For those tempted by a “detox” after indulging on holiday, making healthier food choices is a more nutritious way to improve wellbeing and nurture the body. (Photo courtesy: AFP Relaxnews/ IGphotography/ Istock.com)
If you have overindulged on your summer vacation you might be feeling a little sluggish and even a little heavier now that it’s back to work time. After all that food and booze a detox can sound like a tempting idea post-vacay — who doesn’t want a quick, cleansing fix to get your body back to what it was, or even better than before?
However, more and more experts are speaking out against detoxes, touting so-called detox products and programs as a clever marketing ploy that at best will waste your money, but at worse can actually damage your health.
So what is the best way to get back into shape as we head towards the end of summer? Here we round up some safe, effective, and not too difficult ways to return to better health now, and keep it all year long.
A 2015 review found that there is no significant evidence to support the use of detox diets for weight management or toxin elimination. “Consumers should also keep in mind that the human body has evolved highly sophisticated mechanisms for eliminating toxins. The liver, kidneys, gastrointestinal system, skin and lungs all play a role in the excretion of unwanted substances, without chemical intervention,” added the researchers.
George Dresser, a professor at Western’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, agrees. “Detox diets are promoted as a healthy thing to do, and that by doing them, they are a root to quick health. There is no evidence for the (diet’s) elimination of toxins, in any fashion, from your system. The ultimate healthy diet is one you can live with day in, day out. I would rather see people make very small changes to what they eat, and do it for five years.”
1. Make some diet changes
Although your liver does a great job of its own of detoxing without the need of fancy powder sachets and herbal supplements you can help ease what it has to deal with by making some adjustments to your daily diet. Dresser recommends cutting down on alcohol to start, and also looking at your diet. Many studies show a Mediterranean diet to be one of the best to follow for good health, and many experts agree that following this style of eating and not a “detox” cleanse is the best way to support and nurture your body. The Mediterranean diet includes a delicious range of fruit, vegetables, “good” fats, nuts, seeds, and wholegrains, and a little meat and dairy, and with so much to choose from you shouldn’t feel deprived.
2. Start exercising
Exercise has many health benefits including helping to lose and maintain a healthy weight, and reducing risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and some cancers. Previous research has also suggested that it has a “detoxing” effect that may help boost mental health and alleviate depression. As we exercise the muscles begin to act like the liver, producing an enzyme which gets rid of chemicals that accumulate during stress and can be harmful to the brain.
3. Look at your beauty products
Many everyday products including makeup, fragrance, hair products, soaps and sunscreens contain ingredients which have been increasingly shown to have a negative effect on health, such as phthalates, parabens, triclosan and oxybenzone. These chemicals can disrupt the hormone system, affecting reproductive health and potentially increasing the risk of disease. Therefore detoxing your products, by throwing some out and replacing with more natural versions, is one way to help improve health.
4. Get some sleep
We hear it more and more often, but sleep really is at the foundation of a healthier lifestyle. Sleep deprivation has also been shown in various studies to have a negative effect on the liver, a vital organ for the body’s daily detoxification, potentially contribution to conditions such as fatty liver disease. While you sleep it is also the body’s time to do a lot of its hard work, regenerating and repairing tissues and cells and boosting the immune system. A type of detoxification also happens while we sleep each night, as the brain clears out “waste” including amyloid and tau proteins, which can build up and increase the risk of dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease.