, metabolises a wide range of compounds (from nutrients and alcohol to medications) and produces proteins and digestive juices. A healthy liver naturally cleanses itself; however, dietary and environmental toxins can get in the way of optimal liver function.
The gut is the liver’s companion and partner in the detoxification of substances that enter the body. It is also home to the trillion bacteria that make up your gut microbiome. These bacteria need looking after in order to achieve gut happiness. You really are what you eat, so choose your food wisely, and it can change you for the better. This is relevant if you are suffering from any of the following: disturbed digestion, foggy thinking, sluggishness, fatigue, hormonal imbalances and skin imperfections.
The following nutritional tips may help you to feel more energised and rejuvenated:
More water and less alcohol: Staying hydrated is essential to maintaining your essential liver and gut functions, such as keeping your water levels topped up throughout the day. Drinking alcohol can add more pressure on the liver. You don’t necessarily need to completely remove alcohol from your diet but reducing the amount will decrease the level of work for your liver. (That said; My best hangover tip is having ginger, turmeric and vitamin C in a smoothie – see recipe, below.)
Drink two cleansing teas per day: Sipping warm cleansing teas containing herbs throughout the day can provide gentle nourishment and support for your detoxing body. Try Pukka Feel New, containing aniseed, turmeric, cardamom and fennel; this promotes liver function and digestive health. Herbs act as a prebiotic, which may beneficially adjust the gut microbiome to influence skin and gut health. Or try Pukka Cleanse, a refreshing blend of organic nettle, fennel, dandelion and peppermint.
Eat two portions of broccoli, kale or cauliflower each day: Give your liver and gut some love by including plenty of protective green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, kale and cauliflower. They are rich in fibre and contain potent liver-supportive plant compounds called glucosinolates. These plants have a characteristically bitter taste, which stimulates the secretion of digestive juices to help your digestion reach optimal levels.
Get a sweat on: Regular, moderate physical activity improves circulation and helps to get rid of unwanted waste through sweating and breathing. Focus on activities that help to raise a sweat, such as jogging, cycling or walking briskly uphill. These types of workouts will stimulate blood flow to the skin, improve mental clarity and help you to sleep better.
Eat a rainbow: A healthy body requires a well-balanced diet that includes a variety of colourful organic fruits, vegetables and proteins. Eating a rainbow of different coloured vegetables will deliver a breadth of beneficial bacteria to the gut. Ideally aim to have half of your plate full of vegetables, a quarter for protein and a quarter for complex carbohydrate.
Variety is the spice of life – the gut benefits greatly from an increase in the variety of plant-based foods and by variety I mean try to shop around; visit farmers’ markets and different supermarkets, as each one has different farms supplying their produce that has been grown on land and soils containing a variety of nutrients and bacteria. This breadth will help you achieve gut diversity and a healthy microbiome.
A word of caution: If you are suffering from digestive symptoms, it is best to have a stool test or microbiome test done before eating products containing friendly bacteria, such as chimchee, sauerkraut and kombucha, as it can exacerbate your symptoms. Louise is very enthusiastic about educating her clients about their gut health. She can order a stool test via a laboratory. After analysing the results, Louise will discuss a dietary and supplemental regime for you to achieve optimal gut health.
RECIPE: ORANGE, GINGER AND MANGO SMOOTHIE
1 cup frozen or fresh mango chunks
1 cup orange slices (peeled)
2.5cm piece of fresh root ginger
10cm piece of cucumber/celery stalk
1 handful curly kale/spinach
1 cup water or coconut water
2 tbsp flax seeds (freshly milled or whole)
1 tbsp ground turmeric
• Wash the cucumber/celery and the kale/spinach, as needed.
• Place all ingredients into high-powered blender. Blend until smooth.
• Add more water to reach preferred consistency.
• Serve with a sprinkling of lemon zest to finish.
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