Thanks to self-styled, celebrity lifestyle gurus like Gwyneth Paltrow and Blake Lively, detox diets have exploded in popularity. In its strictest form, Gwyneth’s cleanse involves mixing things like alkaline water, pHours salt, aloe vera and young Thai coconut together, meaning you consume mostly liquids for an entire week, with the odd salad thrown in for something to chew.
I’ve tried a home delivered, week-long juice “cleanse” and I can honestly say it was one of the worst dietary experiences of my life. The concoctions were a blend of stale fruit juices (hardly any vegetables were included) that were up to four days old by the time I consumed them. As they had no nutritional value by the time I drank them, they were basically rancid-tasting sugar water. After five days of being permanently hangry (hungry and angry) and suffering hideous, sugar-induced migraines, I actually put on two kilos of pure fat. Not the results I was hoping for, obviously.
As delicious as kale, spinach and broccoli smoothies may be (What’s that? You don’t like liquified vegetables? How strange), your body doesn’t actually need a “detox” in order to rid itself of toxins. Here, expert dietician, Hala Abu Taha explains why you don’t need a week-long liquid diet and shares her tips on how to keep your insides happy and healthy, for a more beautiful you on the outside.
- If you generally don’t have any health issues, you don’t actually need to detox. We have a spleen, a liver and kidneys that all work in harmony to naturally get rid of toxins.
- Why do you want to detox? Do you want to lose weight? Have you been generally over-indulging? You need to define your goals in order to decide on the best course of action.
- Whatever your reasons, your detox should never last longer than two days. Any longer and you’ll trigger your body’s starvation mode as you won’t be consuming enough calories, proteins and essential amino acids for your body to function properly. Your body will start breaking down muscle and eventually, your entire body composition will change for the worse.
- Detoxing for a maximum of two days, once a month at most is enough to regulate the body.
- Avoid faddy juice diets. It’s best to take a balanced approach to detoxing. Always include proteins throughout the day; walnuts and almonds are a great, high protein snack.
- Cut out processed and refined foods like deli meats and white bread, which exhaust the body and have harmful by-products. Increase green, leafy vegetables like spinach which are rich in antioxidants and are natural diuretics, eat no more than three pieces of fruit a day and eat lean proteins for those all important essential amino acids.
- Most importantly, increase your water intake. Drink at least two litres of water per day. As a guide, your urine should be colourless and completely odourless.
- Herbal infusions help to improve our body’s natural detoxification processes; thing like plenty of fresh ginger and mint. Heat the water and allow the herbs to soak- do not boil the herbs themselves as they lose efficacy.
- Consult your doctor or dietician in order to know what to avoid for your specific dietary needs and goals.
- Avoid all types of artificial sugar. They’re pure chemicals. If you must have something sweet, have no more than two teaspoons of raw honey per day. If you use other natural sugar alternatives, be sure that they are FDA approved and that there is sufficient evidence supporting their benefits.
Do you detox? How do you go about it?